May 24 is National Scavenger Hunt Day, marking the annual celebration of hunting for a list of items, or solving a series of clues to “win” the game. Whether you’re planning a scavenger hunt for random items with your friends across a new town you just moved to, or a scavenger hunt for your kids in your backyard, both the planner and the players are likely to have a great time. Did you know scavenger hunts can be educational?
History of National Scavenger Hunt Day
Though no one knows the true origin of the first scavenger hunts, which evolved from folk games, Elsa Maxwell has been credited with the creation and popularization of the scavenger hunt in the 1930’s. Elsa Maxwell, an American author, gossip columnist, actress, songwriter, screenwriter, and radio personality who was dubbed “hostess with the mostest”, had an affinity for throwing luxurious and entertaining parties for celebrities, political figures, and New York’s elite. She often organized scavenger hunts for the guests, that involved roaming around town, seeking objects from a list. Players were not allowed to buy the objects, but rather, beg, barter, or work for them. Sometimes, the scavenger hunts included riddles, or ‘clues’, on each item, increasing the game’s difficulty. The team with the most items, or the first to complete the list, won.
It’s a popular game today, especially for children, around holidays like Easter, Christmas, Halloween, or birthday parties. Adults could set up an elaborate maze of clues and items for their children to find, that would keep their children busy for hours. At some Universities, fraternities or sororities may even include a scavenger hunt as a series of challenges for their potential new members, or ‘pledges’. The games are a great way to encourage healthy competition, discover new places, promote exercise, and stoke the imagination of all parties involved. Scavenger games could entertain adults and children alike. The games are entertaining to whoever can open their minds, and tap into their childlike sense of play and wonder.