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Integrating Themes into Learning - NEW
(to be published in Home Educator's Association of Virginia magazine)

Setting Up a Creative Treasure Hunt

Creative Ways to Form Teams and Groups

A Treasure of a Fundraiser

Tips For Holding Treasure Hunts in Parks


Integrating Themes into Learning
Joe Dean

We sat in a tent drinking water from canteens and eating beef jerky. We tried to guess which wild animals were making noise as their grunts and roars filtered through the dark. Camping in the Savannah frightened my boys more than I had originally intended…but then again, sleeping under the stars in Africa wouldn't exactly feel safe if we were really there.

Over the years, nothing has excited my three sons more than a good Adventure Night. With each Adventure-Night theme, I have tried to transport my sons to another world with an exciting themed experience to go along with it. It's difficult to capture the spirit of Africa, for example, from a book or even a movie, so I did my best to recreate it for them. Although intellectually we all knew that we were safe and sound in our own darkened living room, the kids' imaginations took them someplace far away. That night they weren't in Idyllwild, California; they were in Africa, and you could see it in their faces. We all had a great time, and that evening burned into the boys' memories forever.

In previous Adventure Nights, I had taken them on quests for sunken pirate's treasure, explorations through darkest Africa, and even on a Scooby Doo murder-mystery case. I only had to mention the theme to get them excitedly chatting over the possibilities of what I might have waiting. Would they be exploring an Aztec tomb? Learning an American Indian burial ritual? Discovering an underwater research station?

Themes Communicate
In my more than 20 years of professional experience recreating themed parties and adventures for corporate and private events, I've learned that themes communicate. If you spend ten minutes explaining to an adult the responsibilities of an ancient Egyptian pharaoh, you'll be lucky if he retains 20% of the information. Have him sit on a pharaoh's throne for ten minutes, delegating the responsibilities himself, and he'll remember every detail for years. The more developed the theme, the richer the experience-and ultimately the more vivid the memory. Themed events are powerful tools for educating our children as well.

Even though for my professional clients I use hired actors, elaborate costumes, fog machines, and stage settings, these aren't necessary to develop an effective theme adventure. Through the use of cheap costume pieces, period music, and garage-sale junk, I've recreated chapters of history in which to envelop my sons. Once there, they explore the "world" by completing tasks and meeting characters from the era. With each problem-solving task they take on, their brains are engaged in a new, experiential way. Years later they can remember the names of the pharaohs they've met, the knights they've helped, and the cities they've visited-not because of hours of study, but rather because these were people my children met and places my children visited. My kids get to experience the world without leaving home.

Themes Bring Meaning
Whether we realize it or not, our lives are represented in themes. If we are at home, we are surrounded by sights, sounds, and smells that all reinforce the concept of home. When we are in Florida on vacation, we are surrounded by hotel rooms, palm trees, and the smell of ocean…they all work together to create a larger picture. If life delivers information in themes, why wouldn't we represent information in a similar format (or at least attempt to)? When details are brought together in a unified way, the overall concept has meaning. When there's meaning, our brains are engaged much more powerfully. Seemingly random items and facts now show relationships-and those relationships are exciting to discover.

Themes Make Learning Personal
When an event has meaning, we begin making observations and drawing conclusions. When I "took my kids to Africa," they began to question the sturdiness and stability of the tent (out of fear), and tried to judge the distance of the animals based on the volume I had arbitrarily chosen for the sounds being played. The theme took them to a new place and they brought their brains with them. The experience became personal, which is why they can still recall many of the details even years later. We all remember the personal.

Themes Bring Inspiration
A second by-product of transporting someone into a theme is the inspiration one feels from experiencing something new and exciting. A Caribbean island becomes a place where we can walk barefoot on sand, drink from a coconut, and eat bananas. It becomes an enchanting place where parrots call out and waves lap the shores. Theme experiences become actual places to my children-places they were glad they visited. They become places my kids want to learn more about. It's not uncommon for my sons to check out books at the library on subjects that pertained to a previous Adventure Night. Their curiosity was piqued and they wanted to know more. They wanted to experience more. That desire will keep them learning all through life.

