A Family That Plays Together Stays Together


The lost treasure of my childhood.

Most of my best memories growing up all took place outdoors. Playing with my friends, collecting fall leaves with my sister and mother, building tree forts, hunting with my father, and getting so dirty that I was not allowed to come in the house until I hosed off. One of my greatest memories is a particular camping trip that I took with my family and my best friend to Higgins Lake in Northern Michigan. That summer we nearly camp for a month straight. My mother always was our "events coordinator" and did an amazing job keeping us kids busy and entertained, which is no small task. Games, crafts, stories, hikes, swimming, scavenger hunts, walks, boating, and sing alongs were all mainstays in our camping trips. But this particular year we added "The Treasure Hunt!" 

The idea of a good treasure hunt is easy. A series of hidden clues that must be found in order. The first clue leading you to the second and so on. At the end was a prize or treasure that was normally something simple like candy or small toys. 

The set up.

1. First break into two teams, we always did boys verses girls. This made buying the treasure easier. 

2. Separately the teams go out and buy the treasure. It is always better when nether team knows what they are hunting for. This can be done before the camping trip just make sure you keep it secret. 

3. I recommend if you are camping for a few days that you wait to do a treasure hunt later in the trip. This will give you time to see fun and memorable things in the park or campground with the entire family that way when you reference something like "cross an old bridge" everyone will know that there is an old bridge and where it is located. 

4. You will need paper and pins to write your clues, Index cards work great. Also ziplock bags to keep stuff safe, dry, and bug free.

Day of the hunt. 

1. The two teams go there separate ways after a great fireside breakfast. With backpacks containing your treasure, paper, pin, ziplock bags, compass if you choose and what ever else you think you might need. Pick a time to meet back at your campsite, lunch is always good.

2.  Far from the other team head to the spot you want to hide your treasure. As a hider you will need to work backwards from the final treasure. Find a safe and secure place to hide your treasure. Could be under a footbridge or in an old tree. Always be aware of people watching you hide it if they see you they may take it for them selves.

3. Now your treasure is hidden. From this spot look around and think of a clue to get them here. Remember you are writing clues not directions, you want them to think about it, so don't say "it's under the bridge" say  " beware of the trolls that protect this crossing" or something like that... 

4. Once you feel that you have a good clue that the other team can understand, go hide that clue somewhere. And then repeat. I have found that the number of clues you hide is all depending on how long you think it will take to find each one and how far you place them apart. I have placed 5 clues within 10 feet of each other or two clues a mile apart. 

5. Back at the site the two teams eat lunch and exchange your first clue. After lunch the teams again go there separate ways this time you have your opposing teams clue in hand. This clue will lead you to a hidden clue and that clue will lead you to the next...

6. Once you have found the treasure go back to the campsite and wait for the other team with your prize in hand! 

This is a great way to spend a day in the campground! It gets everyone up and outdoors. Also it gets you thinking. 


Here are some fun ways to switch it up! 

1. Get a small treasure chest with a lock and key to put your treasure in. Have them find the treasure chest and then give them a clue to find the key somewhere at the campsite. That way they open the chest in front of everyone. 

2. Hide a clue underwater. Get a small waterproof container with a clip or string, even an empty water bottle with a piece of string will work. Go to the swimming area of the campground and swim down and attach the container to the swimming area marker chain, or under a dock. Make sure you give good clues so they know they will be swimming.

3. Camp store. We have included money in a clue that sent the finder to the camp store. They were told to buy the clue from the clerk, the clerk then gave them a bag of candy with the clue attached. As a hider you just need to tell the clerk what you are doing, they always love to be in on it! 

4. Sing a song. Direct you finders to the Rangers station and have them sing for there clue. As a hider tell the Rangers about your treasure hunt and that a group will come in and sing them a song only then can they have the clue. Everyone loves I'm a Little Teapot! 

5. No girls allowed. If your teams are boys vs girls this is a fun one. As a boy hider, hide a clue in the boys bathroom, so the girls will need to find a boy volunteer to go in and find it for them. Campers are always happy to help! 

These are just a few ideas that we have done in the past, be creative and have fun with it! If you have any ideas let us know!