Discovering Our World Through Scavenger Hunts

Zoe Travels the World: Scavenger Hunts
By Tony(a) Lemos, HF Contributing Writer

(c) 2008 Tony(a) Lemos

While putting together a travel journal and activity book for Zoe, I remembered all those years teaching at Summer Camp at the Becket-Chimney Corners YMCA in Becket, MA, and how much fun we had planning scavenger hunts.

What’s a scavenger hunt? A scavenger hunt is a game in which individuals or teams seek to find a number of specific items, or perform tasks, as given in a list. The goal is either to complete the list first, or to achieve the highest score within a given time limit. They can be indoor our outdoor and they can be fun as well as educational. They can also be part of a larger treasure hunt. For example, riddles leading to the location of a custom made puzzle piece and then when all the pieces are found and assembled the puzzle can be a map to the “treasure.” The ideas are endless.


The scavenger hunt that I have the most experience with is the Nature Scavenger Hunt. A sample list might include:

  • Find three different tree leaves, seeds or pods
  • Find an insect
  • Find a feather
  • Find a twig shaped like a letter
  • Find a leaf that a bug has nibbled
  • Find something that has decomposed
  • Find something that is no longer living
  • Find something that was never alive
  • Find two different kinds of tree bark


There are simpler methods for younger children, such as:

  • Color Scavenger Hunt: find something red, blue, brown, etc.
  • Pattern Scavenger Hunt: find something with strips, a spiral, dots, etc.
  • ABC Scavenger Hunt: find something beginning with a letter or shaped like a letter
  • Number Scavenger Hunt: find one of something, two of something else, etc.


Another very popular one at camp was the Recycle Scavenger Hunt. Participants can be given latex surgical gloves first (caution some people are allergic to latex). Items they may be asked to find could include:

  • A paper cup
  • A water bottle
  • An aluminum can
  • A gum wrapper
  • A plastic bag
  • A newspaper page
  • A paper bag
  • A candy wrapper
  • A cash register receipts
  • A glass bottle

Once everything had been gathered we would often make a beautiful trash mandala out of it before deciding what was trash and what was recyclable.


Another approach that seems popular for older children is the About-Town Scavenger Hunt. See if they can find these:

  • A picture of the mayor of your town or city
  • A bus schedule
  • The address of the Chamber of Commerce for your town or city
  • Minutes of a city council meeting
  • A picture of any historical landmark in the city
  • A program or flyer from a local arts event
  • The names of all the city council members
  • A brochure or flyer from the local historical society
  • A change of address card from the post office
  • A schedule of activities or a pamphlet from a local nursing home or senior citizens center
  • For more ideas go to


As many of you know, Zoe and I are planning our trip to Europe (read Zoe’s Big Adventure Across Eastern Europe), and we are planning a European Scanvenger Hunt. It’s still in the early planning stages, but here’s what we’ve come up with thus far:

  • Draw a picture or take a photograph of different flags (Dutch, Greek, Austrian, Czech Republic)
  • Learn how do you say hello in Dutch, Greek, Austrian, Czech Republic
  • Collect a menu in Dutch, Greek, Austrian, Czech Republic
  • Buy a stamp in Dutch, Greek, Austrian, Czech Republic
  • Press a flower/leaf from Dutch, Greek, Austrian, Czech Republic
  • Take a picture of a tulip, wooden shoe, mountain, castle, school bus, train, mail box, statue, etc.
  • Step onto a canal boat
  • Discover Mozart

About the Author: Tony(a) Lemos

Tony(a) Lemos

Tony(a) is the director of Blazing Star Herbal School in Ashfield, MA and maintains an herbal practice in Northampton, MA. She is a graduate of Natural Therapy at Raworth College in England and has apprenticed with many influential herbalist, including Susun Weed. She is the vice president of the North East Herbal Association, and has taught at conferences and festivals all over New England, including Green Nations Gathering and the Women’s Herbal Conference.

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