Themes are Fun
Probably the most persuasive argument for integrating themes into learning is that it's fun. Marketers and advertising agents understand this, and utilize fun-appeal to sell their products. Where would you have more fun square dancing-in a school gymnasium or in an old barn? Which would you enjoy more-eating a croissant on your front porch or in a Parisian street café? The answers are obvious. Just think how children LOVE themed birthday parties-and for good reason.

Not everyone has access to stage props, costumes, sound effects, or the amount of free time necessary to pull off an elaborate theme. Fortunately, those aren't necessary to develop a theme to its maximum potential. One just needs to be creative. When I was in third grade I spent four consecutive Fridays offsite with a few other students for some experiential learning on the theme of Medieval Europe. During those few separate days, we made our own candles, constructed armor from cardboard, built a castle complete with drawbridge, and constructed an abbey. Can I remember anything else I learned that year? Not much. But I can tell you everything about those candles! I got some hot wax on my fingers and concluded on my own that, in order to not hurt themselves, candle makers back then must have had a lot of skill!

Tips for Creating Your Theme
A great place to begin is to plan for visuals, both setting and props. Visit your local library and check out a stack of children's books on your subject. Why start with children's books? They are the best resource for pictures and concise details. They get to the point and give you exactly what you want, quickly. Write down details you see, such as people's clothing styles, prevalent colors, native plants and animals, commonly used decorations, and other things.

Although the initial temptation might be to feel like you'll need to spend a lot of money on a ton of decoration props, there are a lot of quick and cheap-often free-ways of creating a themed setting. The first trick involves fabric. Going for a rustic, Old West theme? Try hanging some burlap over the entertainment center. Creating a Medieval castle? Hang swags of purple fabric on windows and doorways. Fabrics come in an endless variety of colors and prints. Check the dollar-a-yard section of your local Wal-Mart or fabric store. You'll be surprised at what you can find. The best part about using fabric is that it keeps well and can be used multiple times.

A second trick is the effective use of lighting. Don't have any plants but want to create a jungle? Switch out the normal white light bulb in your lamp with a green one purchased at any hardware store. Instant results. Want to transport the children to a Hawaiian-island volcano? Use a red light bulb. Sometimes no light is best. A darkened room and some candles can instantly create the inside of a Medieval abbey. You get the idea.

Something you might not readily think about is the concept of playing with temperature to imitate the "local" weather. Are you in the Arctic Circle? Crank up that air conditioner. In the breezy tropics? Turn on some fans. Outside a Hawaiian volcano? Break out some floor heaters. Simple things…but amazing results.

Walk around your house to see what you already have. On your search, you'll get ideas of items that would be perfect 'if only you had one.' This is when you ask around among friends, family, and coworkers. You'll be surprised what people have in their garages and attics! Other great resources include garage sales and second-hand stores. When choosing props, do what you can to find ones that your participants can USE. Let the child fill and carry a backpack with supplies for his African safari trip. Give her a map of the area or country to refer to during the experience.

Sound effects are usually an under-utilized resource for creating themes. With today's technology, though, the possibilities are limitless. There are two basic types of sound to use-music and sound effects. A great resource for sound (beyond your own collection) is your local library. There you'll have access to lots of different music and sound effects, all free of charge. Many metropolitan-area libraries have an inter-library loan system, thus allowing you to expand your selection. The BEST resource, however, is a major university library. You'd be amazed at the selection available, not to mention the wealth of knowledge from the librarians in the sound-recordings section.

Use period music relating to your theme. Try to avoid music ABOUT the theme; instead, use music INSIDE the theme. For example, don't play "Old MacDonald had a Farm" for a barnyard theme, when you can play music like "Turkey in the Straw" or some square-dancing fiddle songs.

A second choice for music can be the use of movie soundtracks. Professional songwriters and musicians get paid big bucks to create moods and themes with their music-take advantage of all the work they've already done. Try to avoid recognizable themes unless, of course, your theme IS that particular movie.

