Now, Forager

Scavenger-hunt ideas.

Illustration by Leanna

It is very easy to feel like your town is the most boring place on earth when you’re stuck there all summer, but you can find ways to make it fun. One of the quickest, easiest ways to do that is with a scavenger hunt. For those of you uninitiated in the ways of the scavenger hunt, it’s basically a list of things you’re trying to find, and the first group or person to find all of the stuff wins! I’ve put together a scavenger hunt that will keep you busy for a few hours, and maybe help you see your town in a new light.

The rules are pretty loose; you can play with a couple of people, or large groups of people. It’s more fun when you’re working with others, so try to at least get enough people together to pair off. You can set your own time limits and places to rendezvous. Since Rookie cares about you, there are some golden rules you need to follow to keep yourself safe.

Golden Rules:

  1. This is a daytime activity. You should be using safe spaces that you are comfortable with, and always work in a group.
  2. There should be no property damage involved here. Be courteous of flower beds, shelved products, and the like. We don’t want you getting in trouble with neighbors/parents/police.
  3. Don’t be annoying to sales clerks or businesspeople. If you’re going to use stores for any of these activities, be respectful of the space and people working. Don’t run through the stores loudly or with wild abandon, and always clean up after yourself if you’re making any sort of mess.
  4. Don’t follow a stranger anywhere, don’t get in a stranger’s car, and don’t even TALK to a stranger unless you’re in public with a lot of people around. A lot of these prompts ask you to not use someone in your group, but that doesn’t mean we want you throwing yourselves into vans or accosting anyone in your path. Parents, teachers, neighbors, other friends—these are all good choices.

Materials needed:

  • Some kind of camera and/or video camera.
  • Up to $15.
  • Glue (optional).
  • Glitter (optional).
  • Friends, or people you don’t mind hanging out with.
  • A couple of hours on a nice day.

Here we go!! Collect everything on this list, and note that there are different point values for your different finds. (You’ll have to figure out how to prove that you’ve done each step, but photos and videos generally come in handy.)

1. Graveyards Are Not Just for Goths
Take a picture of the oldest headstone you can find. (+2 points for the oldest one, +1 point for second-oldest)

Bonus points: Find a headstone of someone that was born and died on the same day or who shares a birthday with someone in your group. (+5 points each)

2. Impromptu Karaoke
Get your video camera ready for this one. Before you get started, have everyone agree on one song that all groups will use. Your job is to go up to someone—a sibling, a neighbor, that cute skater you’ve been eyeing for months—and sing the first few words or lines of a song, then signal them to finish the song. Try to pick something fun like “Call Me Maybe,” or try to get your dad to finish singing “Super Bass,” for maximum hilarity. Videotape it for proof! (+3 points)

Bonus points: The person you pick can finish the entire song. (+5 points)

3. The One With the Titles
Before you split up, everyone should agree upon and write down one completely absurd phrase, something like “Macrame Honey Explosions in Subterranean Malta Cheese Zones.” Your job as a team is to create this phrase one word at a time. Take a picture of each word as you find it, and get creative—utilize bookstores, grocery stores, thrift stores, buildings directories, bottle labels, etc. (+4 points)

4. Dogs!
People love walking their dogs in the summer, so you’ll see them out and about all the time. Your mission is to take five pictures of five different dogs. If you’re not a fan of dogs, you can choose another animal, but know that we could never be friends. You don’t have to interact with them if you’re afraid or allergic, so keep your distance and use the zoom if necessary. (If you’re taking the picture at point-blank range, ask the owner’s permission first!) (+1 point for each dog picture)

Bonus points: You get a picture of all five dogs together. (+7 points)

More bonus points: Take a picture of someone in your group kissing a pug. (+10 points)

5. Stuck in the Middle
Take a picture of someone in your group in two places at once (e.g., standing on the border between two towns, inside and outside at once, half in the rain and half out of it, etc.). (+3 points)

Bonus points: Take a picture of someone in three places at once. (+7 points)

6. Thrift Store Extravaganza
Rookies love thrift stores (aka jumble sales, charity shops, hospice shops resale shops, op shops, etc.), and for a good reason—they’re cheap and fun. Your mission in this step is to go into a thrift store with your group, pick out and buy the worst outfit you can find for $10, and assign it to a member of another team to wear all day! (+7 points)

7. I Love That Scene!
We all have favorite movie moments. I could probably recite every line of Heathers from beginning to end. Your mission is to utilize your group to re-create a favorite movie moment, on film. (+3 points)

Bonus points: You choose a musical. (Just because they are more fun, and the chances for hilarity increase tenfold.) (+5 points)

