How To: Organize a Citywide Scavenger Hunt

by Cynthia Ord Nov 10, 2010
scavenger hunt handstand

Photo by Team Cabeza

5. Milk social media

Use online communities and social networks to publicise the event. Facebook and CouchSurfing are the obvious places to start. Adjust the privacy settings based on how big and how public you want the event to be. I say inclusiveness is a part of 21st century fun, so the more the merrier.

Make administration easier by opening a gmail account for people to officially sign up through, so they can confirm their attendance, and you can anticipate your turnout more accurately. Post a series of quick, informative messages and send a reminder or two as the event draws near.

Add details to the scavenger hunt that will stimulate creativity and spontaneity.
6. Cover your costs

A good citywide event requires not just an investment of your time, but possibly some money too – especially if you want to offer a prize, advertise the event, and print clue materials. Event planning is a real art, and a profit-minded person could no doubt think of a business model for citywide scavenger hunts, but it will be more enjoyable if you do it just for fun.

That said, there are ways to offset the small costs you may incur. Feature your favorite local business as one of the clues. Tell them in advance you’ll be directing traffic to their place, and ask if they’ll donate a prize in exchange. Or, make it a pool: participants pay an entry fee or place a small bet, which is then pooled as the prize for the winners, minus your admin costs.

7. Have fun and make it a party
scavenger hunt roundabout

Photo by Team Cabeza

Make a scene! Notify the press about the event and try to make local headlines. Add details to the scavenger hunt that will stimulate creativity and spontaneity.

Surprise participants with props and costumes they will need to use. We had clues of different difficulty, and awarded extra points for humor, improvisation and use of props, as well as for precision.

Make sure the event ends with time and a space for debriefing. People will want to share and compare notes about what they just did.

8. Declare some winners and follow up

If your participants submit their clue findings as photos, then you may need to upload them. And if you’ve created an elaborate points system, the judging process may take some time too. Ideally this will happen at the party directly after the event. But, if you’d rather relax and enjoy the gathering, save the task for later and declare the winners online.

Upload each team’s photo findings in an album on Picasa using the gmail account you created for the event, and share the albums in a gallery for everyone who took part. If you haven’t yet judged the results, you could award points in the caption fields.

Go back to the social networks where you publicized the event, and post links to the gallery. People love it, and this link might well be the biggest prize of all – but one shared by everyone!

Seriously – what did people do for fun in the pre-digital age?


Have you ever organized a citywide scavenger hunt, a flash mob, or any other form of 21st Century hybrid fun? Share your experiences, tips and stories in the comments below.

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