I’ve undertaken many wild, and ambitious, schemes in my thirty years but none quite so complex as the Amazing Race scavenger hunt I recently organised for the light of my life, my affianced, this January.
This scavenger hunt was in person because where I live there is currently low risk of COVID (there is no COVID in the community), but this could easily be done online or over zoom with friends.
This scavenger hunt lasted for about six hours but it could be longer or quicker depending on your needs.
I designed everything myself based on Google research and a basic understanding of iconography.
There are free downloads at the bottom of this in case you want to try as well.
It was a birthday. I love puzzles. Who doesn’t love to play games. Enough said.
How We Did It
In the Winter of his thirty-first year of his life, my affianced verbalised a desire to go on a scavenger hunt for his birthday. I thought this was
an interesting project to undertake
We commenced almost immediately one quiet Sunday afternoon. Immediately, I took to research. This is because, rather hilariously, I have never actually watched a full episode of The Amazing Race.
From what I gathered on Google, and my limited brief glances at the show, I came to understand there were a lot of envelopes and cards involved, challenges, and that it was a race.
We wanted to localise what we were doing so we set about making clues for locations near us. It took a while but we decided there should be:
Two teams, each with a games master to limit anything going wrong
A start location that is different for each team
Clues for all locations (in four sets)
Puzzles at each location
The presence of two teams wasn’t strictly necessary, we just wanted to add an element of competition while allowing people to talk. This could be undertaken with infinite teams.
Making the clues
We decided that the puzzle element would be two fold: clues for locations and then puzzles and activities at these locations. We had four sets of locations, each with their own clues, and from those you could choose three, four, or all to go to. We made some locations mandatory.
We had two types of locations
Detour: a challenge or puzzle everyone must complete
Roadblock: a harder challenge but it only required one or two people to do it
Each location went a little like this:
Location clue (instead of a place, for COVID-safe parties this could be a clue that leads you to a website)
Picture of team at location (COVID-safe version = screenshot of time and website open in browser)
Get a drink
Puzzle or challenge issued (COVID-safe version = team emailed their first challenge or puzzle)
Once completed, the team would go to the next location and so on.
Each team also had
three clue cards
one pit-stop card (to skip a challenge or puzzle)
three water cards each with six stamps (18 water stops), although non-drinkers were welcome and allowed to declare themselves at the start of the race
one team update card (learn the other team’s progress)
Each puzzle was either an emoji riddle, a blanked out wikipedia article (guess the word) or a rebus puzzle. Not super hard to make but fun to solve. Because this was an adult scavenger hunt, some of the challenges involved alcohol.
Some locations had ‘no passing place’ symbols on them meaning you could not use your pit-stop to skip.
the race commences
Once we had the logic of the puzzles and locations ready to go, we placed everything in envelopes and numbered them so we knew when to give people which envelopes.
We also packed backpacks for the trip as we were both games masters and, essentially, designated sober friends. In those backpacks we packed:
All the clues
Notes for ourselves
First aid and other super responsible stuff
Sunscreen and hats
We asked everyone to meet us at a pre-determined placed to discuss the rules and determine teams.
We knew we had around six hours to visit at least sixteen locations, giving us a maximum of 23 minutes for each location. We agreed to watch the time, and speed things up where necessary if things were starting to take a long time.
A wild success!
We ran ahead of schedule for most of the day, which was good because it was a tight schedule. We had a mix of those drinking, non drinkers and pregnant friends taking part. The level of the challenges and type of challenges worked for everyone.
We finished the race at home. Really, we could have done with three less locations as people were pretty distracted (it’d been a long day).
The snacks we brought for the day were great for the teams as there really wasn’t time to buy food.
At the end of the race we all had pizza to celebrate.
Amazing race adult SCAVENGER hunt Printables
Not everyone is so lucky to be able to be out and about in-person so I have blanked the cards so that you can add your own COVID-safe locations (whether that is at home with family around the house or across the internet virtually). You can download them for free below.