Scavenger Hunts

For camping families, scavenger hunts provide a wealth of opportunities for active fun. Many children, as parents could likely attest to, have a natural urge to explore – which is easily satiated by a good scavenger hunt. Additionally, a well thought out and set up hunt gives parents the opportunity to teach their kids a few things about the outdoors. Coming up with ideas about what exactly to search for in an impromptu scavenger hunt isn’t too difficult; all you really need to do is look around you. Below are a couple of ideas to get a great scavenger hunt started.

Scavenger Hunting 101

When making up a scavenger hunt, keeping the kids’ interest should be high priority. Have them search for common outdoor objects that won’t be difficult or frustrating to find. Of course, safety and supervision are of utmost importance as well. Split up the adults in the party, and assign each one to a small group of kids. Their job will be to provide guidance, give a hint or two, and to keep watch over them.

To make it more interesting for the older kids, a little friendly competition is helpful as well. Incorporate a small prize or treat for the group that can find the most items on your list. Speaking of lists, the best way to come up with one is to explore the environment yourself. Commonly found items like specific types of leaves, flowers, plant products (i.e. fruits, berries, nuts, or seeds), and animal tracks are a great place to start.

With some help from the adults, your little scavenger hunters will be both entertained and engaged until every item gets checked off the list. And though they’re very likely to wear you out on the hunt, you can hit the tent that night with a feeling of accomplishment, knowing that you’ve broadened your children’s horizons.

Scavenger Hunt Ideas

As mentioned above, the specific features of your campsite will help determine what to incorporate in the scavenger hunt. Remember, they don’t necessarily have to be “found” items. Experiential lists can be just as fun. Below are two examples to provide a little inspiration.

Scavenger Hunt 1 (items in a deciduous forest): An oak leaf, an acorn, a dandelion, a pinecone, raccoon tracks, deer tracks, a piece of pine bark, a “helicopter” maple seed, and one human trash item that can be brought back for recycling.

Scavenger Hunt 2 (the “experiential” scavenger hunt): Catch a fish (panfish are typically easiest), skip a rock, hang from a low tree branch (for the younger kids, tippy-toes count), hike to the top of a hill, see a squirrel, hear a birdsong, and cross a creek bed without getting wet feet.

Alphabet Hike

Find various items with names that begin with each letter of the alphabet. Go in order from A to Z.

Scavenger Hunt

Make a list of items that would most likely be found in the area you are camping and/or hiking in. Here are a few suggestions. You’ll need to select items that are age appropriate and also available in your location. Be creative. This activity is a lot of fun for everyone.

__Wild Flowers
__Dead tree
__Pine cone
__Poison ivy
__Stream or creek
__Blade of grass
__Clover leaf
__Pine tree
__Seeds or seed pod
__Eroded soil
__Smooth/shiny rock
__Grain of sand
__Y-shaped twig
__Pine needles
__Acorn or other nuts
__Tree with blossoms
__Hole in a tree
__Ponded area in a creek
__Dark or light green leaf
__Small pebble
__Unusual shaped leaf
__Rocks with many colors
__Different shades of green or brown
__Dew on a flower or leaf
__Fungus on a tree
__Shows next season is coming
__Animal tracks
__Butterfly or moth
__Spider web
__Birds nest
__Insects on a tree
__Deer tracks
__Animal hole in the ground
__Leaf with insect holes
__Evidence of the presence of animals
__Evidence of the presence of people

Listen to:

__Leaves under your feet
__Wind in the trees
__Sound of a bee
__Birds singing
__Water running in a creek
__Noises in the woods


__Tree bark
__Prickly plant
__Wet mud
__Rotten wood
__Wind blowing on face
__Texture of various rocks


__Pine tree
__Green grass
__Fresh air
__Cedar tree


__Animals eating
__Leaf falling to the ground
__Spider web w/insect
__Ant moving something
__Wind blowing the leaves
__Fish jumping
__Clouds going by
__For something funny
__For something unusual
__Sunlight coming through trees
__Sunrise or sunset
__Stars in the sky
__Lightning Bugs
__Reflection in the water
__Trail markers
__Animal homes or shelters

Scavenger Hunt using a Camera

Use a disposal camera. Take pictures of the items on the list. This is a great way for collecting and also for keeping memories in a photo journal.

Other Related Ideas

  • Do a leaf rubbing
  • Identify foods eaten by various animals
  • Play the game – “Twenty Questions” or “What am I?” Make your subjects relevant to what you seen on your hike or about the animals that live in the area
  • Write a story about what you saw on your hike

Draw a picture of a:


Identify different types of:


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