The use of even the simplest sound effects can produce amazing results. With a single sound effect (i.e. a lion's roar, a spacecraft liftoff, a horse whinny, etc.) you'll create a new dimension to your theme. You can string together a few different sounds (with timed spaces in between) for a more real-life effect. For example, you might string together different animal sounds as I did for my African safari Adventure Night. In addition to libraries, the Internet offers many sounds you can download for free.

Keep in mind the "feel" you want for your theme as you choose your sounds. When I made an attempt to recreate Africa, I wasn't trying to create a "vacation" feel but rather one more rustic and wild. For this I chose some simple jungle drum music I found at the library. Do you want an inviting feel? Do you want mystery? How about enchantment? Suspense? Make sure you know your mood first, and then choose the sound that will bring it out the best.

Once the theme is decided, plan for the child to become PART of it. This can be done several different ways; however, they all involve the concepts of DOING and EXPERIENCING, versus seeing and hearing. Although visuals and appropriately prepared sounds are fantastic tools for creating a theme, let them support, rather than supplant, the child's actions. Provide as many opportunities for children to think within the context of the theme. This concept is best understood by seeing examples of fun actions for children to do within each theme.

SPACE: Ask the children to create their own spaceship or shuttle control board for their ship (if you haven't already created one for them). Have them figure out their own take-off and landing procedures. Give them possible problems to solve when they're inside their ship, such as low fuel, damaged ship panels, and food shortage. Hold up photos of planets and other objects they might find on their journey, such as black holes and stars. See which they know by name.

OLD WEST: Have kids tie various knots and practice throwing ropes to lasso different objects. Give them pie tins and take them in the back yard to pan for gold. "Gold" can be made by spray painting gravel and burying it in mud you've prepared.

ESPIONAGE: Give kids secret messages to decode to reveal the names of specific world cities where hidden bombs have been placed. Then, give them a world map and have them locate those countries and cities. Create an obstacle course for them to go through to test their agility and endurance as spies "in the field." Take apart an old, broken kitchen appliance such as a can opener, toaster, or clock (garage sales are great resources for these) and explain to the children that these are the missing parts to a new decoding machine for the CIA. Give them instructions to deliver the parts to different people and places in the house.

PREHISTORIC: Create a dinosaur footprint in mud in your yard. Have the children make a plaster mixture and pour it into the imprint to create a cast of the footprint for analysis back in the lab. Provide the children with small notebooks to use as their "discovery journals" to write down all the things they see and experience as they explore the theme. Hide plastic eggs (raptor eggs) in the yard and explain that the children must find them and bring them back to the lab for research.

In Conclusion
A theme developed with great accuracy and detail makes it easier for participants to transport themselves not only INTO the theme, but also OUT OF their current world. They can leave behind what they think they know, and see things with a fresher viewpoint. Don't ask children to shut their eyes and imagine being someplace else; rather tell them to OPEN their eyes and to look around them. The more that they are able to see, smell, feel, and hear, the more they will understand and remember-not to mention find exciting. It's difficult enough to present material or share about a distant land or ancient culture in social studies. Those people are gone, and modern cities have been built on top of their ruins. But when you integrate themes into learning, children can fully grasp a culture's relevance even if they are not fortunate enough to travel the world and view the actual ruins and ancient historical relics.


Setting Up A Creative Treasure Hunt
(an article by By Joe Dean)

Treasure Hunt activities are double edge swords. On one hand they can leave room for an abundance of creativity and fun for the planner. On the flip side, the more creative the planner gets, the quicker the process gets more complicated, causing an escalating feeling of being overwhelmed and a desire to quit. Creating one of kind, themed treasure hunts is my passion and I hope that the suggestions provided in this article will assist you as you plan a fun treasure hunt activity for your friends, family and co-workers.


Treasure hunts are great because of their wide appeal. Their flexibility enables the maximum amount of participation no matter what group is involved. Young can participate as well as old. Those less cerebral can enjoy it as much as someone who works crossword puzzles in their sleep. They can utilize a wide range of skill sets from problem solving opportunities to physical agility to interpersonal dynamics. The shy and bold. The tall and short. The poor and wealthy. EVERYONE can enjoy the activity!

