When you sell custom scavenger hunts for a living, after awhile you get pretty good at coming up with unique challenges. When GR Scavenger Hunt first started in 2015, we mostly used the same challenges, over and over again — and let's face it, most of the challenges we first started with just weren't that much fun.
But then the creative juices started flowing and we started dreaming up new, never-before-seen challenges, based often on what we saw in the world around me. Today, we can almost pull challenges out of thin air without even thinking. The secret? Let one idea inspire you into your next, and don't be afraid to come up with silly or outrageous ideas.
Want to learn more? Here's some of our best tips & tricks for coming up with creative, engaging, even teachable scavenger hunt challenges that have never been seen before.
1. Google Doodle
Go to google.com — you don't even need to type any search terms. Check and see if there's Google Doodle up for that day (there almost always is) and use that for inspiration. Timely, relevant clues are fun clues! Simply use the "I'm feeling Doodley" option to see a random Google doodle. For example, here's what the logo from a few years back:
Turns out that day was Gideon Sundback's — the inventor of the zipper — 132nd birthday. If it were me, I'd start thinking about zippers. What would be a fun photo with a zipper? I might use that prompt to create a challenge like, "Gideon Sundback invented of the zipper! To honor this accomplishment, take a photo of a team member with a coat, jacket, vest, etc. zipped all the way up past their nose, with only their eyes peeking out." That would actually make a pretty fun photo, right? Then head to the next Google Doodle and do the same thing over again.
2. Random image generator
Go to http://photo.net/photodb/random-photo. Here's the first photo that showed up when we did it:
Ok, you might be saying, "That's a pretty boring photo." But hold on — try to think of all the things you associate with that image. Trees — the first thing that comes to my mind is climbing trees, so you could have a team member do that to earn points — but maybe you don't want to hurt any trees (or have your scavenger hunters hurt themselves climbing!). So instead, you could have them find a certain kind of tree — say a maple — to earn points. That's just what I came up for that photo. See how easy this is getting, once you start thinking creatively?
3. Google News
As I mentioned earlier, creating scavenger hunt clues that are relevant and timely can make a huge difference in the "delight" factor of your scavenger hunt. Just for kicks, we picked today's science news to prove you can come up with a scavenger hunt clue from even the most obscure references. Take this screenshot:
Ice! Perfect! Maybe you create a scavenger hunt that requires teams to bring back some ice (an especially difficult task in the dead heat of summer), or create their own ice sculpture.
4. Find something they're passionate about.
Are you celebrating someone's birthday or organizing a bachelorette party? You almost have your clue-writing job cut out for you. You can have teams find items that come in the celebrant's favorite color, find their age listed somewhere in the architecture or a license plate, find a local who's also a fan of the same team. Get creative!
5. What are you passionate about?
One of our founding partners is really into reading and books. So one of her favorite scavenger hunt challenges is to have teams find a specific book at the library (to make it even more difficult, use call numbers), then go to a page to find a certain passage. Or you can make it as simple as "a photo with all your team members reading books." What's your passion — sports? History? Dogs? Again, think about that subject and what would make a great photo. That should get the creative juices flowing.
6. Pick a theme
Just for kicks, let's say you want to throw a pirate party. Why not create challenges around pirates? Have someone "swab the decks" (borrow a mop at a local establishment). Ask teams to make a stranger "walk the plank." Create an eyepatch out of found objects. It takes a little practice (and perhaps the brainstorming potential of a creative friend), but once you start thinking of ideas centered around a theme, everything starts to snowball!
7. Random word generator
Here's a list of words we just pulled from www.textfixer.com/tools/random-words. Starting with "miss," that makes me think of "Swing and a miss!" from baseball, so I might have them recreate a baseball game with found objects. Or "Miss America" and have everyone stand and wave, Miss America-style, on a staircase (a particularly entertaining photo if the team is all guys!).
8. Local News
Back to timeliness. Looks like the Harlem Globetrotters are going to be in my hometown this weekend — so I might create a challenge to take a team photo with someone over 6'5". Perhaps I'd ask the teams to find out who's playing at a local jazz club or recreate a traveling museum exhibit, or find the famous local time capsule. The news is chock full of ideas!
9. Local History
Every city and town and neighborhood has its own local history. Find out famous people who are from the area — for instance, Janet Jackson got married to her first husband in Grand Rapids, so maybe I'd have the teams stand in front of City Hall and recreate a wedding proposal with a stranger. Anthony Kiedis from the Red Hot Chili Peppers grew up near GR — maybe I'd have the teams do their best rock star poses.