8. Made-Up Languages
This one is pretty self-explanatory. Your mission is to make up a language, and try to ask someone for directions in that language. You need to be convincing, so try not to giggle too much. (+2 points)

Bonus points: It actually works. (+5 points)

9. Charades
We’re combining games here a little bit, but this one is fun. Your mission is to get someone who isn’t in your group to guess what you’re miming. (+3 points)

Bonus points: You find a way to act the Wells Tower book title Everything Ravaged, Everything Burned. (+10 points)

10. Drink the Grossest Thing
Most restaurants have free condiments available. Ask for or buy a cup half-filled with water, and then start pouring. Dump in ketchup, pepper, mustard, EVERYTHING FREE AND AVAILABLE TO YOU, and then make someone in your group drink it while you capture it on film. (You can also do this at someone’s house—more ingredients options.) (+5 points)

Bonus points: The drinker doesn’t puke…or does. (+5 points)

11. Gaslighting
“Gaslighting,” named for a play and then film starring Ingrid Bergman, is when you try to make someone doubt their own memory by changing something ever so slightly, so naturally we’re going to ask you to use someone’s parents/guardian for this one. Move something in the house ever so slightly—switch the contents of two cabinets in the kitchen, move a table from one side of the room to the other—and wait for a reaction. (+8 points, labor intensive)

Bonus points: You move all the inside furniture outside, and vice versa. (+15 points)

Extra bonus points: You videotape a reaction when your parents/victims are visibly confused. (+3 points)

12. Open Letter
Go into a public library and write a letter to the EFFING WORLD and slip it into a random page of a Nicholas Sparks novel or The Da Vinci Code. (+3 points)

13. Roses Are Red
Pick a tiny bunch of flowers from the side of the road (not from private property, you hooligans) and give it to the next cute girl or boy you see. (+5 points)

14. Art Appreciation
Spot three graffiti tags on the highway (or the street/sidewalk/whatever) by the same artist. (+5 points)

Feel free to add your own activities! You know your town better than anyone, so use your knowledge to make this as fun as possible. ♦

Special thanks to Amy Rose, Tavi, Jenny, and Pixie for contributing ideas.


  • La Fille June 18th, 2012 11:05 PM

    This sounds fun! I really want to get a group of friends together and try it sometime. :)

  • Tyknos93 June 18th, 2012 11:06 PM

    Oh yes. I am so ready for this.

  • katrinaexplainsitall June 18th, 2012 11:13 PM

    Oh my god all of these sound so fun! I’ve done impromptu karaoke before (Call Me Maybe is the best choice, I think). I’d love to do I Love That Scene! Now I just need to find friends to do all this with n_n

  • Maddy June 18th, 2012 11:34 PM

    the “drink the grossest thing” sounds like nacho day in elementary school. it all goes in the milk carton…

  • EveyMarrie June 18th, 2012 11:34 PM

    Holy. Freaking. Crap.

    I’ve been trying to come up with a scavenger hunt FOREVER and I wasn’t able to think of too many things for it (I live in the middle of nowhere >>), but now I have a pretty rad outline on where to begin :D

    *bows down* You are a God among Rookies<3

  • kittenmix June 19th, 2012 12:33 AM

    This seems really cool but maybe the graveyard thing is a bit disrespectful

  • SpencerBowie June 19th, 2012 12:53 AM

    I am so showing this to Album Club on Thursday!

    Thanks for the fun ideas!!!


  • dogsrule June 19th, 2012 2:11 AM

    it’s so weird seeing such a relatively innocent scavenger hunt after just experiencing senior scavenger hunt. my school gets really intense about it and the list is really terrible and demeaning, but also kind of great?

    like, from eating a stick of butter to getting a penis tattoo. someone even made a porno this year.

    the class officers organize the whole thing and watch all of the videos and determine a winning group. the only golden rule is don’t get arrested. weird stuff

  • I.ila June 19th, 2012 2:12 AM

    I don’t know how well this would work in NYC… Another thing to do at the rookie meeting!

  • MMP June 19th, 2012 2:19 AM

    Best Scavenger Hunt ever was for my friends birthday, we all had to dress up and go to Fisherman’s Warf (in San Francisco), some hunt ideas were:
    Find a tourist from Alaska (flippin impossible)
    Go tell the vendor at the Psuedo-Irish shop that you saw a leprechaun outside
    Have a fight with the wooden pirates outside of a souvenier shop
    Draw someone’s picture while they are having their characature done (and give it to them)
    Sing “you are my sunshine” to a tourist in line for a trolley.

