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Treasure Hunt Clues – How to Hide Something for a Treasure Hunt

Updated on October 12, 2008

Hiding Treasures, Finding Spots

In the Beginning...

Treasure hunts, and its sister-game the Scavenger hunt, are games that have been around since time immemorial. When someone mentions ‘treasure,' the first thing that often pops into mind is a chest overflowing with gold, found by a ship captain with one eye, a wooden leg, and a parrot perched on his shoulder. Pirates may have been the inspiration for the treasure hunt game, but as to when it was first played, no one knows exactly. Unfortunately, the word ‘scavenger' does not share that same glorified image. No one would blame someone who immediately thinks of a person sorting through trash for scraps of food when the word ‘scavenger' is mentioned.

Pirates and scavengers do have some things in common: they embark on a journey to find something useful and/or valuable, and they often don't know what form their ‘treasure' will take. For pirates, it can be a crown encrusted with rubies and sapphires. Scavengers will be glad to find a whole slice of relatively fresh pizza in the trash chute. The sense of fulfillment after finding the treasure is indeed great.

The game plays upon the suspense of finding the treasure and adds a whole new element - solving riddles to find the item they are looking for. Pirates had their maps, present day treasure hunters only have clues in the form of text, unrecognizable photos, or empty maps to use as clues. Usually, in scavenger hunts, they are not even given a map at all, but at least they are equipped with a list of clues to help them find what they are looking for.


Delayed Gratification

Treasure hunts not only play up on the prospect of finding something wonderful, it also makes the journey going there challenging and gratifying as well. After all, a person experiences the greatest satisfaction if he or she knows that he or she earned what he or she found after so much hard work. In the case of treasure hunts and scavenger hunts, finding the treasure becomes icing on the cake when participants have gone through the grueling process of exercising their mind muscles to solve the clues given to them.

For participants, it may seem easy to hide items. Those who have not experienced organizing a treasure hunt or scavenger hunt yet may think that all the organizers need are some bulky pieces of furniture, rocks, foliage, or other similar things that can conceal a clue or an item. In truth, organizers do have a hard time trying to find ways on how to hide something for the game. Not only are they responsible for picking the hiding spot, they are also responsible for viewing that spot in a less than mundane way so that they can conceal it through words.

This takes a certain amount of creativity on the organizer's part. The game is successful if the organizers have given the participants enough of a challenge while still making it fun.


Treasure Hunt Clues

There are a number of ways to conceal items, and there are also different methods of providing clues. Four of these will be discussed below.

  1. The Map. Maps have always been part of treasure hunting lore. Pirates relied on browning, crumpled maps where "X marks the spot" of where the treasure is hidden. Treasure hunting can also make use of maps as well. Organizers are well-advised to equip their participants with compasses to understand the directions that are indicated on the map. In making maps, make sure that latitudes and longitudes are properly represented, and try to make the map as accurate as possible when scaling down the sizes of the landmarks. To draw maps, organizers may want to have a compass with them while drawing so that they can make the directions as accurate as possible. For added feel, tear off the sides of the paper, wipe white paper with a used tea bag, crumple it, and leave it overnight. When you unfurl it the next day, it will look like an age-old map.  
  2. The Riddles. Rhymes are another way to leave clues for participants of either treasure hunts or scavenger hunts. Rhyming words make the clue sound pleasing to the ear, and thus easier to remember. In addition, the strict rules of rhyming allow organizers to get creative in concealing the ‘identity' of the hiding spot. Rhymes and riddles are present in every culture in every country. It helps to make your own, but look to other riddles for inspiration. Make sure that the words you use are appropriate for the age of your participants. Ten-year-olds may not know what the words like "exacerbate" mean.  
  3. The Photos. Modern technology has caught up with this age-old game. Photographs are becoming increasingly popular as clues for the treasure hunting. Because a person's brain is used to seeing things at the macro level, it might get disoriented when presented with an aspect of an object that the brain tends to overlook. Thus, it proves to be challenging for participants to figure out what the object in the photograph actually is, or what part of the designated area can the object in it be found. This is perhaps the simplest way to leave clues, since you only need to have a clear idea of the hiding spots and your good old camera nearby.  
  4. Others. Literally, you enlist the help of other people. You can ask these people to be like outposts where each participant (or group) should go. They can ask the group to perform a task, and after that, hand over the next clue or the name of the next person where they should go to. This is an entirely novel way of scattering and ‘hiding' clues, inspired by earlier pirates' interaction with villagers or towns that they have been to. For the organizer, that means decreased responsibility as well, since you have a few more heads to help you with thinking.

These ways to hide treasure hunt clues are the generic kinds, and they can evolve into different variations depending on the theme of the hunt and what the game hopes to achieve. It will be no surprise if the game still stays even until the time of our great-great-great-grandchildren, but that only proves that treasure hunting - and the thrill that comes with it - can outlast any man's lifetime.


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