Treasure hunts are also great because of their versatility. They can be adapted to any location or locations and surroundings. They can be created to fit any duration of time needed from several minutes to several days! They can even work around any theme or special occasion you might be planning around.


Over the years, I've explored literally hundreds of varieties of formats. There are a few basic formats to begin with. Enjoy creating hybrids of the ones detailed below, or have fun creating your own!

· At a single location - This is where the treasure hunt itself is at a fixed location and all activities, clues, maps, etc. revolve around this single location (i.e. inside your home, at a church, inside a baseball stadium, etc.) Participants travel by foot typically (although there is a lot of room for creativity here…)

· Car Rally - This is where the participants are grouped by carload and progress through the treasure hunt as a team, driving from one location to the other. The options for varying locales are much greater, but deep consideration must be kept so that your participants aren't spending the bulk of their time driving only.
CREATIVE TIP - In order to ensure maximum safety with this type of format (to limit the speeding for example, as the teams will be tempted to do in their cars while they race throughout the city) try this: Group each team together. Tell EVERY participant to remove their driver's licenses from their wallets/purses and hold them in the air. Provide each designated, team driver with an envelope. Instruct each participant to put their driver's license in their driver's envelope. Make sure every envelope is sealed. Now instruct the drivers to put this sealed envelope into the glove compartment of the vehicle they will be driving. When teams return, they must present a sealed envelope. You see, should they get pulled over by a police officer, the officer will ask for the driver's license. At that time, the team will need to tear open their envelope - thus disqualifying themselves from the race.

· Progressive Dinner - This is a fun variation wherein the participants will partake in a full course meal at different locations. Each course (i.e. salad, soup, main course, dessert, etc.) will be served separately at different, previously undisclosed locations throughout the city. The team's job will be to use the clues provided at the beginning to get to their first course/location. Once there and they've enjoyed the course, they will be given instructions/clues that will lead them to a new location, wherein the next course will be served. This can be a lot of fun, especially if the food/meal is themed to the theme of the treasure hunt (i.e. seafood with a pirate theme, etc.)


· Give your treasure hunt an overall theme. It's more difficult to make sense of the activity without cohesiveness. An overall theme (no matter what it is) does the job nicely. The theme could either be already built in based on the gathering itself (Christmas party, St. Patrick's Day festival) or purely imagined by you. The following is a healthy list of themes to get your creative juices flowing: Pirates, Indiana Jones/Tomb Raider, Spy/CIA/Mission Impossible, Wild West, any of the Disney movies would work for children (and adults…), Medieval, American Revolution, Civil War, Roaring 20s/Mobsters, Arabian Nights.

· Give your treasure hunt a storyline if possible. By storyline I am referring to some 'goal' the teams will be attempting to accomplish. In this way, you'll be transforming a treasure hunt into an adventure. Why connect random locations around the city when you could have the participants continue their search for a specific treasure, recover an ancient Aztec idol or rescue a French aristocrat from the guillotine during the French Revolution! Since we began offering treasure hunt downloads revolving around different themes, our customers have reported that they have observed a much higher level of fun on behalf of those participating.

· Utilize volunteers whenever possible. It's fun to show up at a location to get a clue…however it's a LOT more fun to show up and find someone waiting to interact with! This is especially effective if you've chosen to incorporate a theme to your treasure hunt. Then, you could have volunteers dressed in costume, ready to bring to life the adventure you've created! Volunteers can be recruited from friends, family, schoolmates, children, co-workers, children's friends, co-workers' children's friends…you get the idea. It's not unusual for the volunteers to enjoy themselves more than those actually going through the treasure hunt itself.

· If the teams haven't been grouped by the participants themselves, have fun dividing up the group. This can be done in a variety of ways (you can also see our Article 'Grouping' for specific ideas) including grouping by drivers license numbers, drawing names from hats, passing out 'like' objects written on pieces of paper (those with similar objects are in a group.) In this way, you'll also be providing a creative solution to the 'how do I keep everyone from running out at the same time?' problem. You see, only allow a team to head out once all the members of their team are found and assembled. In this way, the teams being released will be staggered, making it more difficult for teams to follow each other.

