TREASURE AND SCAVENGER HUNTS:
How to Plan, Create, and Give Them
Now its FOURTH edition!
How to plan, create, and give the party of the year for your family, friends, group, or even your city! Step-by-step advice, hundreds of ideas, a ready-made scavenger list, all the details that will make you look like a genius!
Bring back the old-fashioned treasure hunts and scavenger hunts! Better yet, combine them into a super party! Be the host the party of the year! Memories of the crisp fall season bring to mind treasure and scavenger hunts, often a Halloween party theme. Gordon Burgett gives you hundreds of clever ideas for planning parties that will be talked about for years. Includes innovative themes and clues, checklists, safety and timing guides, everything for memorable events for kids, teens and adults.
At last, a how-to book that share the details of planning, creating, and giving the party of the year! Learn
* How to write fun, challenging clues
* How to avoid problems with safety
* Where to safely hide the items sought
* How to create a beguiling scavenger hunt list
* How to plan a super party around the hunts
* How to add more enjoyment with brainstormers
* What you do with: a "magic checklist"!
than a step-by-step guide, this book also includes, 23
model Treasure Hunt clues, 125 suggestions for a Scavenger Hunt list, 15 Brainstormers and a 70-item "Magic Checklist" for
the Super Party!
Table of Contents
What are they?
Who are Treasure Hunts for?
Treasure Hunts for Kids
Treasure Hunts for Early Teens
Treasure Hunts for Adults
Problems with Time and Space
Problems with Clues
Problems with Matching
An Ideal Treasure Hunt
What are Scavenger Hunts?
Who are they for?
Hunts for Kids and Early Teens
Scavenger Hunts for Adults
Scavenger Hunt Problems
The Super Party
Designing a Framework for a Super Party
Schedule and Scope
Time to Invite Guests and Organize the Party
Composing and Sending Invitations
Buying (and Wrapping) Prizes
Planning and Fixing Food
Time to Plan the Hunt!
Combining the Hunts
Creating and Composing Treasure Hunt Clues
More Poetry, by Format
A Mixed Message
The Collective Fool Clue
In a Foreign Language
As a Drawing
Twenty-first Century Tools
Developing a Scavenger Hunt List
From People or Places
Adding in Some Bonus Brainstormers
A "Magic Checklist"
Finally, a Super Party!
Temporary Coat Holder
Explaining How the Hunt Works
Picking the Teams
Preliminary Team Totals
Voting on the "Performances"
Awarding the Prizes
A Dynamite Party!
Illustrations by Anthony Avila and Brandon Carr
Trade paperback / $15
Digital version / $10
(slightly modified and designed for optimal computer reading/printing)
Want to read some short chapter samples?
Treasure and scavenger hunts aren't nuclear physics nor do they lead to the salvation of peoplekind, but done right they can be plenty of fun and create a joyous core of an unforgettable gathering that can lighten, for a few hours, the otherwise more ponderous problems facing us and our kin.
Cavefolk didn't have treasure hunts for fun. They ate whatever treasure they could catch, and scavenged for the rest. No treasure, end of the game!
The Dark Agers didn't have it much better. Even when the sun shone—yes, there was sun in the Dark Ages―they spent far too much time not being somebody else's treasure.
But we've got it easier: pizza, VCR's, penicillin, cars, even the wherewithal and place to have parties. Good thing I waited until now to write this book!
So, even though we're only going to live once (at least where I live), why not have some fun along the way? Better yet, some challenging fun, the kind that calls into play your feet, mind, memory, wit, and guile? A good treasure/scavenger hunt does all that.
Treasure Hunts: What are they?
In the simplest terms, treasure hunts are a search for something of value. The search can be done individually: children scouring the yard for Easter eggs. Or collectively: four knee-knocking adults creeping through the woods or cemetery for a clue that will lead them to their next destination.
The treasure can be the direct reward of the search, like candy hidden in the den or a $5 bill under a rock in a cave. Or it can be tantalizingly wrapped and displayed on the sponsor's parlor table, to be awarded to the team with the highest point total.
It can be truly valuable, booty gathered during the hunt, or something more symbolic, like certificates of first place.
In other words, if treasure of any kind is involved and you have organized people to get it, you have a treasure hunt! You can title it, dress it however you wish, and direct it your way.
part is planning and executing it so the players have fun, are challenged, and
enjoy the search. The ideal is a treasure hunt that leaves them begging to take
part again next year. The worst scenario has the participants in jail, hurt, or
yawning in boredom.
What follows seeks the ideal and steers clear of the worst .
Treasure Hunts for Adults
At last, the heart of this book. Treasure hunts for kids are fun, and for early teens, as fun as anything can be. But for adults (which, with a huge, tongue-in-cheek wink, includes later teens), they can be great, great fun!
To show you how is the task of the remaining pages.
By extension, they can be just as much fun for the planner(s). Well done, they can make your party the party to attend, and eagerly anticipated year after year. They can brand you as some sort of genius―"who would have guessed?" And they can be one grande pain in the rump until they actually get together, "work," and the guinea pigs get back laughing, safe, and hungry.
