Just what is a scavenger hunt, anyway!? Scavenger hunts have been around for quite some time and are rumored to have evolved over the years from ancient folk games. Although it’s virtually impossible to determine precisely who invented the first scavenger hunt, Elsa Maxwell, the renowned Hollywood gossip columnist and hostess, is often credited with bringing the game to the masses in the early 1930s.
Today, scavenger hunts are enjoyed by people from all over the world and are used as a source of entertainment to mark a number of occasions – but what exactly is a scavenger hunt? And how do they differ from the ever-popular treasure hunt? Let’s take a look.
A scavenger hunt vs a treasure hunt
A scavenger hunt is a game in which players, playing as either individuals or as a team, compete against one another to see who can find and retrieve as many items from a predetermined list as possible. Although this may sound easy at first, the people who organize scavenger hunts often place very obscure items on the list to challenge participants and encourage friendly competition.
The ultimate winner of the game is determined by whoever finds all of the items on their list first, or who has found the most things in a given time period. Some scavenger hunts also involve a points’ system, in which items that are harder to find are allocated more points – this also brings a strategic element into the game wherein players can choose to prioritize more challenging things to earn more points if they’re short on time.
How does a scavenger hunt differ from a treasure hunt?
Although the terms scavenger hunt and treasure hunt are sometimes used interchangeably, they do, in fact, differ from one another and are two separate games.
Unlike a scavenger hunt, in which participants are handed a list of items to find, a treasure hunt involves solving a series of cryptic clues to find the end ‘treasure’. These cryptic clues could be a riddle, a rhyme, or merely clever wordplay. Whatever they may be, once solved the clues will direct the player to a specific location where they may find either another clue or – if they have solved all of the riddles – then they will find the treasure.
Another critical difference between a treasure hunt and a scavenger hunt is that a treasure hunt can be either sequential or non-sequential. A sequential treasure hunt is one in which the participant must solve the first clue to find the second clue’s location, and so forth until they find the treasure. A non-sequential treasure hunt, on the other hand, means that participants can find clues in any order. In some cases, participants are even given all of the clues upfront and earn points for every clue they solve.
The pros of a scavenger hunt
Easy to organize
If you’re short on time, then a scavenger hunt can be organized much more quickly than a treasure hunt as it only involves making a list of items – leaving the players to do the hard work. Conversely, a well thought out treasure hunt often involves some serious mind-power before and during the game, and you will also need to visit all of the clue locations if you have planned the game in a sequential format.
Scavenger hunts are very action orientated, in that from the get-go, individuals will be running around trying to find their items against the clock. With little downtime and no need for serious thinking, they’re great for those who easily get bored.
Simple to understand
Unlike treasure hunts, which require brain-power to decipher their clues, a scavenger hunt is easy to understand and can be played by anyone regardless of their age or experience.
The pros of a treasure hunt
For those who are more mind-orientated rather than action-fueled, a treasure hunt provides plenty of thinking time and a deep sense of satisfaction when participants reach their ‘eureka!’ moment and find the answer to a clue.
Great for team building
Although scavenger hunts are also a fun team building activity, they require less team effort than a treasure hunt. If you are looking to see a team dynamic in action, then a treasure hunt is often more challenging and requires more team spirit.
There you have it – a quick introduction to scavenger hunts, what they are, and how they differ from their sister game, the treasure hunt. Have you ever been on a scavenger hunt before? Do you prefer scavenger hunts to treasure hunts? Let us know your thoughts in the comments! And don’t forget to check out the rest of our blog for more treasure hunting fun!