Scavenger hunts have a long tradition in scouting. Not only do they encourage scouts to actively observe their surroundings, but they help foster good teamwork when participants hunt for items together as patrols. Any scavenger hunt can be done outdoors, but some can be modified for rainy or snowy days spent indoors.
Nature Scavenger Hunt
A nature-based scavenger hunt can help scouts become more aware of their surroundings while teaching them about nature. Ensure each patrol has a digital camera, and give them a list of natural items to find. Some items can be specific to the season and area, like certain insects, leaves and flowers. Add general items to encourage creativity, like "an animal's home"; colors like red, blue and orange; and cryptic items like "something that looks like a K."
The Litter Hunt
Help your scouts to become more aware of litter in their community by sending them on a scavenger hunt based on trash. Assign point values to different objects and tell them to collect as many items as they can. Give a point value for each type of litter, like one point for each plastic bag, five points for each can or bottle and 100 points for a discarded tire. Make unsafe items off-limits, like needles, discarded food and broken glass. To prevent ingenious scouts from raiding dumpsters, use the honor system to ensure they limit their efforts to curbs and sidewalks.
Rainy Day Riddles
A riddle-based scavenger hunt can be used outside or indoors on a rainy day. Gather some scouting gear and items from nature and write a riddle for each. For example, the riddle "Something for packing light?" would be a flashlight. Or, "Strike it out when you can't play ball," could refer to waterproof matches. "Always in the middle of the NEWS" would describe a compass. Mix in items that don't apply to the clues to make the hunt more challenging. Give each patrol a copy of the riddles and give them a time limit to find each item on the floor. Allowing 10 minutes for 20 items should be sufficient.
Compass Training Hunts
A compass-based scavenger hunt can work in the wilderness, in a parking lot or in a large gym. Write out a sentence, one word at a time on its own piece of paper, then tie the pieces to trees or place them on the floor. Give compass readings and distances to lead participants from one word to the other, like "120 degrees, 10 paces." Place other words around the area to ensure they follow the precise coordinates. When each patrol finishes, staggered five minutes apart, have them put their words into the right sentence.
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