· Depending on the reason for the hunt, you might opt to spread the treasure hunt over several days, releasing a little fun each day. This can be especially fun if the treasure hunt is for a single person. They can enjoy the treasure hunt over a prolonged period of time. Each day would present a new surprise on their journey. This can be accomplished by providing the clues needed to lead someone to a new location, but instructing the participant that they must wait until the following day at X time before the next clue will be available. This is also great for the workplace because it will only pull the workers away from their duties for a few minutes a day (depending on how elaborate you've designed the clues and puzzles for a single location.)

· Launch it with a bang! If you've chosen a theme for your treasure hunt, have someone dressed up in character to see the teams off. Be excited and enthusiastic.

· Do your best to have a bang of an ending. Your participants will have rushed, sweat and pushed their brains all in an effort to get to the 'end' of the treasure hunt. Reward them with a great ending by providing snacks and drinks, possibly even entertainment. When possible, give closure to the adventure by providing a visual representation of their goal (i.e. set up a treasure chest if they were looking for pirate treasure, have someone dressed up as a thief if they were trying to catch one, etc.)

Creative Ways to form Teams and Groups
(an article by By Joe Dean)

Whether for party games, corporate teambuildings, classrooms, 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.


A Treasure of a Fundraiser
(an article by By Joe Dean)

Throughout the 15+ years of designing themed treasure hunts/scavenger hunts professionally, some of the most successful and exciting events planned were for fundraising efforts. With low overhead costs and the ability to generate a lot of excitement for a fresh, new type of event, themed treasure hunts are proving to be more and more successful in raising money for private and public organizations, large and small.

There are a number of different creative and exciting ways to raise money by planning a themed treasure hunt. This article will attempt to 'whet your appetite' as to the numerous ways funds can be raised and excitement generated for your next fundraising event by creating a treasure hunt.

The treasure hunt itself can vary greatly in both size and budget. Some treasure hunts I've produced have been for crowds in the hundreds paying small entrant fees - all attempting to be the first to complete the treasure hunt for a prize donated by a local merchant. Others have been considerably more sophisticated, as in the case of a California Department of Mental Health function held a few years ago. Bids were sold to a more affluent crowd and a Quest for the Holy Grail adventure was held on the grounds of a very large and wealthy estate. (For more information on the Quest for the Holy Grail adventure, click here) The flexibility exists to ensure that every group fundraiser can be successful, no matter the size, age or affluence of the participants.

The following is a collection of ideas to show the various and numerous ways to raise money easily and creatively by planning a fantastic themed treasure hunt adventure:

· Begin by planning on selling tickets to participate in the event. Ticket prices can vary depending on the demographics of your participants. For example, if your are planning an event involving high school aged students, you'd probably fair better at selling hundreds of tickets at a cheaper price. However, if you were planning an event for a more mature and sophisticated crowd, you might want to sell tickets at a much higher price, making available only a set number of tickets for purchase to ensure higher odds at winning the grand prize for the participants (especially if a prize is given for the winning team.)

· Great prizes can be offered. Many groups have been very successful at arranging for prizes to be donated by local merchants. Sometimes a large prize was donated, such as a television set. At other times, a small basket of several smaller gifts has been offered from donating merchants ($15 gift certificates, etc.) Prizes can also come in the form of services provided by the organization planning the treasure hunt. For example, a prom committee raising funds for their dance could give out free Prom bids to the first five finishing teams. Another idea for a prize is to have the top placing teams being refunded their entry fee - or even getting a percentage of the total proceeds taken in by the event.

· Here are a few tricks to get prizes donated for your treasure hunt:
o Offer the vendor's location as one of the stop's at the treasure hunt (free advertising)
o Offer to photocopy a small advertisement on the back of a map or clue to your hunt
o Allow the vendor (depending on the type of business they are in) to set up a booth or something thereof at the final destination to the treasure hunt.
o Put the sponsor's advertisement on the ticket the participants buy to the treasure hunt

· As a way to enhance your treasure hunt theme, find out if a local costume shop will donate one or some of the needed costumes

· Curtailing the above, if there are any other props or set pieces that would enhance your treasure hunt theme, find out if there are any vendors who would donate them in exchange for a form of advertising.

