When you were a kid, did you ever participate in a scavenger hunt at a birthday party? There’s nothing like the thrill of the hunt, trying to find obscure items and be the first team back to “home base” to show your spoils. With the resurgence in popularity of instant cameras, a new generation of kids are having tons of fun seeking out obscure items and documenting their “finds.”
Scavenger hunts are fun, no matter what your age. When I was a corporate trainer, I routinely used this training format as a way to make the learning of “dry” or detailed material fun. Which would you rather do: listen to someone drone on about the 25 safety features required by your company’s EHS department, or go on a scavenger hunt through the documentation and find the information yourself?
When it comes to designing the “hunt,” you can either have people stay in the room and seek out information online or in written documentation. Or, you can ask them to physically go out into the world and seek out information. This “world” might be confined to your office building, or you can send them into the “field” to have an even broader learning experience. As this article from Vanderbilt University states, “learning experiences outside the classroom are inherently interdisciplinary. When we go out into the world, we encounter it as a whole and are forced to engage multiple modalities, no matter which pair of disciplinary ‘lenses’ we intended to wear.”
Scavenger hunts are an easy, cost-effective way to train people and build teamwork. Here are some ideas on how to use this training methodology.
- For in-person on-boarding sessions, pair up participants and have them go on a tour of the building and locate key items from a checklist such as the cafeteria, the recycling bins and location of fire extinguishers.
- As a way to facilitate people getting to know each other, create a series of questions such as, “find a person who has traveled to at least three different states” and have the participants mingle about the room, seeking out answers.
- For employees who need to know how to locate information quickly from a database, create a series of mock “searches” and ask them to go find the information. Give extra points for people who “dig deep” and find especially useful, but hard-to-find information.
Because they are easy to construct and cost-effective, many companies also turn to scavenger hunts for team-building in addition to training. Ido Rabiner is the CEO of Strayboots, an organization that creates customized scavenger hunts for their corporate clients as a means to explore the cities near their organizations. Many clients find that the team-building element is what they enjoy most, citing the ability to interact with people they don’t typically see on a daily basis. One Microsoft employee who went on a Strayboots scavenger hunt commented, “What the group enjoyed about this was mingling with people that they maybe don’t always work with, or at least mingling with people in a different way. This is a work group, we do engage with each other in a variety of ways, but not like this.”
There are numerous ways that Strayboots’ clients use the tours, which is accessed via a mobile link sent to a “team captain’s” smartphone. “Law firms are using scavenger hunts to help new interns get to know the company and the city surrounding it better, and universities are using our tool for their orientation days to help new students get to know the campus,” says Rabiner.
The next time you’re looking to breathe some new life into your training programs or team-building activities, consider a scavenger hunt. It’s easy, inexpensive and it gets your participants “out in the world” in a way they might not normally get to experience.
Disclosure language: This is a post sponsored by Strayboots. I was compensated for writing this blog post. Even though I write about topics and services that I think will benefit my readers, this post is not a specific endorsement of the products and services listed. I encourage you to make your own decisions (purchasing and otherwise) based on research you conduct.