This is another good way to diversify your hunt challenges. You can create challenges that require teams to answer a trivia question through a creative act. For example, we once created a scavenger hunt for a woman's 50th birthday party, where we asked teams to recreate the sport she lettered in during high school. A few teams got "cheerleading" right (with some pretty awesome photos to prove they were right), but we also got a basketball submission —which may have been wrong, but it was fun to see the photo regardless.
11. Get artistic
Chance are that are your teams will have an artist or a poet/writer on their team — these types of challenges allow them to shine! We often create challenges that require teams to write a haiku (which not only requires them to write poetry, but also know exactly what a haiku is), or create a work of art using found objects. This is actually one of our favorite challenges, because teams can come up with some pretty creative stuff.
12. Tap into nature
There's always the option to have teams stand barefoot in water (you briefed them about safety, right?) or to find a dandelion or find a build a rock cairn. Scavenger hunts generally tend to work better in urban areas (we find that incorporating total strangers into your game can be the best part of the hunt), but you can still bring in nature to your hunt.
13. Look around you.
Sometimes, inspiration is just as close as what's at your feet. Right now a dog is curled up at the author's feet — so a good challenge might be having the teams find a live animal. Or can you see your kitchen table a few feet away? Maybe it be funny to see a whole team crouching together underneath it! "Fit your whole team into a small space" is always a fun challenge, and to encourage extra creativity, you can add bonus points for the best entry.
14. Take a poll
If you've got a bunch of people on a team, you can ask them to take sides on a certain issue: night owls vs early birds; chunky vs smooth peanut butter; Beatles vs. The Rolling Stones. Have the individuals line up according to their preference and take a creative group photo.
I just got on Instagram, and this post popped up:
Besides the quote being pretty darn relevant to what this post is all about (we believe in the power of play to solve a lot of problems!), we also found a little bit of scavenger hunt clue inspiration: "Photo of your whole team under an umbrella." Depending on the weather that day, this could either be an easy or difficult challenge. Price your points appropriately!
16. Mystery photo
Assuming you want to put a little more work into your hunt, you could take up-close photos of local public art, a street corner or just about any location that would require the teams to guess where the photo was taken. Give them just the image, then tell them to take a team selfie in that exact location.
17. Long-lost twin
This is a pretty straight-forward challenge: have teams find the long-lost twin of one of their team members in a stranger (or possibly the person you're celebrating). It might surprise you how many look-alikes are out there walking around!
18. Physical attributes
Sometimes it's fun just to put the teams on the lookout for someone with a particular look or physical attribute. Bald men, red heads, and tall guys are all physical attributes we have our teams search out.
Search Pinterest boards to find scavenger hunt-related pins. I chose this one randomly:
Now you could just copy these word-for-word. They're not terrible, but they're not all that creative either. (And frankly, I've found you need a nice mix of easy and hard to pull off a great scavenger hunt.) So pick any clue — let's say #30, "Graffiti in a washroom" — then put a twist on it: graffiti that features an animal, graffiti that says something profound, etc.
20. Sing a song
Maybe the person you're celebrating has a favorite band or singer. Maybe you ask teams to come up with an "Ode" to beer (or whatever). Or have a stranger sing happy birthday to the birthday person. If you can have your participants take a video, these are a lot of fun to watch after the hunt!
21. Get physical
Some of our favorite pictures require people to get out of their comfort zones a bit. Have them strike their favorite yoga pose, build a human pyramid or play a "children's game" with strangers. The videos from these kinds of challenges can be some of our favorite!
22. What day is it?
Every day celebrates something. Today happens to be National Sweatpants Day, so we might have the teams celebrate by finding stranger wearing sweatpants and taking a team selfie.
23. Borrow something from a stranger
Another one of our favorite challenges — mostly because it proves how nice and accommodating total strangers can be when it comes to playing games. Our favorite is having a team member borrow a tie, then take a photo of both the borrower and the loaner together (a hat might be another good item to borrow). But this could also apply to having teams pretend to walk somebody's dog or serve a stranger's food.
Still need more help?
Finding fun, custom scavenger isn't as difficult as you might have thought it was, but for some people, creativity just doesn't come naturally. But that's where we come in! We've had years of practice of creating fun, family-friendly, engaging, safe scavenger hunt challenges that get everyone involved. So if creating your own scavenger hunt challenges is too much time or effort — reach out! We're happy to help!