The first scavenger hunt that I can remember happened when I was 7 years old. It wasn’t my birthday, or Christmas, or any other special day. It was an ordinary Saturday morning, and I left my room to have a bowl of cereal and watch some cartoons. This was the late 80’s, and Saturday morning cartoons were one of the greatest things in the world. Our family lived in a small apartment near Minneapolis. We didn’t have a VCR yet, so if I wanted to watch a certain show, I had to be in front of the TV at the right time. But my mom had better plans for me that morning.
She met me in the kitchen, and told me that she made a special scavenger hunt just for me, and there would be a big prize at the end. Then, she handed me the first clue. I don’t remember what most of the clues were, but I do remember that first one was inside a rolled up pair of socks in my dresser. That one really stuck with me, and I have used it when making my own scavenger hunts.
There were about 10 clues in total, and at each step of the way, there was a small toy or piece of candy waiting for me along with the next clue. I loved that part of it – I was the kid that always had a Lego figure or Micro Machines car in his pocket, so these little surprises were almost as cool as the big surprise.
The final clue took me to my parents’ closet. I remember this part very clearly. To the right of my mom’s extensive shoe collection was a large box wrapped in blue paper with a note on it that congratulated me on solving all of the clues. I grabbed the present and went out to the living room so that I could open it with her. Inside the box was the largest Decepticon (the evil Transformers) ever released during that time – Scorponok! This was the transformer that every kid wanted that year, and it dwarfed all of my other figures. I gave my mom a huge hug and thanked her a million times. Scorponok was one of my favorite childhood toys, and I played with it for many years until it finally fell to pieces.
My mom did other scavenger hunts for me, but that first one is always the one I remember the most. Looking back now, I think these are the things that made it really special:
1. It was a complete surprise
2. She left little treasures along the way
3. The final prize was very memorable
I think those three attributes could apply to almost any scavenger hunt, whether it is for a 7 year old kid, your best friend, or the love of your life.
I had a lot of fun digging up old photos for this post and taking a little trip back to the past. Thanks for reading!