How to Plan A Scavenger Hunt For Teens

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This past weekend we got together with some of my son’s friends and held a scavenger hunt at a local shopping center to celebrate his birthday. WE HAD SO MUCH FUN! After posting pics on my instagram, a lot of people were asking questions about how I did this and that so I decided to do a post on it.

If you ever went on scavenger hunts as a teen (we used to do them with church a lot) then you know how incredibly fun they can be. Here is my list of steps to pull it off with low fuss, low muss:

  • Choose a Location: We chose an outdoor shopping center because the kids can be a little louder there and not disrupt anything or disturb anyone.
  • Send out invites! Initially, I sent out evites (email invites), thinking that would be the simplest and surest way to reach everyone. I was wrong though, because very few teenagers check email as it turns out. They check texts. Email is old hat y’all (I didn’t know this either). So I had Brady send texts to everyone and I contacted the parents.
  • Be sure you let parents know what to expect – If you are inviting parents to drop their kids off, make sure you come right out and say that. If you need volunteers to help with the hunt, be sure you request them. Have multiple forms of communication (emails, phone, etc) and make sure every parent has a way to contact you during or after the party should the need arise. We made sure to tell parents that each team would have an adult with them at all times (because that is just how we roll). Remind kids to bring their phones and make sure they are fully charged for pictures!
  • Make out your list. This is where it gets really fun. Talk to friends and family members to get as many creative ideas as possible. However, keep your location in mind when planning and make sure you don’t add anything that might cause your participants to get into trouble. Check out my list at the bottom of this post for ideas to give you a jump start and then add your own ideas in the comments to help expand all of our lists!
  • Give parents a designated drop off location and time as well as pickup location and time.

We waited around at the location while everyone arrived and once the gang was all there  I handed out shirts to each person. The shirts were an important part of the scavenger hunt (see my list) and I thought they’d be a neat momento. To save money, you can forego this or just ask kids to bring an old t shirt they don’t mind having folks write on.

Once we did that, we divided up into teams. Next time I do this, that is the one thing I will do differently. I ended up placing them on teams based on who was born on odd and even days and it pretty much worked out. A more fun (and easier) way to do it would be to place two different colors of lollipops or laffy taffy in a bag and having them draw.

Each team was assigned an adult “coach” to walk around with them, help take photos if needed, and make sure no one gave them any trouble (or vice versa in some cases, but that isn’t a concern with these kids) and I went over the rules:

  • Do not be intrusive or disrespectful of any person, business, or creature (natural or mythical). There was a Dr Who convention at the location of the scavenger hunt so mythical creatures could have possibly come into play and I didn’t want to upset any weeping angels.
  • Stay out of the way of crowds.
  • Remain with your group at all times.  Except for the bathroom, of course 🙂

Each team chose a captain and a person responsible for taking photos of everything. I gave that person my cell phone number so that they could text me a photograph of each item along with its number as they went down the list.

And then, we were off! Here are some of the more memorable pics and the total list follows.

How to Plan A Scavenger Hunt For Teens

Seeing their list for the first time…

How to Plan A Scavenger Hunt For Teens

Signing Shirts

How to Plan A Scavenger Hunt For Teens

Riding air horses outside of P.F. Changs

How to Plan A Scavenger Hunt For Teens

Searching for an imaginary lost contact

How to Plan A Scavenger Hunt For Teens

Posing with a fire hydrant as if it were a celebrity

How to Plan A Scavenger Hunt For Teens

An Entire team in a photo booth at one time. (This is a classic)

How to Plan A Scavenger Hunt For Teens

Playing Twister without the Twister mat

How to Plan A Scavenger Hunt For Teens

Re-enacting the King Of The World scene from Titanic

How to Plan A Scavenger Hunt For Teens

A business card from an Apple Store employee with birthday greetings written to Brady on it 🙂

How to Plan A Scavenger Hunt For Teens

All of the girls on your team in one bathroom stall. (Make sure there are girls on each team!)

How to Plan A Scavenger Hunt For Teens

The number 15 (for Brady’s fifteenth birthday)

Shooting a commercial for your team.

How to Plan A Scavenger Hunt For Teens

An entire team in midair.

These are just some of the highlights. All in all, I had 25 things to find and photograph and then a few questions to answer. I was really surprised that both teams finished everything on the list!

How to Plan A Scavenger Hunt For Teens

This was great fun, more fun that I even remembered it being when I was a teen. Everyone loved it and it gave them some fun things to do while hanging out and having a good time.

We are thinking about hosting another scavenger hunt once school starts back and inviting the new kids at school to help everyone get to know each other better. If we do that one, we’ll have kids bring their own shirts and definitely make sure we have plenty of adults.

Here is the entire list. I specifically wrote it to keep everyone out of the stores (with the exception of one) to avoid any disruptions and I tried to come up with a few challenges but they rose to the occasion and had a ball doing it!

Brady’s Birthday Scavenger Hunt!

