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. Ugh! My Grandaughter just turned 15, I wish I had read this a week or so earlier. What a great idea! Gives me plenty of time for next year!

  2. We did this several years ago for my then 16 year old son. We did a video scavenger hunt with the youth group at church. That should tell you how long ago that was, before cameras on cell phones 🙂 They all enjoyed it so much. We had an adult drive them around town and video them at different places doing odd things. Take a picture in the cemetery with a head stone with the name “Smith” on it, everyone piled into a phone booth (not happening now), doing the hula hoop at WalMart, etc. I then served a Mexican supper at church with tacos, burritos and all the fixins.

  3. A few years ago I went on a ladies weekend trip to a nearby tourist town. The three of us ladies were around 40 years old. Our very creative daring friend suggested to do something fun to make our one overnight memorable. With a little wine we all eventually agreed. Her plan was to do a scavenger hunt and act like we were competing against another team (which we weren’t). We made our own list of crazy items and went around town trying to complete everything. We had items on there such as find someone with a hundred $100 bill, sit on a Harley motorcycle, play in a band. We did it all and it was the most memorable and fun night we have had in years.

  4. I wanted to throw a little 16 birthday party for my son. he doesn’t have too many friends but i wanted to make sure he has a great time. I found your page when i google it and i loved the idea. thank you so much. we will be doing in our neighborhood. i need to through your list to see which one would fit in the neighborhood. if you have more idea please share with me. his birthday is right before easter. so i was thinking to add some eggs too. thanks

  5. This is a lifesaver I have been racking my brain on how to do one for the last three weeks and Google search came up and I am so thankful. We are doing this in two weeks so I think I have enough time to get shirts there’s only 12 so it shouldn’t be too crazy I hope thank you so much for posting I really appreciate it

  6. We were kind of famous for our scavenger hunts when raising our children. Recently our precious special needs grandson passed away. As a memorial to him on his birthday we are planning a scavenger hunt in our neighborhood. The list will contain all his favorite foods, books he loved, music he loved and brands of clothes he wore etc. We are having fun planning this, and makes a difficult day more bearable. We will present the 2nd Annual Christopher Brandon Trophy. The winner gets it all year and will give it up the following year. Oh yeah, and a $50 grand prize. Have to make it worth their while!!!!

  7. We did a photo scavenger hunt at my daughter’s Sweet 16 Birthday Party. I was afraid I would be too busy to take pictures so I thought this would be a great way to get the photos I wanted. For the most part, it worked really good!
    Take a picture of:

    o Your favorite decoration at the party
    o Someone younger than you
    o Someone who can cross their eyes
    o Someone older than you
    o Someone with blue eyes
    o Someone laughing
    o Someone texting
    o Someone in a funny pose
    o Someone making a funny face
    o A selfie with the Birthday Girl
    o The Birthday Girl opening her presents
    o Your favorite food at the party
    o A group of three or more talking
    o Someone eating a piece of cake
    o Someone drinking punch
    o Someone taking a picture of someone
    o Someone taking a selfie
    o The birthday girl in your favorite pose
    o A photo taken at an angle
    o A group of two or more people posing in the Photo Props area
    o A coin with Lizzie’s Birthday year on it taken in an unexpected place.
    o A picture with someone wearing accessories in black, red, or white.

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