Scavenger Hunts

by Theresa Ferrari, Extension Specialist, 4-H Youth Development

Getting outside is good for your health! If you’re looking for some fun this summer, how about doing a scavenger hunt. A scavenger hunt is a game that starts with a prepared list of specific objects for participants to gather or locate. Scavenger hunts are more than just a way to keep busy, they are a way to build critical thinking skills and have fun at the same time. Scavenger hunts with players working in groups has the added benefit of fostering social connections and teamwork. They lend themselves to a variety of situations for many reasons.

  • They don’t require many supplies, which makes them affordable and easy to implement.
  • They can be as simple or elaborate as you want.
  • They can be played as individuals or with teams.
  • They can be customized to a variety of age groups.
  • They are adaptable to small or large groups.
  • They can be played in various ways.

Adults or teens can plan the scavenger hunt or turn the task over to younger children to create it (given some parameters and guidance). For example, camp counselors could plan a scavenger hunt for a Cloverbud day camp.

To create a scavenger hunt, you’ll need to decide on the elements such as the type and theme. Make sure to define if anything is off limits. Then follow these basic steps.

  1. Make a list of items for participants to find or things to do. A Google search will also turn up printable scavenger hunt sheets, such as this one.
  2. Define the search area (backyard, neighborhood, park, etc.)
  3. Decide on a time limit for completion.
  4. Decide how you will complete the game: Is it finding the most items? Or is the goal for everyone to find the items and share what they found? Are you going to do something with the items once your find them?

Scavenger Hunt Ideas

group of children

Scavenger hunts are a great way for kids of all ages to have fun and be active

  • Items that are a particular color or shape
  • Items that involve the senses: something smooth, something soft, 3 things you can hear, etc.
  • Items to correspond to letters of the alphabet
  • Items in nature: leaf, flower, feather, rock, twig, acorn, pine cone, bird’s nest, animal tracks, etc.
  • Items in a neighborhood: traffic light, street sign, mailbox, flag, fire hydrant, fence, etc.
  • Local landmarks or points of interest in the community (park, water, building)
  • Players doing certain activities (making a silly face, climbing on a rock, standing on one foot, etc.)

Mix and match to add some challenge: a red door, a blue flower, a white car.

Scavenger Hunt Variations

  • In a photo scavenger hunt, instead of collecting objects, players take a photo of the items they find, the places they have to locate, or the activity they have to perform. It would require participants to have a camera or smartphone to complete.
  • A virtual scavenger hunt is a great way to connect with friends and family in different locations. The hunt occurs in various locations, but the items you search for are the same. Participants complete the scavenger hunt and then connect with other players over a video conferencing platform.
  • Being outside is a way to get in some physical activity. Being out in nature has other positive benefits. Direct exposure to nature and the outdoors has been found to have a restorative and calming effect. It shifts focus and provides an escape. Check out this site for some ideas for a nature scavenger hunt.
  • If fitness is your focus, direct participants to go to various locations and add in a physical activity to do at each location: 10 jumping jacks, walking lunges, push ups, etc.
  • There’s an app for that! Scavenger hunts have gone digital! You can create one using the Goosechase. This free app lets you create and organize your own scavenger hunt, or you can use the bank of 100+ tested games.

Whatever format you decide on, have fun doing it! Happy hunting!


Beighle, A., &  Darst, P. W. (2004). Fitness scavenger hunts for middle school students. Strategies, 17(6), 13–15.

Gruno, J., & Gribbons, S. L. (2020). Incorporating nature-based physical activity in physical and health education. Journal of Physical Education, Recreation & Dance, 91(3), 26–34.

Getting Started in Mindfulness

hands hold mug of tea

        Getting Started in Mindfulness

Mindfulness has become a popular term. But what exactly is it? Mindfulness is the ongoing process of paying attention to your thoughts, emotions, and experiences in a particular way: on purpose, in the present moment, and without judging. How can you get started in mindfulness?

To start, let’s break down this definition:

  • On purpose – Doing something on purpose, or being intentional, means you don’t leave it to chance. You make it a priority to use mindfulness techniques and to go about your day in a mindful manner.
  • In the present moment – Often we are worried about things that happened in the past or might happen in the future. This worry overtakes us to the point where we can’t focus on the present. Being mindful means that we focus on what we are experiencing in the here and now. This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t think ahead and plan, because that’s important too.
  • Without judging – Sometimes we are so hard on ourselves. We get down on ourselves for not doing better and then feel like a failure. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t “make the best better” and try to improve our skills. It means we need to be kind to ourselves, because these negative thoughts can actually have the opposite effect – we give up trying to do better. Without judging also applies to how we approach others.

We are also often quick to judge others and their motives. I try (but don’t always succeed) to give people the benefit of the doubt, and hope that people will extend that same consideration to me when I’m having a bad day. I was reminded of this one time on an airplane trip a few years ago. The woman next to me had the air blasting and was fanning herself. I did an internal eyeroll and thought to myself, “This is going to be a long flight.” As we were nearing the end of the trip, we struck up a conversation. It turned out she had been flying all day and was on her way to a funeral of a family member. Boy, did that put me in my place. You never know what someone else is dealing with that might explain their actions. At least I kept my thoughts to myself and didn’t say anything mean to her. It was a good reminder to withhold my judgment. And if there is anything that 2020 taught us, it’s to approach life with a healthy dose of grace.

            Watch: Everyday Mindfulness

Today’s Take-Away: This short video explains what everyday mindfulness is, and how being aware of what is going on around you and inside of you can help make life more enjoyable and less stressful.

Why mindfulness? Research shows that mindfulness can improve mental health and well-being. When young people learn and practice techniques for mindfulness, it can help them pay attention, which can lead to better school performance. It can also reduce stress levels.

As Patrice Powers-Barker, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, reminds us in her Introduction to Mindfulness fact sheet, the purpose of practicing mindfulness exercises on a regular basis is not necessarily to get better at it. The goal of the practice is to make mindfulness a habit or routine as part of a healthy lifestyle. As the 4-H slogan says, we “learn by doing.” As with anything new, it can take a while for these techniques to seem natural and become part of your routine.

To Learn More…

Mindfulness is a way to bring connection between the brain, mind, body, and behavior. In yesterday’s post, I shared the upcoming Healthy Body Healthy Mind SPIN Club. The activities in this SPIN Club, such as yoga and breathing exercises, will help you learn some mindfulness techniques. This SPIN club is a great place to start your mindfulness practice.

Extension Educators Shannon Carter and Pamela Montgomery will be offering a program next week to introduce teen volunteers, adult volunteers, and 4-H parents to the concept of mindfulness. The Mindful Wellness program will be held on January 12 from 5:30-6:30pm. This one-time program is designed to equip healthy people with practices and skills to strengthen the mind and body connection and promote holistic health and wellness across the lifespan.

  • When: January 12 from 5:30-6:30pm
  • Where: Zoom (link sent after registering)
  • Who: Designed for adult volunteers, teen volunteers, and 4-H parents
  • What: Extension Educators Shannon Carter and Pamela Montgomery will lead this session.
  • Cost: It’s free to participate.
  • Register here.

It’s never too early to encourage the practice of mindfulness. In her Cloverbud Connections article, Aubry Fowler, Extension Educator, 4-H Youth Development, Fairfield County, shares some ideas for working with Cloverbuds (ages 5 to 8).

We’ll revisit the topic of mindfulness as part of Ohio 4-H’s Mental Health Month. Come back for more information and ideas!

Yours in Health,