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What is a Scavenger Hunt?

Jessica Ellis
Updated May 17, 2024
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A scavenger hunt is a game in which participants try to find all the items or complete all the activities on a list. It can be played in teams or by individuals, and is often timed. The winner in a scavenger hunt is the person or team that first returns with a completed list.

Scavenger lists for hunts can be wide and varied, and often include challenges that need to be completed creatively. If a list asks for “a picture of a George Washington” for example, you might get around the requirement by photographing a United States one-dollar bill, which features the president. Usually, creative interpretations are highly appreciated in a scavenger hunt, as long as the submission comes with a convincing argument as to why it fits the description.

Making a lists for scavenger hunts can be a lot of fun. Consider theming all the items required around one idea, or including a mix of activities and items. Completion of activities needs to be proven by the team or individual in some way; if the task is to ride the local Ferris wheel, teams should have to provide a photo from the top. If the game will be played in teams, be sure to add items to the list that will require good teamwork in order to complete.

A scavenger hunt is often a feature of children’s parties, but it is also used by many workplaces as a team-building exercise. In addition to giving workers a chance to get out of the office and have some fun on the job, friendships and bonds can strengthen as a result, giving you a happier, more motivated workforce. The game can also be a good way to create bonds and teach lessons about creative thinking and teamwork to students. As a teaching tool and a team-building game, a scavenger hunt can truly enrich a work or learning environment.

Several groups take the game even further, competing in nation and international scavenger games. The University of Chicago Scavenger Hunt is held annually and attracts over 300 teams vying for fame. Items from the 2008 list includes a cartoon-animal balloon up to Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade standards and a bust of Abraham Lincoln constructed from pennies. This scavenger hunt is based on points, rather than fully-completed list, and some items have famously never been found.

A scavenger hunt can be a great way to have some fun while jump starting the creative brain. It can also be a wonderful way to introduce children to the concepts of riddles and thinking outside the box. Check local community activities to see if there are any nearby local hunts for you and your family and friends. Or organize one yourself for your neighborhood or office; coming up with the clues and lists can be as much fun as hunting for yourself!

WiseGEEK is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Jessica Ellis
By Jessica Ellis
With a B.A. in theater from UCLA and a graduate degree in screenwriting from the American Film Institute, Jessica Ellis brings a unique perspective to her work as a writer for WiseGEEK. While passionate about drama and film, Jessica enjoys learning and writing about a wide range of topics, creating content that is both informative and engaging for readers.

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Jessica Ellis

Jessica Ellis

With a B.A. in theater from UCLA and a graduate degree in screenwriting from the American Film Institute, Jessica Ellis...
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