5 tips for planning an epic cottage scavenger hunt

Scavenger-hunt Robin Craig/Shutterstock

Regardless of whether you’re at the cottage in the midst of a rainy week, or a sunny long weekend, a scavenger hunt is a sure-fire way to create excitement.

Here are five tips for pulling off a seamless and fun scavenger hunt at the cottage.

 Create your list of items to “scavenge”

 There’s more than one way to organize a scavenger hunt and weather can certainly play a role in what will appear on your list. However, to keep participants of all ages engaged, we recommend that your list includes a combination of “items” (things to find and collect), “experiences” (things to witness), and “tasks” (things to do).

Here are some examples to get you started:


  • Something from nature shaped like a heart
  • A four-leaf clover
  • Something from nature that’s fuzzy
  • Something from nature that’s edible
  • An unusual rock


  • Skip a rock
  • Find an animal track
  • Watch an animal eating
  • Catch a frog


  • Make a piece of headwear from found natural materials
  • Find out the community store owner’s middle name
  • Do a leaf rubbing
  • Bring back a piece of garbage to recycle
  • Assemble a tent
  • Complete an act of service for your next door neighbour
  • Cover a teammate entirely in sand

Consider using treasure-hunt-style clues

If you have older kids or adults participating, you may also want to include treasure-hunt-style riddles. (i.e. “The More I Dry, The Wetter I Become” would be a towel.) If you’re not a wordsmith, a quick Google search will help you with this task. (Just make sure the Internet off-limits before the hunt begins!)

Clearly explain the rules to everyone in attendance

Be sure to establish physical boundaries for the hunt, as well as when participants need to return to home base. You’ll also need to let teams know the scoring system and how the winner will be determined.

Give everyone the equipment they’ll need to complete the hunt

This may include a camera or smartphone to document evidence of their hunt, a bag to collect treasures in, and a clipboard to keep track of their findings. If an item should be left in nature (or witnessed, rather than collected), make this clear as well.

Offer prizes

To keep everyone on task, there should be a prize at the end of the hunt. Popsicles or ice cream is always a great reward for all participants. However, top place should receive a special treat — for example, perhaps they get to have their favourite cottage meals, or are excused from cottage chores for a day.

Finally, remember that if kids are in attendance, they should be the top priority. The beauty of this, of course, is that you can even sit this one out while the kids make their own fun. You might even want to extend their time limit by an extra hour so you can complete your own hunt for serenity.

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