There is nothing quite like the thrill of finding that first clue in a treasure hunt and then the next, and then all the others leading to a jackpot. Traditional treasure hunts are as much about the hunt as the treasure. They are about potential and using noggins to figure out where to go next. At its core, treasure hunting encourages curiosity, getting outside, and appreciating the adventures all around us. You never know what’s in store when a treasure hunt begins but sometimes the best treasures of all are the things that get kicked up on family walks around the block—like palm-sized smooth stones or a perfect four-leaf clover.
In this week’s blog, we’ll talk about some of the varieties of treasure hunting out there for families to explore the world around them while experiencing the thrill of the hunt! So get ready to explore, spend quality time together, and most importantly have fun. So onward, Treasure Hunter, the quest is waiting!
Treasure Hunting Tools
There are certain tools and tricks of the trade that every seasoned treasure hunter has on hand just in case they come in contact with the mother lode. (That is a gold panning term!) But for young treasure hunters all they really need is:
- a good shovel
- a pail to gather their finds
- a magnifying glass to look closely at their discoveries
- and if they really catch the treasure hunting buzz, perhaps a metal detector.
But really the most essential tools needed are a curious mind, an adventurous spirit, and some time for exploring!
4 Ways to Treasure Hunt with your Family
Children's Backyard Scavenger Hunt
This is one of our favorite ways to have a good hunt. Kids are remarkably good at finding bits and pieces of treasure and bringing each piece home to cover their night tables and shelves. Although they often need little direction, providing a checklist for kids to find specific treasure is a great way to get them outside and oriented toward the thrill of the hunt. (See our Nature Scavenger Hunt here for some more ideas!) Once they cross everything off their list, some kind of a special reward can be provided for the weary treasure hunters, a pot of gold, perhaps?
Traditional Kids' Treasure Hunt with Clues
There is a reason the classic birthday party treasure hunt is such a classic. It’s fun, engaging, and keeps kids busy, focused, and active for more than 15 minutes! There are tons of examples of do-it-yourself treasure hunts out there but personalizing a treasure hunt for your family’s interests and expertise elevates this party game to create lasting memories. Our favorite way to take this activity up a notch is making authentic style treasure maps for kids to mark as they uncover each clue. To make an authentic looking treasure map, take a piece of regular copy paper and put it in a baking pan filled with leftover coffee or hot water with tea bags. Soak it overnight. Let it dry and then rub a wet tea bag over the front. After it is dry, burn the edges over a sink. This is best if the paper is still a little damp so the paper won’t burn too quickly. Kids can decorate their maps prior to their treasure hunt. Old maps often had a compass rose and mythical beasts to signify the unknown with the quote, “Here there be monsters.”
Hide and Seek: Geocaching
With clues, a trail to follow, and coordinates, geocaching is a hobby that’s truly taking the world by storm. (There is even a geocache in space!) The word “geo” means earth and the word “cache” (pronounced cash) means a place for hiding things. Which means you will be exploring the earth for hidden containers bearing treasure. Caches are what explorers, gold miners, and pirates have used for centuries to hide their loot. In this case, the cache you will find is hidden on a certain set of coordinates, the set point that locates a position on a map. The cache is filled with cool trinkets and a log book to sign. The first step to geocaching is registering at one of the many geocache websites to share local coordinates and find nearby geocaches, rated on how difficult they are to find and how challenging the terrain is by a five-star system—1 star being the easiest and 5 the hardest. The site will also share how far away the cache is, the size and type, when it was placed, and when it was last found. And last but not least, there will be a clue. Follow the coordinates to the first cache and clue and then the next and the next until finally treasure is found!
The Stamp Marks the Spot: Letterboxing
If the idea of geocaching is appealing but something a bit more artsy and a little less technological is more interesting, geocaching’s older cousin, letterboxing is a great one to try. Letterboxing works a lot like geocaching—a waterproof container is hidden in an interesting, remote, or beautiful place such as a mountain top or a nature center. The letterbox hider creates a clue which is then entered and compiled on a letterboxing website and listed according to geographic area. Each letterbox contains a rubber stamp and a logbook and the person hunting for the letterbox carries a signature rubber stamp with them. The rubber stamp can be made from scratch or store-bought and letterbox enthusiasts take great pride in their rubber stamp designs. When searching for letterboxes be equipped with a pen or pencil, a unique stamp, a stamp pad, and a personal logbook. Once the clue is deciphered and the box is found, simply stamp the logbook held within the box with your stamp and then stamp the logbook with the stamp inside the letterbox. This stamped record grows in one’s logbook and becomes a vibrant visual representation of all the many letterboxes discovered.
We hope these ideas have inspired your family to get out there and look for some treasure! Speaking of... we have a pretty amazing treasure to share so be on the lookout for some swashbuckling news that will add even more adventure and fun to your family's game night!