The biggest drawback: you never get to take part. Worst yet, while teams are tromping through the woods or begging widows for a potato or shoehook, you are left at camp zero to answer emergency phone calls, imagining cars full of friends flying off the bridge or your entire list of invitees in the holding tank unable―or too angry―to call!
Your only hope is that, inspired by your super party, a friend will try to do you one better, invite you to solve their clues, and they will be stuck alone with even greater misgivings!
Problems first, then an ideal treasure hunt, building solutions into the
framework, and bringing it all together into a Super Party!
Problems with Clues
Many of the clue-related problems come from the ways that treasure hunts are laid out.
The best known way is that clue one, when solved, leads you to clue two, which, when solved, leads you to clue three, and so on. Let's call those sequential clues.
A basic problem with sequentialization is that when any clue is missing, returned to the wrong place, stolen, or simply blown away, all progress stops dead at that spot.
Other problems come from the four ways sequential clues are laid out: (1) each team follows the same route in the same order; (2) each team follows the same route but they each start at a different clue; (3) each team has its own route and set of clues, or (4) some combination of (1)-(3), like three routes each followed by three teams starting at different clues.
The problem with (1) is that a smart team will just let a smarter team lead, playing follow-the-leader. When the leading team finds the last clue, they will tie them up or put them in a spell, solve that clue themselves, and rush away to claim the prize, hopefully eating or spending it before the other team returns to share their tale of woe! A bit dramatic, but you get the idea. Everybody is bunched up at the same places.
The second system partially solves that. Each team will start a clue apart and remain so, assuming they are equally brilliant or dense―an assumption that crumbles quickly as they, again, pile up at key clues.
That problem is solved with system (3). Yet it creates two huge problems of its own. One, the amount of work involved in creating and laying out three, five, or ten different sets of clues is overwhelming. Indeed, you are better off reading that whodunit. Plus the complaints later that "our clues were much harder than yours," or "our terrain was rougher," or "our drive was longer" aren't worth the hassle, because inevitably some will be harder, rougher, or longer.
The fourth system might solve some problems but it will inherit or create others.
By now you properly suspect that I'm not a fan of sequential clues. I'll show you a better way in a moment.
early treasure hunt that I laid out, in the wake of the Industrial Revolution,
on the outskirts of
Alas, one team, chosen at random from a hat, was composed of four foreigners. I had my misgivings but they seemed bright and assured me that they understood precisely what they were to do. This hunt was held on foot in an area about a mile square, and the first team to bring back a numbered tag from each of the 10 sites would win.
Off they went for what was limited to 90 minutes. I doubted anybody would get seven of the ten clues since they were so shrewdly worded and expertly placed. Twenty minutes later in bounded the foreigners, winded but clearly victorious! Until I looked at the tags. They had in fact solved their first two clues―and brought back all five tags, plus the clue, from each of the locations! They had the ten tags they thought they needed!
You can imagine the others' gripes when they went where they were certain the clue led them only to find an empty sack, without their tag or the next clue!
Plenty of cheap college food and beverage assuaged the rest of the players when they returned, and by the end of the night, after we had given away the prizes by playing other games, we all laughed at the snafu. But for me that was the end of sequential clues.
A second way, call it proliferation, is to give all the teams the same clues, let them find the sites, and collect whatever it is they are to gather to prove that they arrived.
That is far better. If a clue is too hard, they just go to the next one. If they can solve many or all of them at the outset, they can lay out their driving route to reap the maximum return in the least time and distance.
Most hunters, though, will solve the clues in the order in which they are written, and that can lead to bottlenecks and "follow-the-leader," so give everybody the same clues but list them in a different order. With cut-and-paste on a computer, even the old-fashioned rubber cement way, that is easy to do.
Another major change I make is not having anything removable at the clue site: no tags to bring back, no poker chips, nothing but a number that is well affixed for all time. The site might be a phone booth at Clark and Miner. The number is on the phone. They write that number by the clue, turn it in when they return, and if the number is right, bingo. It may be the branch number of a bank on the ATM machine, the capacity number in an elevator, the zip code of the town, or the price of a Mexican pizza at Taco Bell. I'll explain other ways this works later.
team is seeking a number, if they are being tailed by another team they can
quickly shake them with chicanery. Pull up to a light pole, all jump out,
pretend to hunt for some number at the base, have one person write something
down, and flee back to the car in mock jubilation. By the time the second group
catches on, the first team is long gone. Even better if they find a number: the
other team will be stumped for the rest of the night trying to match it to its
Additional problems with clues?
people don't understand them.
2. They get stolen by outsiders who see hunters appear, take something, and hurry away. So they take something too―the clues―and run away!
Misunderstanding usually comes because hunters don't know what they must do once they get to the site to find the next clue: climb a tree, dig in the sand?
But if you know you are seeking a number, usually a specific number when there are many, that is what you must extract from the clue: where and, if an issue, which number. Granted, every team has one member who is lucky to find the car twice in a row. The rest of the team takes up the mental slack.
Soon enough we'll explain how clues are written so the confusion is further reduced.
stealing the clue(s), by the proliferation system there is nothing to steal.
The number is affixed or part of the setting, like the phone number, the time
on a clock, or the call numbers of a radio station. Poor thieves, they would be
the most confused souls in the county. Like trying to steal
the laugh from a joke.