Camp Articles


Five Scavenger Hunt Games

Spice up your scavenger hunt with a treasure map! canstockphoto4855010

When icebreakers are old news and campers need a break from relay games, bring groups together for smaller chunks of fun through scavenger hunts. The beauty of the scavenger hunt is that with a little forethought, it is easily customizable to fit the needs of any camp variable: length of time, distance from the main lodge, specific group configurations or time of day. Use these ready-made scavenger hunt ideas, mix and match them with each other or use the ideas as a springboard to create one of your own for collective group fun.

Back-to-Nature Scavenger Hunt

The quintessential scavenger hunt, Back to Nature uses the power of (what else?) nature to keep a group’s interest from first item to last. The basics of the Back-to-Nature scavenger hunt are a list of nature items to collect as a group (pine cones, oval-shaped rocks, sticks shaped like alphabet letters), a collective vessel (box, bag, cart, tub), a specified area, a length of time and a designated place for groups to return to.

Seek-and-Find Scavenger Hunt

Rather than having campers return with bits and pieces of natural items, the Seek-and-Find scavenger hunt relies on giving campers directions in map, written or riddle form to have them find a specific place on camp grounds where clusters of objects (toys, additional clues, etc.) have been pre-hidden. Complexity for the written clues varies and the number of items varies based on age level and amount of allotted time, but the added challenge of solving the puzzle to get to the locations is excellent in improving intrapersonal communication and social skills.

Clean-Up Scavenger Hunt

An ecologically friendly programming activity, the Clean-Up scavenger hunt forgoes the list of pre-requisite items and instead gives a group the general rule about cleaning up all man-made debris from nature. Give each group an equal number of trash bags, a set period of time and only the requirement of filling their bags with more debris than the other groups, and you have an excellent way of not only getting the grounds tidy, but a competitive way of doing it. If groups expect a reward, it can be for the most bags filled, the most cans or paper collected, the heaviest bags, etc. Points can be deducted for each piece of “nature” (i.e., sticks, leaves, stones) in the bags for good, clean fun.

Alphabet Scavenger Hunt

The Alphabet Scavenger Hunt makes the most of camper observational skills. Each group should have a digital camera with enough room for 26 photos. Instruct each group that they are to find places in nature where each letter of the alphabet exists, then photograph the ‘letter.’ For example, a leaf could be curved in the shape of a ‘C’, or the branches of a tree could be the letter ‘E’. Points can be deducted for unclear letters, and it can be a requirement that the photos illustrate the letters in order of their appearance in the alphabet. Also consider limiting the number of letters that can be spelled out with twigs on the ground.

Picture This! Scavenger Hunt

Another scavenger hunt that uses a digital camera to capture images rather than bringing items back to camp is a Picture This scavenger hunt. Prior to the hunt, a staff member visits various landmarks or areas on camp property known to most campers (if images are too obscure, the game will be too difficult) and takes a photo of that area or item from a unique angle. These pictures are pre-printed so that all groups get a copy of each photo. Groups are then given either a riddle or clue to help them discover the approximate location of each photo. When the specific angle of the photo is discovered, group members stand holding the photo in the matching area while a counselor takes a photo of the group. For example, if the photo is of the leg of a particular picnic table, the group would need to collectively hold the photo against the leg of the table while the counselor takes a photo. When the group has found all of their images, the camera is returned for comparison to make sure they were taken at the correct locations.

With a little pre-planning, scavenger hunts are a fun, interactive, mobile way to get kids to not only connect with each other, but to get involved in nature for a reason. Combine two scavenger hunt ideas and come up with your own unique activity for an afternoon of fun.

Beth Morrow is a freelance blogger, educator and member of the Central Ohio Diabetes Association’s Youth Committee and Camp Leadership Teams. She has served as Senior Week Program Director for Camp Hamwi, a residential, age-based, week-long camp for diabetic youth, for twenty-one years. Reach her on Twitter at @BethFMorrow

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