If you see a strange woman lurking around your neighborhood, peering into store windows and gazing high and low, that could be me planning a SCAVENGER HUNT!
I like to say that the neighborhood informs the hunt rather than the other way around. I take an initial walk keeping a very open mind. On these walks, I see and discover so many cool things and some of them write themselves into the hunt. For example, in West Seattle, there is an alleyway with a school art project on the wall. The students made tiles depicting future possible careers. So one of my clues is for each person on my hunt-older and younger-to talk about what they wanted to be when they were young and how it changed (or not) over time.
I go into the shops and look around. I have to remind myself to look both up and down (for some of the best-kept secrets are hanging from the rafters or embedded in the floorboards). On my Vashon Island hunt, I discovered that someone in a building in the 1940’s had hammered in tin cans to cover up empty vent holes in the 1940’s.
I talk to the shopkeepers if I can and tell them what I am up to. Some are resistant as they don’t want the hunt to impact business, but most are excited and jump in to help me create the clues. Sometimes I find a fellow hunt lover such as Brent Huston who owns Hinge on Vashon Island. Not only did he come up with some tricky and thoughtful clues, but he also put a small red dot on one of his paintings leading to… hey, I can’t tell you!
My idea of the hunt is that it should be a win-win. The shops get traffic and people are really looking around and seeing new things. In fact, I have not planned a single scavenger hunt where I haven’t found something unexpected that I have bought.
In round two of the hunt, I have to re-research everything because towns are always changing and new secrets emerge. It is so much fun to make scavenger hunts. I feel more connected to the land and love exploring and finding quirky little things that are special and unique, things that are often overlooked while we are buried in our phones. I hope that my own fun in creating the hunt shines through and makes you feel a bit like a little kid again.