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. There are no rules, justy give the kids a certain amount of time to find as many items as possible on the list, and then call them back, and see who found the most on the list. But, they should bring the itme back with them unless they are doing the pototgraphy scavenger hunt.

  2. I do this every year for our annual Days & Nites of Summer Camping Trip….I generate a list of 10-15 items to capture using a digital camera, camera phone, etc. I form teams in groups of 5 to include 2 small kiddos. Each team is given the same list of items to search but in scrambled order. this avoid everyone running to take the same picture. The team to return with all items on their list IN THE EXACT ORDER wins a personalized trophy which I purchase online for less than $7bucks each from K2awards.com They include free ingraving as well. We have lots of fun. I have a template I use to generate a random list if youre interested let me know and i can email it over to you.

  3. Hi Connie
    This Sounds alot of fun. This is my first year with my grandkids. i hope they will have a good time. They are all ages. We are going in July. Thank you

  4. Another person interested in seeing your list! Please email it to me. Thank you very much.

    Blessings,
    Suzanne

  5. CONNIE-

    WE ARE STAYING IN CABINS IN THE WOODS IN A COUPLE OF DAYS. KIDS AGES 4-16 WOULD LOVE TO DO A SCAVENGER HUNT. CAN YOU PLEASE SEND ME THE TEMPLATE?

    THANKS,
    RENEA

  6. I run a summer day camp with about 170 kids and would love a copy of your template. Seems like a good place to start since we’ve never attempted a scavenger hunt!

  7. Hi Connie, I would also like your template.I am trying to find an activity for all the kids in my neighborhood, and this would be PERFECT.!! I need it by Thursday, June 8th though. I also have a list with about 50 thinghs on it, for an outdoor scavenger hunt. If anyone wants that, Just email me at “Emyhipgrl@aol.com”
    Thanks, Emmie.

  8. I just read your great ideas and if possible could you send me your template as I will be developing a scavenger hunt for Adults, Teenagers and Children for a family reunion within the next week. Many thanks if you can respond to me soon.

    Gary

  9. Hello, we have a 60th birthday tomorrow ad are looking for an activity to get the kids involved. Could u email me your list to me at tstenhouse@live.ca thank you,

    Tara
    Regina, SK Canada

  10. Hi Connie,

    Our family will be going on a camping trip soon and I would love to take a look at your hunt template. Can you please send one to my email address? Caseyrmckee@yahoo.com

    Thanks!!

  11. Hi, I would love your template. Could you please email it to me as well? My email address is included above (I don’t want to publish it)

    Thank you!

  12. Hi Connie!

    I’m taking girls camping for work–13 girls eeks! Could you please send me your template as well? Best wishes!

    Mel

  13. Great suggestions for activities. Kids living in today’s world of constant media bombardment sometimes need to be entertained to keep from getting bored out on the trail – and if you’re going to entertain them, it ought to be with activities that increase their understanding of and appreciation for the outdoors. They’ll soon find it’s just as interesting as – if not more interesting – than the TV shows or video game they think they’re missing.

Leave a Reply