Team building is not an Accident!
When you think of a scavenger hunt, you might think of a childhood game or relate it to the reality TV show, The Amazing Race. Whatever your thoughts about a scavenger hunt, they are becoming increasingly popular as a corporate team building activity. Unlike rock climbing, rope courses, or a golf outing, a Scavenger Hunt is something that everyone in your group or office can participate in.
What is a Scavenger Hunt?
When you design a scavenger hunt, you will find that you have to overcome one major objection from the limo company: the possibility of items being stolen. In some of our scavenger hunts, the local police would be awaiting the teams at the end to collect the bar stools, shot glasses and other unique items collected along the way. This is what inspired the use of instant photography. Polaroid’s eventual demise has been an inspiration for the use of digital camera and GPS hunts in today’s scavenger hunts.
A typical scavenger hunt is custom-written not only to the city that it is in, but to the group that books the event. A scavenger list, whether the game is played by foot or by limo, is created with 100+ items, each worth a certain point value, and given to the teams right before the event. Teams work together to determine whether to go after all the harder items worth more points or the easier items in the time allowed. The team with the most points at the end wins. There are team challenges that allow the team to conserve their resources and create a team name and limerick as well as items to bring back and trivia questions to answer along the way.
Sample photo opportunities for scavenger hunts include:
- Your team in the luggage compartment of a motor coach
- Underneath a giant steaming tea kettle
- A picture of the doorman at the Ritz on your shoulders
- Kissing the cheek of a waitress at Durgin Park
When the teams return for lunch, dinner or cocktails, the facilitators tally the points and present the photos with a comedic wrap-up and prizes. The group gets to keep all the photos to post on the company website or on the wall of the employee cafeteria. The photos allow your group to relive the camaraderie and share the experience over and over.
Disguised as fun, scavenger and treasure hunts build your team in many ways:
- Teamwork is fostered through friendly competition
- Decision making as a team
- Confidence and trust building in a safe learning environment
- Staff become more aware of themselves, their teammates and the external environment
- Leadership, problem solving, planning and communication skills are tested and developed
The Treasure Hunt Difference
Often, groups are looking for non-competitive events. This is where a treasure hunt really fills the need. Based on the Scandinavian (and new Olympic) sport of orienteering, where individuals use a detailed map to find flags on the forest, the treasure hunt is driven by a custom-made map. The object of a treasure hunt is to find the key to a treasure-filled chest. The key, which is hidden somewhere on the property (a resort, conference center or a Boston Harbor Island), can only be found by locating clues that are circled on their maps, such as a tree, a column, a statue, etc.
Groups are divided into heterogeneous sub-groups, each of whom has its own set of clues to find. The group soon realizes that the only way to accomplish this goal is to work together. Some clues can only be acquired when the group completes a challenge — a fun test of the team’s mettle. In turn, each sub-group’s immediate goal is assembling their part of the riddle. When assembled, these clues will reveal a final riddle. All sub-groups must work together in the final stage to find the key. The excitement builds as the entire group seeks out the key. Since all contributed to the search, all get a share of the treasure, which can be a token or memento of the seminar, often a T-shirt emblazoned with the current slogan of the team or conference. Everyone wins with a treasure hunt.
So, if your team needs a fresh approach during its next seminar or retreat, try the problem-solving and group-interactive Scavenger or Treasure Hunt.
David Goldstein is the founder of Teambonding.com, a team building and training company that uses play as its most powerful learning tool.
— David Goldstein