Creative Ways To Form Treasure Hunt Teams

(This article is a continuation of our Adventure Treasure Hunts 101 -
The FREE Course
series. To start from the beginning, click HERE.)

Whether for party games, corporate teambuildings or just small focused discussions, a host/facilitator is presented with the task of putting people into groups. Depending on the participants involved and the activity in mind, this task can fall between overly simple and extremely daunting. The following illustrates some ideas from the simple to the fun and creative on breaking your larger groups into smaller ones.

Simple options:

1. Allow the participants to form their own groups. Make sure you inform the participants ahead of time the minimum/maximum member group size you'll allow for the activity.

2. A simple count off. Decide ahead of time on the number of groups that you'll need for the activity. Then count down the participants (1, 2….), starting over with 1 when you've reached the amount equal to the number of groups you'd like to set up. This way will ensure that the groups will have (as close as the possible) the same number of team members. The numbers themselves can be given in a couple of different ways.

a. A simple verbal countdown in front of everyone (for smaller groups.)
b. At the time of sign in/registration, assign each person a number…then recall this number during the time of the activity set up.


3. Similar to #2 above, provide each person with a color. These colors can then be repeated in materials for activity and other parts of the event.

Some more creative solutions to forming smaller groups:

1. Play farmyard animals (for the more outgoing groups…) Give every participant a farm animal (similar to the numbers and colors above - the number of different farm yard animals being equal to the number of groups you'd like to be formed and participate in your activity.) When you say 'Go!' the participants will make an attempt to find their fellow team members…however, they are not allowed to speak! They can only make the sound of their animal. For example, everyone with a 'cow' written on their piece of paper will begin mooing until they all find each other. Sound overly simple? Well, it won't be when simultaneously the ducks are quacking, the dogs are barking, the cats are meowing, the pigs are snorting, the horses are neighing and the chicks are peeping! This can be especially effective for activities involving a competition (such as a treasure hunt, etc.) because the teams will be formed in a staggered formation. Each team will begin the activity/hunt only when all their team members are present. The facilitator could then release the beginning treasure hunt materials to a team only when all members are present and accounted for.

2. Something that take a little more preparation (but can be worth it) is to give every participant a unique item written on a piece of paper. If you know ahead of time that you'll need groups of four, come up with different categories for each team. For example, if you have 15 participants and you want them to break up into three teams of five you might choose three categories such as planets, body parts and musical instruments. Then, on separate pieces of paper write five different planets, body parts, etc. Mix the papers up and randomly hand the papers out to the participants and explain that they must form themselves into like groups. In this scenario, it isn't hard to see that the participants would quickly and easily form their groups. The activity quickly complicates when the number of participants increases (likewise the number of categories.) To control the level of complication (and overall time required to form the groups) you can either choose categories that are more similar (states, countries, cities, continents, etc.) or by opting to tell/not tell the participants the categories to choose from.

3. A variation on the above is to instruct the participants that each team must be formed from ONE of each element of a given group. For example, give everyone in the room a piece of paper with a day of the week on it. You could either group all the Mondays together…or instruct the participants to form a 'complete week' - one member from each day. This works very well…just be careful when dealing with 'left overs' (perhaps there aren't enough Fridays in the room to complete the final week group.) This can be compensated for by instructing the participants to form groups of five (for example) and every team member must be from a different day of the week, etc.

Here are some other categories that you might choose if using options 2 or 3 above: states, cartoon characters, countries, languages, dogs, trees, vegetables, fruits, cookies, continents, modes of transportation, presidents, authors, artists/painters, cities, movies, letters of the alphabet, numbers, songs, phobias, occupations, holidays, months of the year, fast food chains, candy, actors, directions (North, South, East, West), titles (Queen, King, Duke, Prince, Lord, Countess, etc.), illnesses, forms of world currency (yen, dollars, pounds, francs, etc.) and universities.

Focused suggestions for corporate teambuildings:

1. Grouping individuals that normally work together can bring with it two different dynamics. On one hand it can be quite functional, enabling the team members to 'practice' working together in ways that perhaps they might not normally. This can bring about a 'freshness' to their working relationships - which might have drifted into staleness over the preceding months or even years. However, depending on the activity, it could also easily slip into an 'auto-pilot' group interaction where each individual plays the same or similar role that they play day to day (i.e. the leader will lead, the follower will follow, etc.) By mixing up members from different departments, individuals might get to experience an opportunity to play a different role than perhaps they see available in their own current department dynamics. This can be a great way to recognize leadership skills in individuals who might not be currently in a leadership role.

2. A suggestion that can have interesting results is to make sure that each team has a representative from every department (as much as possible.) This is especially effective when there consistent conflicts between certain departments (i.e. sales and accounting, loan officers and closing departments, etc.) It can bridge gaps and understanding between misunderstood departments when the individuals understand that each personality type can contribute something unique and essential to the overall success of the team.

Want to make the treasure hunt process even easier? Consider our treasure hunt puzzles collections! They contain individual puzzles that were designed to be INSERTED to a treasure hunt you are creating - mini activities to give your adventurers something more than just reading rhyming clues! With dozens of themes to choose from, we've done what we can to make the treasure hunt planning process as easy as possible without sacrificing creativity! Click HERE to see our adventure themes!