Are you getting tired of entertaining your kids at home all day, every day? We are, too, and chances are, almost every parent who lives in your community also feels the same way in this never-ending spring break. The kids are going stir-crazy, and so are the parents. Why not take this opportunity while we’re all stuck at home (minus essential workers, of course) during the quarantine to pull a few (or heck, even a whole bunch) of the families on your street together for a neighborhood scavenger hunt? Just be sure to practice social distancing if you do. Then, pick a day or week when the weather forecast is suitable for outdoor fun, and make it happen.
How to Organize a Neighborhood Scavenger Hunt
It’s easier than you think to plan a neighborhood scavenger hunt. Here are some helpful tips:
1. Know your audience.
During the quarantine, some clever parents on social media have already been displaying things like green St. Patrick’s Day shamrocks, colorful Easter eggs, stuffed teddy bears, and paper kindness hearts (see news story here) in their windows for neighborhood kids to hunt and find. Different kinds of paper flowers might be fun for a window scavenger hunt as we head toward Mother’s Day.
There are also endless free nature scavenger hunt printables available on Pinterest and teacher blogs that you can use with your kids and share with your neighbors via text, Facebook, and Nextdoor. You can even draw colorful images with chalk on sidewalks and driveways or leave brightly painted rocks, fake pirate booty coins, or seashells throughout your neighborhood for kids to find. These scavenger hunt ideas are simple and fun for young children and their parents.
But there’s another easy way to make a more sophisticated and challenging hunt for older kids and adults to enjoy together while socially distancing.
2. Plan your hunt.
You can create an interactive scavenger hunt for up to three teams for free on your computer at Goosechase.com. And don’t worry, they offer plenty of doable options in their Missions Bank if you’re short on ideas. Some of my favorites include finding and taking a picture of a license plate where all digits add up to 11, a set of twins, a dog, and one of your teammates surfing on an ironing board. (I’m not really sure if the ironing board is supposed to be lying on the ground or set up for ironing in this scenario. Be careful with that one. Ha!)
Then three families who live near you can compete against one another as teams using the Goosechase app for free on their smartphones. Teams complete missions in the allotted time you set for the hunt by submitting photos or videos in the app. (You can also upgrade to the paid version of Goosechase to allow more than three teams to compete against one another.)
Another great option is to create a scavenger hunt in your neighborhood Facebook group or Nextdoor by posting a list of missions and a time limit. Then you can have an unlimited number of competing families upload their photos or videos there. When the time is up, you will need to tally up how many missions each family has completed and announce the winner.
3. Pick your prize.
Maybe the coveted neighborhood scavenger hunt prize can be a few jumbo rolls of toilet paper, a big bottle of hand sanitizer, or even some masks (delivered through porch dropoff, of course)! Maybe it’s a package of Oreo cookies, a box of Goldfish crackers, and a bottle of wine for Mom. Or perhaps the prize is a few fun outdoor toys, a fresh bottle of sunscreen, a spray bottle of mosquito repellent, and lighter fluid for the grill since we are moving into warmer weather soon.
Your prize can also be neighborhood bragging rights, but you might consider creating an awards certificate to post on social media and/or print and tape to the winner’s front door. Be sure to announce the prize, no matter how impressive or silly it may be. Be upfront to help get the families around you excited about competing against one another and having fun together (six feet apart, of course) outside their homes.
4. Tell your neighbors.
Pick a few neighbors who have kids and who you hopefully know fairly well to help you spread the word about your neighborhood scavenger hunt. Have them text or Facebook message neighbors they know who also have children to get them involved. Then those neighbors can tell the neighbors with children they know and so on. You get the idea.
Unless you’re using the free version of Goosechase, the more families, the merrier with this hunt. Once you feel like you have enough teams participating and good enough weather for your neighborhood’s outdoor adventures, start the scavenger hunt.