"The best hunts allow for teams or small groups to get to know one another as they get to know their church home. These hunts ask for more than a one-word answer about different roles people perform and objects of meaning."
Can a Party Game be Educational?
A scavenger hunt is a party game in which the organizers create a list of particular items to find. Seekers, in groups or individually, race to find the most items. Some scavenger hunts require photographic "proof" and others ask for descriptions or answers to clues.
Using a scavenger hunt for formation has some benefits over traditional classroom teaching.
- Scavenger hunts provide hands-on learning, putting abstract words or concepts into items (or people) in your church.
- Scavenger hunts get people of all ages up and moving around. Yes, this is fun (and maybe offers a little exercise), but more importantly, changing physical perspective helps us look at things differently. Seeing an item in use helps cement its meaning and purpose.
- Scavenger hunts are teamwork in action. Working together promotes meaningful social interaction, providing a way for children and youth to work together.
- With a hunt or two at the ready, you'll always have something to fill in when you need a fun activity.
What's in a (Good) Scavenger Hunt?
The best hunts allow for teams or small groups to get to know one another as they get to know their church home. These hunts ask for more than a one-word answer about different roles people perform and objects of meaning. If you are handing off responsibility for your hunt, make sure you provide an answer key!
Prompts might be given to find scripture, hymns, or frequently used objects. Seekers might also be asked to talk to people in different ministries, making this activity intergenerational as well as informative!
Scavenger hunts can be tailored to your congregation. Many churches use art dedicated to a patron saint or in keeping with their name - how many variations can be found? Similarly, major liturgical feasts can also lead to hunt questions, such as symbols of the Trinity on Trinity Sunday. The idea of a scavenger hunt can even be adapted to weekly use, such as these children's bulletins.
As you look for things to hunt for, look around your church. What are symbols of your congregation? What are the symbols of your faith? Who does the work of ministry in your congregation? What are the signs of those ministries?
About Photos and Phones
Not all scavenger hunts require photos. Replace "photo" in a hunt with a signature if you are finding a person or with a quick sketch. If you are working with very young children, you can leave a stamp at each location and they can collect a stamp for each find. Sometimes selfies work in your favor -- consider grouping younger children with older, phone-toting teens. If your group is teen and older, create a tag and ask your seekers to post their finds to Instagram or your church Facebook page. As always when using photographs, make sure you have permission from parents before children's photos are shared.
This post was created with scavenger hunts from Mary Lynn Coulson, Assistant Rector at St. Bartholomew's, Poway CA; Kristin Saylor, Director of Adult Education at Grace Cathedral, San Francisco; and Jerusalem Greer, Minister to Children, Youth & Families at St. Peter's, Conway, AK. We welcome you to use and adapt the scavenger hunts they have created, but please use proper attribution!