  1. A coin with Brady’s birth year on it.
  2. Get a stranger to serenade you.
  3. Take a photo of your team with a person wearing a concert t-shirt.
  4. The team with a person playing a musical instrument
  5. Convince a stranger to sing a Justin Bieber song (video) to the team.
  6. A business card from someone in the apple store with birthday wishes to Brady written on it.
  7. Have your entire team sign your shirts
  8. Have the other team sign your shirts
  9. Come up with a team name and logo that can be quickly drawn and draw it on everyone’s shirts
  10. Photo of two team members with a uniformed police officer
  11. Entire team jumping, each member must be mid air
  12. Entire team posing in front of the fountain
  13. Entire team playing twister – without a twister mat.
  14. A married couple kissing.
  15. A clock striking 7:00 pm
  16. All of the girls on your team in a bathroom stall (Boys stay outside for this)
  17. The number 15
  18. The entire team posing for a photo with coins over their eyes
  19. The entire team with a fire hydrant behaving as if the fire hydrant were a celebrity.
  20. Shoot a commercial about your team. Bonus points if Brady is in the commercial.
  21. Everyone “searching” frantically on the ground for a contact lens
  22. Pictures of each of the letters of BRADY, from all different signs, and formed into a collage. App suggestion : instacollage
  23. Two members of your team re-enacting the King Of The World scene from the Titanic
  24. Your entire team in a photo booth – at the same time.
  25. The entire team riding air horses in front of the PF Chang horse


How many benches are there at Bridge street?

What is the time of the last movie showing at the Monaco tonight?

How many sinks are there in the men’s restroom?

I’d LOVE to hear your ideas on more things we can add to the list since we are planning another hunt soon.

Please share your ideas in the comments below.

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  1. Oh what fun! You were probably smart to contain it to an outdoor mall. We had to drive all over town—that’s what the adult team members were for !!! We had things like finding a cop eating a donut in a donut shop, find the statue of liberty on the capital grounds, find a phone booth (impossible nowdays), picture with an ambulance and attendant (harder to find, but they do park all over town), pose with a certain make and model of car (maybe that would be the birthday person’s dream car), find a couple married at least 40 years), sculpt something from Play Doh that was at least 8″ tall.(must be able to stand without props).

    Other times we had the different teams get items for a dinner. Team A might get 4 dozen eggs, Team B might get 3 pounds of bacon, Team C might get hashbrowns. Once the hunt was over, we made a late night breakfast from the ingredients they found. They found the items in their own homes. Teams were penalized if they purchased their items . By penalized it meant they were the last team to eat, or had to wash dishes.

  2. Gee, I haven’t been on a scavenger hunt in years. We used to like to hunt things that weren’t always what they seemed … for instance red hollyberries in September. Most of the girls in the group managed to carry lipstick and the organizers recognized pink as a form of red.

  3. How about find someone with shoe laces that aren’t white? Someone who doesn’t have a cell phone. Find someone who has salon-frosted hair. Find someone with red hair. Find someone with green eyes. Find someone who wears a size 6 shoe. Find someone who wears a size 14 shoe. Find someone wearing sandals who has their toes painted. Gee, sounds like I am obsessed with shoes and feet!!!

  4. We use to have so much fun doing these at youth rallies as a kid (of course, we used polaroid cameras back then.)
    Some suggestions: all team members in front of a fire truck with at least one fireman in the picture; all team members on a seesaw or slide; all team members acting like they are looking through the jungle foliage (planters at the mall) for wild animals; all team members doing the bunny hop or playing leap frog. Also, we had items that we could collect, such as, a certain number of shopping bags from various stores with the store logos on them, a packet of soy sauce from the Chinese restaurant in the mall, a plastic food service glove from one of the restaurants, a map of the mall, etc.

  5. This is SO cool!! My oldest turns 16 in a few weeks & we’ve had no idea what to do for his party. This sounds AWESOME!! Thank you!

  6. You are so creative! I am going to keep this in mind for a few more years until my daughter is old enough!

      1. Outsmarting kids w/ Santa – my 3 came down to NOTHING but a red card – one Christmas. My eldest could drive, no traffic 12/25 so cards/clues were hidden all over town. One of the greatest holidays ev er (except the daughter who announced “Mom would NOT move the presents” “why don’t we go around the corner and wait her out”…………lol. Scavenger hunts are a blast. I had help from local FFDept and others stuck working on Christmas morning – sending them here and there…….congrats on yours – good luck with the next one!

  7. Great suggestions and it looks like everyone had a really great time! Wish I had at last one creative bone in my body but alas there are none!

    1. These ideas look fantastic! I am passing them along to my daughter & granddaughter to plan a party for my great-granddaughter. I taught school for many years and used scavenger hunts to acquaint students in 6th grade with their new school. I also used them to get students to know their new textbooks. Students always loved these activities. Hopefully, these ideas will continue with others adding their touches. Angela, don’t worry about creativity or lack thereof. Christy has great guidelines here for you. My only suggestion if you feel a little intimidated is to start with a smaller group of kids…teachers are used to large groups but you can do these activities with 6, 8 or 10 kids just as well. Have FUN!

    2. I have found a few that are fun!
      -Doing the chicken dance in front of KFC, video proof
      -“I can’t believe we all fit in here..”
      -Pic of x amount of people with 2 people who work at Lowes (substitute with whatever you’d like)

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