Ideas for Outdoor Scavenger Hunt Clues

By Susan MacDowell

An outdoor scavenger hunt can be a game at a party, a family activity or part of a scout or youth group meeting. If participants are leaving a supervised area, such as a back yard, the scavenger hunt should be organized in teams, so no one is roaming around alone. The outdoor scavenger hunt clues can be simple or complex, depending on the age of the participants. If you prefer not to write the clues in plain text, you can use poetry, riddles, pictures or directions to indicate what objects the participants should bring back.


Provide scavenger hunt clues using poetry, rather than just written out in text. The poem can be an original composition, or you can use snippets from classic poems. For example, you could use the first verse of Frances Ellen Watkins' "Dandelions" ("Welcome children of the Spring, In your garbs of green and gold, Lifting up your sun-crowned heads,...") to indicate that the hunters should bring back a flower.


Scavenger hunt clues can be phrased in riddles. For example, if you are doing a campsite scavenger hunt and you want people to bring back a picture of the shower in the bathhouse, you could phrase the clue as "People take me, but after they take me, I'm left where I was." The complexity of the riddles should be matched to the age of the participants, keeping things simple for young hunters.


If you are organizing a scavenger hunt for players who are too young too read, you can use pictures as clues. The pictures can be photos of the actual items you want them to find or can be photos of similar items you printed from the Internet or clipped from a magazine. If your hunters are older, you can increase the complexity by making the clue a picture of part of the item, rather than the whole object.

Compass Points

With a compass scavenger hunt, the clues don't describe the object being searched for; they describe the location of the object. Each clue should contain a compass direction and the number of feet to walk in that direction. For example, a clue would be written as "ESE 10 feet." The path to the object can change directions to make the hunt more challenging, by phrasing the clue as "ESE 10 feet, N 15 feet."

About the Author

Susan MacDowell is a freelance writer from New England. She is a CPA by training, but has many additional interests, including history, baseball, cooking, and travel. She's a native of New York, who now lives in Massachusetts and Maine.