When I was a senior in high school, a friend who was turning 18 decided to have a video scavenger hunt for his birthday. Using a clunky ’90s over-the-shoulder video camera, our team had to collect videos of ourselves doing (mostly embarrassing) activities. All I can say is it’s a good thing Facebook wasn’t around back then, because there would definitely be some compromising footage of me running into an IHOP and screaming “I hop! I hop!” while jumping up and down and pounding my fists like a hysterical zoo animal.
The years have gone by, and despite the mortifying experience described above, I have continued to enjoy scavenger hunts, both traditional ones and those that involve video or photos. They have just the right blend of competition and discomfort that makes for adventure. On a mission trip in college, my roommate and I sent our friends on a rhyming clue hunt around Bergen, Norway. Then, when my kids were little, some friends and I got together for a stroller derby mall scavenger hunt. It was breakneck. Babies were hanging on to their stroller sippy cup trays for dear life and toddlers buried their faces in their blankies from the blaze of their mommies’ glory. Just kidding, it was pretty tame and ended with Orange Juliuses in the food court.
This summer, now that my kids are older and can get in on the fun, we recently invited several friends to join us for another mall scavenger hunt that both moms and kids of various ages could participate in. It combined some elements of a traditional scavenger hunt, like acquiring a ketchup packet or napkin from a specific restaurant, and photo items (since most people has a phone with a camera these days), like getting a picture of your team member/s dancing with a mannequin.
Overall, it was a great choice for an indoor activity when it was blazing hot out, and would also make a fun birthday party, couples’ night out, or youth group activity.
Here’s a free printable of a list of 15 items to find at any mall to use for your own scavenger hunt! Certain details have been left blank for you to customize the hunt to the mall you’re visiting.
Tips for a Successful Mall Scavenger Hunt:
- For this particular hunt, I would recommend taking about 45 minutes. We had an hour and it was a little too leisurely.
- You will need a digital camera/phone. Be sure to remind participants to bring theirs!
- To start, meet at a designated point and go over rules, end time, and final meeting place.
- Break into teams of approximately equal size.
- Teams must stay together the entire duration of the hunt.
- No running (unless you want to face the wrath of the mall cop).
- Phones can be used only for photos. No internet usage allowed during the hunt.
- To add a competitive edge, establish a prize for the winning team! Maybe the losing teams chip in to buy the winners a treat at the food court, or you could provide mall gift cards for the winners. Maybe you even bring dollar store tiaras and crowns to dub the winners King/Queen of the Mall. Go nuts. The sillier, the better.
So go enjoy your very own mall scavenger hunt, and let me know how it goes! You might just be surprised by some of the things you find–like these red pumps. What do you think, should I have bought them?