Make it a Scavenger Hunt

We’re so close to our first camping trip of the season I can almost taste it. I’m so excited to see the amazing experiences of camping through the eyes of our almost 2-year-old son! He’s so much more stable on his feet than last season, doesn’t dread bundling up when needed, and loves being outside. At his age he is loving exploring everything, so I think it’s time we took him on his first scavenger hunt, even if he still needs lots of help from mommy and daddy. Young or older, outdoorsy or indoorsy, try creating your own simple scavenger hunt to increase the fun and excitement for your little campers this year. Look for a free scavenger hunt printable at the end of this article!

CREATING YOUR LIST

Creating your own scavenger hunt really doesn’t have to be involved. All you need to do is make a list of safe items for your child to look for based on what is reasonable for the area you’re camping at. The size of your list depends on the attention span of your child, but I suggest starting off with about 10 items. If you’re creating a hunt for young kids (any under reading age) or just looking to make things more interesting, add pictures to your list. Looking for pinecones? Copy and paste a small picture next to the word “pinecone”, so little ones know what to look for simply based on the picture. Got little artists? Use black and white “clipart” style images and let them color in the items before they go or while they’re out on the hunt. As they color each item, use this time to discuss the list with them- making sure they know what each item is and where they might want to look for them. Some kids tend to get easily discourage trying new things on their own and may quickly call for help if they don’t find something right away. Discussing in advance where they might search can give them a starting point if they get stumped.

MAKE IT FUN

Your little explorer will really feel like an explorer with a few extra supplies to take on their journey. Depending on the age and interest of your child, consider packing along any of the following items:

Binoculars- what fun it is to use a special tool as they search for the items on their list. While it may not be necessary or required for the search, they will have fun searching in a new way that makes it feel like an extra special and important process.

Magnifying Glass- as items are gathered you can show your child how to look at each item in more detail with their very own magnifying glass. Pick one up on the cheap from Dollar Tree and keep yourself from fretting about dirt or damage.


Magnifying Glass Adds Much to New Discoveries

Shovel/Butterfly Net- Whether they’re digging, scooping, or just collecting each item, having a fun tool to pick it up with may add to the excitement for your child. Found a special stone? Scoop it up with your shovel or butterfly net (also found at Dollar Tree - in the seasonal section). Looking for something out of reach - use your net to reach that next branch, etc. while staying safely on the ground.


Make Use of an Inexpensive Butterfly Net

Special Snacks- What’s an outdoor adventure without some great fuel boosting snacks. Pack a few of your child’s favorites to keep energy and interest up while they’re on the hunt or between searching for items. I know our snack loving son would definitely approve.

Drinks- If you give a child a snack, of course they’ll need a drink to go with it. Pack a fun water bottle for their use and keep them properly hydrated on their hunt.


Pack a Fun Water Bottle or Cup to Keep Hydrated

Collection Bag- if the items on your list are things your child is allowed to collect or bring back to camp- include a simple collection bag. This may be as simple as a zip top, canvas, draw string or mesh bag. Find something to hold all their treasures so they can bring them back to show others at camp or just enjoy looking over their special finds on their own.

Backpack- With all or any of these supplies coming along on the hunt, your child will need something to keep it all in. Let them store these in a backpack or small bag- something light weight and easy for them to carry around and access easily on their search.

MAKE IT PRACTICAL

Whether your child is out there on their own or searching with you beside them, make things practical on their scavenger hunt.

Proper Attire/Supplies- Before heading out on their hunt make sure your child is dressed appropriately for the weather conditions. Is it cold and rainy? Bring out the rain coats and boots. Hot and sunny? Pack sunscreen and apply it in advance. Use a hat for additional sun protection. Once again make sure you bring along plenty to drink.

Realistic Items- When selecting items for your child’s scavenger hunt, think about what they realistically can find in your area. Challenging items are okay, but too many hard to find items may make your child lose interest before the search is done or leave them discouraged. If there are items your child is expected to collect or gather, make sure to take the height of your child into account. If they’re on their own you don’t want them putting themselves in harms way trying to reach something. Whether you accompany your child on the hunt or not, discuss a few ground rules to help ensure they stay safe along the way.

Make the List Easy to Use -Whether your list will have your child coloring in each item or simply checking a box once an item is found, including a clipboard can make it much easier to use the list while also making it feel fun and important.

“Weather-proofing” Your List- Paper and rain are not a good combo, but living in the PNW means rain is often likely. Consider placing a page protector over top of your scavenger list attached to a clipboard. This will help keep your paper intact and is easy to lift up so you can fill in your list as needed. Alternately you can place the list in a binder to help shield it from the rain as well. If your child is old enough you may consider laminating your paper and filling it in with a permanent marker. Whatever keeps things simple and practical for your family.


Building Memories with a Fun Scavenger Hunt

Wherever your next trip takes you, consider taking a few minutes to put together a scavenger hunt for your child or print off the sample included here. Add extra excitement to your child’s exploration this trip and try something new. Adventure awaits! Happy hunting!

Emily Helgeson
Author: Emily Helgeson
Emily Helgeson lives with her husband and son in Eastern Washington. They enjoy adventuring together and are learning how to use their RV to continue this lifestyle with their growing family.

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