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
__Berries
__Vine
__Poison ivy
__Stream or creek
__Blade of grass
__Clover leaf
__Moss
__Pine tree
__Seeds or seed pod
__Eroded soil
__Smooth/shiny rock
__Mud
__Grain of sand
__Fern
__Y-shaped twig
__Trash
__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
__Worm
__Caterpillar
__Squirrel
__Bird
__Ant
__Butterfly or moth
__Snail
__Beetle
__Feather
__Lizard
__Ladybug
__Spider web
__Birds nest
__Insects on a tree
__Deer tracks
__Animal hole in the ground
__Deer
__Frog
__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
__Cricket
__Water running in a creek
__Noises in the woods

Feel:

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

Smell:

__Pine tree
__Flower
__Mud
__Green grass
__Fresh air
__Cedar tree

Watch:

__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:

__Tree
__Flower
__Butterfly
__Bird
__Animal

Identify different types of:

__Birds
__Leaves
__Trees
__Flowers
__Plants

Check out more tips on hiking with kids or visit our Camp Store

100 Replies to “Scavenger Hunts”

  1. Our local Girl Scout area is having a camp out this coming weekend, and I was looking for ideas for nature scavenger hunts for girls ages 5-10, so this was very helpful!
    I also do Outdoor Training for new Girl Scout leaders, so this will be a good program idea for them also.

  2. I have created a Scavenger Hunt using rhymes that provide clues to locations and item names that I have put around the campground. I turn it into team competition. Children and adults seem to love it. I offer a 1st, 2nd and 3rd prize for the teams.

  3. Would love to get a template of your scavenger hunt … I’m planning one for next weekend … you have some great ideas! Thank you for sharing your info!
    Thanks,
    Cheri

  4. Was looking for something that my son could do while we were at an off-road charity event. I had to modify this list a little, but I think he will have a LOT of fun doing this!!!!

  5. Thanks for this great information. I used it to create a scavenger hunt for our 3rd, 4th, 5th, and 6th graders in the Redwoods.

  6. Would love to get a template of your scavenger hunt … I’m planning one for next weekend … you have some great ideas! Thank you for sharing your info!

    Pam

  7. You really make it appear really easy along with your presentation but I to
    find this topic to be really one thing which I think I’d never understand. It kind of feels too complex and very huge for me. I’m
    having a look ahead for your subsequent put up, I will try to get the dangle of it!

  8. Connie, I’m planning a scavenger hunt this fall with our National Wild Turkey Federation “Jakes” group. They love to be outside and they are very eager!! Could you please send me the list/template. Thanks very much!! Barry

  9. Would love to get a template as well for my girl scouts love your ideas… Thanks in advance, Desiree

  10. Hi Connie,

    Trying to get together idea’s for my two little ones to do during the summer holidays, I would love a copy of your list as well.

    Please email me at puddo_duk@hotmail.com

    Thank you in advance!!

  11. Would love a list thanks! It’s our first itme , and I’m hoping to keep them entertained!

  12. I love your ideas – my kids are 4 and I think they’d have a blast with this. If you’re sending out the template for the Scavenger Hunt, I’d love a copy.

    Julie

  13. I am a GS leader for first year Brownies, and we are planning our first community encampment next month. I love your scavenger list of items to collect, thank you for your suggestions.

  14. Connie-

    Sorry to bug you but I would also love a copy of your template 🙂 We are going camping and hiking next weekend and I am loading up on ways to make this trip fun and educational 🙂

    Thanks!
    Aimee
    thehazelfam@yahoo.com

  15. I am planning the neighborhood Easter Egg Hunt and I would like to have something more challenging for the older kids. I would love to see your template.

    Thanks,
    Sarah

  16. I have an outdoor scavenger hunt that I’m hoping to set up for a bunch of 14 to 16 yr olds..
    Would really like to have a look at that list of yours.. please mail me on MARKRUSSELBACHILLER@YAHOO.

    Thanks for such a great idea.
    Michele

  17. Connie,
    Making my indoor kids, put down the game remotes and explore the great outdoors. Going to a nearby state park next month and would love to see your template. Can you email me your list at christmascookiesrock@gmail.com?
    Thanks much.
    Karen

  18. I am also interested in seeing the template. Please email! I think this would be a really fun idea. We tried doing something similar but we had everyone going to the same areas and it just wasn’t well organized. Thanks for sharing your ideas!

  19. Scavenger hunt for my daughters 11 bday would be great to get an already put together template if you wouldn’t mind sharing. Thanks, Monica

  20. Hi can you send me a copy of your template ? it would be really helpful for me to prepare for my 6 year daughter’s birthday party.
    thanks ..

  21. Hi, Could you also please email me a copy of your template. My six year old is having his first sleepover and I just thought that this would be awesome for them.

    Thanks,
    Alicia

  22. Hi Connie,

    I have an outdoor scavenger hunt that I’m hoping to set up for a bunch of 14 to 16 yr olds..
    Would really like to have a look at that list of yours.. please mail me on chrisdmen@gmail.com

  23. These are some great suggestions for hiking activities. All too often we think kids will just be enraptured by nature and so never be bored on the trail. If done right, hiking activities can help introduce kids to nature and keep them engaged in the hike – all while helping parent and child bond.

  24. It would be great if you could email the template. We are having a family camp and it sounds like it is just what I was looking for.

    Thanks
    Ken

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