    I did all of this while dressed like a pirate.

  • Elizabete June 19th, 2012 2:22 AM

    This sounds awesome! Only if i had any friends to do this with…
    +1 for you for kissing pug thingie! My pug is open to kisses all day long :D

  • mayaautumn June 19th, 2012 2:30 AM

    hahah:) all sounds brill! it’s really prompt though, because just yesterday i was saying i wanted to move house because i like CHANGE and in the summer it would so much more fun to be somewhere different…
    most people like a routine, but i love change

  • esthersilk June 19th, 2012 2:41 AM

    These are great ideas!

  • Ben June 19th, 2012 2:42 AM

    On the second to last day of school this year, my class (because we where graduating from middleschool) went on a scavenger hunt and it was really fun! We went all over and washed a stranger’s can and made someone dance and kissed a pig grill and found a purple house! It was so fun! These seem like really good scavenger hunt things! I like how they aren’t just like finding things and all the bonus things you can do too!

  • celerysundae June 19th, 2012 4:05 AM

    Omfg rookie! I have been talking about doing this for the past month with my friends! Thanks for the great ideas!!

  • HollieLillian June 19th, 2012 7:50 AM

    This weekend I’m having a giant tie dye/picnic/food gathering party in a field for my birthday party, it would be super cool to do some of these too!

  • Moxx June 19th, 2012 9:29 AM

    Aaaaaaa number 12! I do that all the time!
    I like leaving secret messages in places because I think of how cool it would be if I were to find one.

    • Moxx June 19th, 2012 9:37 AM

      And number 13! (I didn’t finish reading the article before writing my comment before- bad habit)
      Except what I do is I have a block of post-its where I marked “This is for no reason at all other than to say that you are extremely attractive. Have a nice day.” on every single page.
      When I see someone beautiful, I give them one (folded 300 times so that it takes them long to open it) and run away. I have to be extra courageous that day, though.
      But again, I love doing this sort of thing because I think it’s just a nice thing to do and it would be something I would find nice if someone did it to me. Just why not, right? Plus if they think you’re dumb you’ll probably never see them again anyway, and if they’re mean or something you’ll never know. Perfect love.
      ~feelings of free love or something right now~

      • Hannnah June 19th, 2012 12:34 PM

        I found a booklet about Jesus’ love in a library copy of Jeanette Winterson’s “Written on the Body” the other day! It’s a little booklet with slightly scary Bible quotes about why I should turn to God and what will happen if not. But still, the illustrations are good and I was really pleased with myself that I’d found something in a book – I didn’t realise until I got home! Maybe one day I’ll find something with a bit more um, pzazz!

  • stroll-n-skate June 19th, 2012 10:26 AM

    I love the Bette Davis reference in the title of this piece! Very clever :)

  • NotReallyChristian June 19th, 2012 10:40 AM

    Or try the mother of all scavenger-hunts:

    15 points for Professor Trelawney but only 10 for Professor Sprout??

    • Hannnah June 19th, 2012 12:24 PM

      woah, hello, Cambridge has its own SCAVENGER HUNT SOCIETY??

  • Hannnah June 19th, 2012 12:23 PM

    I really love that illustration, Leanna! It’s my desktop background, so lovely!

  • christinachristina June 19th, 2012 1:29 PM

    i love scavenger hunts. i had a bike scavenger hunt for my 23rd birthday a couple of years ago, and everyone had a blast! i like assigning points to certain items. look, i still have the list!

  • RhiaSnape June 19th, 2012 4:46 PM

    This sounds so good! I’ve been trying to think of birthday party ideas since April – my birthday was on the 18th – and now I’ve got something. wooo go rookie

  • Eleonore June 19th, 2012 7:00 PM

    my friends and I love to do scavenger hunts! we do them at my country house every summer. we like to use more of a treasure hunt format where instead of finding/taking things for points you solve clues to get to your next clue ultimately ending in a little prize of some sort. we’ve done some pretty amazing things like make our own invisible ink, create riddles/codes to break, and other just crazy stuff. it’s lots of fun!

  • Kathryn June 19th, 2012 11:17 PM

    the fresh prince theme song would be a good karaoke choice because everyone knows it!

  • Sea goddess June 20th, 2012 7:52 PM

    Awww i want to do this super bad it looks like alit of fun, and many cool pictures would come out of this! Im just watching mtv and the show that’s on rightnow theyr are doing a scavenger hunt and it’s SO FUNNY hahaah

  • Clementine Rose November 4th, 2013 6:33 PM

    BEST. IDEA. EVER!!! My god I love you guys…