acornsLooking fun adult or youth retreat ideas? Nothing quite exemplifies the fun of group camping like a scavenger hunt. You get the thrill of exploring the outdoors, amicability of working in a small group, and the fun of friendly competition. Whether it’s for kids, teens or for adults, a scavenger hunt can be an exciting and rewarding experience. Just be sure to plan appropriately and your group will have a blast!  

There’s several different ways to go about a camping scavenger hunt. The traditional approach is to divide your group into teams and pass out a list prepared ahead of time. However, you can also have teams make their own lists.  Tell them to write down 10 or 15 objects that could be found on the campgrounds and pass it on to the next group. This will yield more variety of items (and potentially some more difficult and humorous ones). So make sure it would be appropriate for your group first.  

If you decide to write your own list, consider the following list of camp scavenger hunt ideas:    

  • Five different types of leaves 
  • Three different kinds of seeds 
  • A hiking stick 
  • A heart or arrowhead shaped rock 
  • An acorn A stick without any bark 
  • A piece of rope A pop tab and/or bottle cap 
  • A 3-leaf clover 
  • A stick shaped like a letter    

You can also write a number of broader items, like something red, or something shaped like a circle. This will encourage creativity as teams search. One approach is to use entirely subjective descriptions – i.e. something round, something smooth, something pretty. The fun in this game is to be inventive, rather than try to win. It’s better for non-competitive scavenger hunts.  
Once you select all your items, it’s time to make the list and set the prizes. For younger kids, be sure to include an image next to each item. Also consider stapling the list to paper shopping bags to create neat scavenger hunt kits. Prizes can range from small dollar store toys to candy, activity books or wilderness gear. For teens and adults, consider awarding gift cards.  

Also, if your camping group is older children and/or adults, a photo scavenger hunt might be more appropriate. Rather than collect objects in a bag, participants will take photos. Designate a group leader to take pictures on their cell phone. This approach gives you more options, as you can include intangible objects like wildlife, plants and geological features. Some ideas include:  

  • A brightly colored bird 
  • A tree shaped like a person 
  • Tree bark shaped like a face
  • A snail 
  • A butterfly 
  • A tree with a hole or nest 
  • A rock with moss on one side 
  • A cloud shaped like an animal    

If your camping group knows their wildlife, ask them to find species of birds, insects or mammals. It all depends on their level of expertise.  

Regardless of the age of participants, be sure to designate boundaries so nobody gets lost. Also, for younger children, be sure to designate chaperons. Now you’re on the way to planning a safe, exciting and eventful scavenger hunt!

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By Jaynie Schutlz, Co-Founder, Retreat Central 
Jaynie Schultz created Garrett Creek Ranch with her mother more than 20 years ago. She served as the founding Director of Sales and Marketing and is involved in many non-profit organizations and leadership development programs. 

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