Enoch’s Treasure Hunt

As is often the case, my life partner astounded me this weekend with a fresh perspective.

For our daughter’s birthday party she modified the scavenger/treasure hunt in a way that maintained the kids’ interest while de-emphasizing the ultra-competitive, capitalistic nature of many of these games.

Each child’s digital picture was printed onto a single envelope, in which was deposited a clue (in this case a picture of a place or an object in or around the house) to the location of the next envelope. The final envelope contained the location of the treasure, which was a communal treasure (in this case Witch Pez dispensers). In this way, every child was the center of attention for at least one portion of the game, and the children ran from envelope to envelope, pausing to cluster around each new clue holder with sincere anticipation. At the end, they loaded and emptied the Pez dispensers with great gusto.

Not something they played in the Missouri Zion, but we’re hopeful that when the Sacred City returns to the Gulf of Mexico her idea will be an option for birthday parties.
There were 9 kids (ages ~4-6), it took about 60min total to set up and lasted for about 20 minutes during the party. They seemed shocked but pleased to discover their photograph on the envelope. Most of the clues were culled from magazine pages, but for the treasure location, a doll’s pram, I just photographed the actual pram and put a printout in the last envelope).


  1. Great idea, Sam. I have a love/hate relationship with competitive games or sports, and have to be cautious, as I am not always as nice when there is a chance to lose or win something. This is a good idea for younger kids.

    We once did a YM high adventure based on some Survivor type games, but tried to emphasize some gospel centered principles. For example, we had our young men divided up into two groups (tribes) and had them go into a grocery store separately, and asked them to pick out 5 cans of canned food for the other group, under $10 total.

    What we did not tell them is how they would be used. When we got back to camp, as leaders we removed the labels, set all ten cans on the table, and had each tribe alternate in choosing a can for the other team to eat. As an option, they could choose to eat one themselves. The team eating the food would divide the contents of the can five ways, and we would time them as to how long it took to eat it all.

    One team was pretty good, and bought fruit cocktail, canned peaches, things like that. The other team chose to go with hominy, pickled beets, okra in tomato sauce, etc. When they realized what we were asking them to do with the now unlabeled cans, one of the kids on the team that had been least charitable said “We are so busted. This is an object lesson!”. The bad guys ended up trying to eat the hominy, and although I know some of you love grits, these guys could not finish a 20 ounce can of white hominy. They were so grossed. I thought it went over quite well.

  2. great game, kevinf. i’ve not really dealt with old kids since being one. i suspect it will take more finesse in that group.

  3. Sam and kevin, great ideas. I just wish I was close to that creative / imaginative.

  4. That’s awesome! I plan on using that next year for my sons birthdays.

  5. I dislike competition in children’s party games – great idea for a treasure hunt. We used to have a similar problem with Easter egg hunts until one year we realized that we had enough of those plastic eggs that we could assign an egg color to each child (e.g., “you get to collect the purple eggs”). Thus, every child embarked on the hunt knowing they had exactly 12 eggs to find of a specific color and that no one else could collect eggs of “their” color. The effect was better than we anticipated. Not only did competition cease, but the children began to help one another in finding each other’s eggs.

  6. I do something similar to Tam, just give them a number limit. When they’ve found that many, then they help each other find the rest.

  7. spencerwa says:

    My wife is in charge of the ward easter activity every year. They do an easter egg hunt. They buy enough of the assorted plastic eggs that there are enough for every kid to get one of each color. Then they put a different type of candy in each color egg.

    The instructions are for each kid to get one of each color. That way they all get the same number and the same candy. Once the big kids find all their’s, they help the little ones find the colors they need. It works great.

  8. S.P. Bailey says:

    Sooner or later children raised soft like this will be vanquished by my children. (I have been looking for a bumper sticker that says: “My child is on the honor roll. And she can kick your little sissy’s a**!”)

  9. SP,

    There’s enough competition in life and it is certainly age appropriate to do some of those things. Everything is not competition. IE, one person’s entry into the Celestial Kingdom does not limit anyone else’s chances.

    My deal with the YM, who are all very competitive athletically and academically, was to help them realize that there are aspects of life that don’t involve competition.

    I know you, you’re that person that is always speeding around the parking lot to get to the open space first!

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