Interesting facts about scavenger hunts!

Scavenger hunts seem to be synonymous with having fun, being active and having a good time with a group of friends, colleagues or family.

In this short article we will explore what a scavenger hunt is, some facts about scavenger hunts and what makes them a great choice for a team building activity or just some awesome group fun!

What is a scavenger hunt?

An FAQ image of someone thinking

In its most basic form a scavenger hunt is where you get a list of unusual items, tasks or challenges that need to be collected or completed and you or a team have to figure out how you can go about this.

Usually a scavenger hunt has a time limit with the winners being those who have completed most taks, or sometimes it is simply the first person or team to have completed all tasks.

Human beings can get very creative and therefore the options for what a scavenger hunt may ask you to do and how to do it are pretty endless. One scavenger hunt may be very different from another.  Here are some different examples that you may come across:

A puzzle scavenger hunt – teams have to find clues and solve puzzles and complete tasks along the way. This falls between a scavenger hunt and a treasure hunt.

Online scavenger hunt – you get a list of items, people or questions that you might need to find, locate or answer online. The list may be provided in the form of riddles to increase the complexity.

Quite often scavenger hunts can combine a number of these elements which makes them awesome for a fun scavenger hunt team building event. Even if people have done a number of scavenger hunts before, each one is so different so it should not impact the fun they are likely to have.

In the same way as if you have watched a movie you can still get enjoyment watching another!

Photo scavenger hunt – pretty much the same as the above but they do not have to get them just take a photo of them as evidence that they located the object.

Video scavenger hunt – the same as above but they take a video instead of a photo.

Complete tasks – instead of collecting objects may be you have to complete tasks and collect evidence of doing this (either using photo or videos).

QR code scavenger hunt – Pretty much could include all of the above but instead of getting a list of items, tasks or challenges, players have to find a QR code which when scanned will reveal what the team need to do.

GPS scavenger hunt – teams have to go to a specific location and when they get to that location they will find a challenge. This could be provided by finding something at the location (like a QR code) or could be shared automatically on your device when you get to the hotspot!

Collect objects scavenger hunt  – In this scavenger hunt you get a list of items that you have to find and then bring back. There may be rules such as you are not allowed to purchase them.  The objects could depend on the theme for example:

    • Christmas Scavenger Hunt
    • Halloween Scavenger Hunt
    • Thanksgiving Scavenger Hunt
    • Nature Scavenger Hunt
    • Campus Scavenger Hunt
    • Easter Scavenger Hunt
    • City tour scavenger Hunt
    • Business Scavenger Hunt
    • Murder Mustery Scavenger Hunt
    • Escape Game Scavenger Hunt
A team enjoying their virtual treasure hunt from Cluego
A team celebrating their Cluego team building game win

Facts about Scavenger Hunts

According to game scholar Markus Montola, scavenger hunts evolved from ancient folk games such as Easter Egg hunts and other forms of treasure hunts. According to Markus Montola, a Finnish game scholar and a co-author of “Pervasive Games: Theory and Design.” The difference between a treasure hunt and a scavenger hunt is that in the former you’re in search of something you want, and in the latter you’re after something nobody wants.

Gossip columnist Elsa Maxwell popularized scavenger hunts in the United States with a series of exclusive New York parties starting in the early 1930s. The scavenger-hunt craze among New York’s elite was satirized in the 1936 film My Man Godfrey, where one of the items socialite players are trying to collect is a “Forgotten Man”, a homeless person.

The longest-running game of scavenger hunt is the one conducted among Chicago’s dorms where the participants have to find items based on that year’s listing, starting with the list itself. The event started in 1987.

Christopher Straus, University of Chicago class of ’88, created the school’s first scavenger hunt, in 1987, envisioning a modest diversion, limited to his dorm, whose purpose was to instill a sense of camaraderie. These days, many of the items on that first list seem like easy pickings—a hula hoop (10 points), a training bra (25 points), a painting on velvet (20 points).Then again, Item No. 93 was a nude dean, bound and gagged (500 points). The University of Chicago Scavenger Hunt. Scav, as it is now known on campus, is the college’s Rose Bowl: a mash-up of the Intel Science Talent Search, fraternity hazing, a pep rally, installation art, reality TV, and a 4-H fair.

The largest scavenger hunt consists of 2,732 participants, and was achieved at an event organized by Escape Manor Inc. (Canada), in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, on 10 September 2017. The scavenger hunt in celebration of Canada’s 150 anniversary. Participants attempted to complete as many of the 150 tasks throughout the city of Ottawa, including specialized trivia stations, posting more than 31,000 images to Instagram with the tag #find150.

The largest media scavenger hunt is ‘Greatest International Scavenger Hunt the World Has Ever Seen’, which was carried out by 14,580 participants and organised by Misha Collins (USA) between 29 October and 5 November 2012. 972 teams took part in the record attempt and each team was made up of 15 participants. The winning team was Badwolf.

The Global Scavenger Hunt™ (TGSH) is an annual around-the-world travel adventure competition that crowns The World’s Greatest Travelers™ and, in 2023, is offering a FREE around-the-world trip to the winners of the world travel championship (WTC).

The scavenger hunt is used by many corporations as a way of publicity. For instance, the sportswear brand Levi’s hid $100,000 in the country and conducted a scavenger hunt in 2009. The game involved finding hidden objects in 13 different places, completing challenges, etc. The campaign was called “Go Forth” and it ran for nearly six weeks.

National Scavenger Hunt day is on the 24th May each year.

What makes a scavenger hunt a great experience for a teambuilding activity?

There are so many reasons why a scavenger hunt is a great activity for any group but it is especially great as a team building activity for work colleagues or friends.  Here are our top reasons:

  • A scavenger hunt can take place pretty much anywhere so it is super flexible. Whether it is an in person event, virtual event or hybrid event a scavenger hunt type activity can work.
  • A scavenger hunt can easily scale whether there are just a handful of people or potentially thousands!
  • A scavenger hunt is a great activity that can be active, outdoors and also challenge the mind in terms of problem solving and being creative.
  • The concept of a scavenger hunt is pretty simple and something everyone can understand, get involved in and stuck into immediately.
  • As discussed above, a scavenger hunt can be highly customized and can be designed to meet pretty much any objective the team building activity needs to achieve.

In summary, a scavenger hunt is certainly not a new concept but they remain a popular choice for group activities. There are so many different ways that a scavenger hunt can be organized that they can always be made to feel fresh and a new experience.  The scavenger hunt at the University of Chicago that has been played every year since 1987 is an example of this! 

So if you are looking for an awesome team building activity that is fun, active and social and guaranteed to be a winner for a large group of people then contact ClueGo and let our team building experts walk you through how ClueGo’s GPS scavenger hunt experiences are unique and will provide an outstanding experience for your team.

Whether you want an in person team building experience with one of our popular games GoUrban in one city or a multi city experience, a virtual scavenger hunt experience or hybrid taking the best of both options then we can help.