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. What wonderful ideas.Our Church youth group is thinking of having one,maybe at our town’s Botanic Gardens.Things to find could be from the Aussie plant section,playgroud(everyone on the flying fox),zoo,mini railway,find someone having a picnic,join a family playing a game,oooohhh I’m inspired now, thanks

  2. I’m LOVING this idea and going to use parts of it for my daughter’s birthday! About how long did it take for the kids to complete? Trying to figure out how to plan for the activities.

  3. LOVE all your ideas. Thanks so much for posting this. I am planning a limo scavenger hunt for my 16 year old son’s birthday. It will be co-ed and I was going to do mall hunt and incorporate a few other stops. I had no idea where to start or how to go about this and your pictures/information is invaluable! Thanks sooo much! I will report back how it goes! The challenging part seems to be trying to figure out how much time they’ll need to do it in and get back in time…and then where to have the “after party” son wants pizza/cake and Music…community pool is out…really don’t want to do it my house…so trying to figure that part out! Thanks again!!!

    1. How did your limo scavenger hunt turn out? I’m planning the same thing this Friday for my daughter who turns 16 next week. I’m worried our local mall will not allow it but going to ask ahead of time. I’m also collecting the kids gift money and purchasing gift cards at my daughters favorite places and create clues for them to find them, such as Starbucks, five guys etc. I’m curious as to what you did. Thanks!

      1. Hello,
        I did a similar hunt for my daughter when she turned 16. She thought the family was going out to dinner so she was dressed nice. A limo pulled up and all her friends got out ( I had already decorated the inside with goodies and streamers). I created riddles and the limo driver handed them to the kids and they had to figure where they were going. The limo took my daughter and her friends all over the city with various stops (according to the riddles). Her favorite ice cream shop already prepaid for all, next a park with flowers and gems for all in the Japanese gardens, a stop in a boutique which had a section set up for all to “shop” (prepaid already). They had so much fun .. the limo driver was awesome and rolled out the red carpet everywhere they went. The whole night was a surprise and they all just love it!

  4. I took your ideas, and designed a surprise party for my 13 year old, a girl who HATES the mall. We showed up and her friends just started walking over and she was so excited! It was a small group of 6, so 2 groups of 3. We did this on a Monday, so the mall wouldn’t be too crowded. I incorporated the mall’s bungy jump (I paid for it a few days ahead). Then we ate dinner ate at her favorite restaurant attached to the mall with a few more family members showing up. She loved it. All the surprises, and hanging out with her friends. And we have lots of pics because most of the tasks had to be pics. We even got a freestyle rap from a sales associate, when we asked for someone to sing happy birthday!! Awesome party, thanks for the inspiration.

  5. Hi Christy I ordered a red Crank Your Tractor tee shirt on June 23,2014 I was wondering when I might recieve the shirt. I really love all of your recipes they are GREATTTTTTTTTT
    Thank You

  6. I always loved scavenger hunts when I was a kid! We always had “‘clue’s” to follow and when you got to one, you found another “clue” until we got to the end, which was always a fun prize! We did this when our daughter’s were in Daisy, Brownie and Girl Scouts! Always a fun thing to do at camp!
    Looks like everyone enjoyed themselves!

  7. Looks like they had so much fun.
    We tried this at our indoor mall. No one needed to go into a store-just the common areas-and it was with 12 year old girls AND each group had a parent. As soon as we gathered near the food court, security came over and kicked us out. No scavenger hunts allowed. So make sure it won’t be an issue in advance or you may be left with a bunch of kids and NOTHING to do. We weren’t loud. Or disruptive. They just saw us all holding lists (maybe 15-20 kids total) and approached us.
    I was more than a little bit angry.
    At the same mall I was told another year that we couldn’t take pictures in the food court of my daughter’s birthday cake (even though we had just finished celebrating her party at Build a Bear) because some people in the background might not want their pictures taken.
    Obviously our mall is NOT a place for fun! Come spend your money only.

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