· Capitalize on your treasure hunt theme. Is your theme based on Pirates of the Caribbean? Why not have a small pirate port themed area at the beginning/end of the hunt and sell spaces to vendors where themed items and food can be sold? The same would work for a mini Renaissance Faire or an Egyptian marketplace. Depending on your treasure hunt theme, you could really plan a spectacular bazaar that could rival the hunt itself for excitement!

· Print up a mini story or background piece about the theme and storyline of your adventure treasure hunt and distribute them to the participants before they begin. It will generate a lot of enthusiasm when your participants get consumed with the story.

· Once the treasure hunt event is proven a success, it could easily be turned into an annual event, as it did with several of my clients. Teams from the year before's treasure hunt often reassembled in later hunts to try once more to win the prize. A continuing plaque or trophy could be displayed with the current and all past year's treasure hunt winners.

Perhaps the greatest part about planning a themed treasure hunt adventure for your next fundraiser, besides all the excitement it will generate, is the fact that it has a potentially very high chance of having very little overhead costs. Aside from some photocopies and footwork, few other expenses need to be expended - now that is music to a fundraiser's ears!

Plan something new and exciting that everyone will remember in future years! Plan a treasure of a fundraiser!

For a listing of our different treasure hunt packages CLICK HERE



Tips for Holding Treasure Hunts in Public Parks

It's been proven to me over and over again that one can hold a really great treasure hunt just about anywhere. Parks are great places to have them! Sometimes you can find some with small caves and tunnels made out of overgrowth (my personal favorite...). The following is a small list of useful and practical tips when hiding clues at parks (most I have learned the hard way!

1. Make sure that NO KIDS see you hide your clue or bury an object. I guarantee you, as soon as you leave, they will rush over and remove whatever it was that you left. It sounds terrible, but remember...they ARE kids and finding a mysterious clue or unearthing a treasure chest is like a slice of heaven to them!

2. Find out what times the parks open and close. Sometimes different parks close at dusk, other times much later in the evening. I've been escorted by policemen out of parks when I've tried to hide my clues the night before. Not fun.

3. Keep in mind where the sprinklers are. Many parks have their sprinklers timed to go off in the middle of the night. Even if you are successful at hiding your clues the night before, you could be left with soggy scraps in the morning.

4. Depending on your theme, look for parks with or near washes. Typically, at least in So. Cal. where I live, you'll find a heavy growth of vegetation. I've used locales like this for jungles and pirate scenes (the water is a great place to hide a bottle with a note - just make sure that you secure it with rocks so that the current of the wash doesn't move it.)

5. When exploring these heavy-growth areas (off the beaten track), be careful of vagrants' domiciles. You don't want to get too close to someone's home.

6. Many parks are themed. Get a hold of your local county map a puruse the parks in your area. I did that once and found a killer Western themed park. It had a street with shop fronts, a jail, a hotel, the works - and it was all made from old wood. Sometimes, the best parks are nestled in housing tracks where few readily know where to find them.

7. Be careful of festivals. Sometimes a festival can take over an entire park - without any warning - taking that killer place that you were planning on hiding the final object. Check the Dept. of Parks and Rec. in your area to make sure that a surprise like that won't happen.

8. Curtailing the above, make sure that you find out who might have certain areas of the park reserved. Sometimes a company picnic could be just as big a problem - if they were in the wrong spot.

9. Keep in mind the amount of walking time. It's great to utilize a huge park, just make sure you walk the entire path yourself first.

10. Find a park with nature trails. You can find some fantastic places for clues here (especially if you wander off the path a bit!)

11. Be aware that some parks charge you to park. Also keep in mind where the parking lots are - and all of them. I have had some participants once enter a parking lot that I wasn't aware of...boy did that mess things up!

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