When thinking of amazing treasure hunt ideas, one thing that always comes to mind is how the Amazing Race is really the ultimate global treasure hunt. If you want to let your kids and their friends experience the thrill of the Amazing Race, go on and host your own, complete with treasure hunt clues and plenty of adventure. They might not be racing around the world, but after it’s all said and done, they’ll feel like they’ve had some amazing fun.
Just like the real Amazing Race, you’ll have to take some time to prepare the party. Send out some themed invitations and remind the kids to wear sneakers and sun protection if you anticipate the weather will be hot.
In the show, each team of two faces a series of predictable challenges on each leg of the race. These include Route Info (easy to do with Riddle Me), Detours and Road Blocks before they finally reach the Pit Stop. You will need to prepare either one or two race legs, depending on the length of time you have for your party. If you are planning an afternoon party, one leg should suffice. If you’re going all out, you could consider running a race sleepover with two legs. The first leg would play out in the evening and the second in the morning after the children wake up. Once you make this determination, you have to plan out each challenge so that the race can get in full swing upon the kid’s arrival.
On Your Mark
Once the children begin to show up, go ahead and strip them of their socks and shoes. They’ll get a kick out of it and wonder what’s about to happen. Then have them write their name on a card and toss it into a hat. Draw the names to create pairs. If you don’t have an even number of racers, bring along a sibling or cousin to participate. As all the children are paired off into teams, give each team matching colored bandanas or t-shirts that they can wear to help them remember which color team they are.
While the teams are getting prepared, have one of the adults take all the socks and shoes to a predesignated area of the park or your yard and scatter them throughout the area in preparation for their first task.
Allow the children to create names for their teams, such as ‘long-time BFFs’ or ‘Class Clowns’ like they do in the show. Once the kids have all arrived, the pre-preparation is complete and the first task is staged, have the children line up and using their team names, announce the participating pairs. Let them know of any ground rules, such as if you need to stop for water or to take a bathroom break, the time keeps on ticking and the race continues. Now that they’re all set, pass out their first Route Info card tucked inside a rip-tear envelope. On your mark … Get Set …
On go, the children will tear into their envelope to reveal their first Route Info clue, easily made with Riddle Me’s treasure hunt software. This can direct them to go search for their socks and shoes. Once they find them all, each racer must dress their teammate before heading back to the mat for the next clue. Be prepared for a mad dash of children.
Once they collect their next clue, it can direct them to a tree marked with their team color. Scattered beneath the tree can be 100 pieces of folded paper containing treasure hunt clues or 100 to 200 pennies. Their Route Info card will tell them that they must search for the paper marked with a star sticker or a penny from a specific year. Alternatively, you can also enter these instructions at the bottom of each Riddle Me clue card instead of creating a Route Info card. Make sure to put just one paper or penny that meets the mark. It will be a test of patience, persistence and dumb luck. When they find it, back to the mat to collect the next clue.
As the teams complete the task and return to the mat, hand each of them their next clue. For example, they’ll open it to reveal a Detour giving them a choice of two tasks. Whichever task they select, they’ll have to work together as a team. Typically a Detour includes a task that requires precision and skill and a task that requires strength and patience. Remember your treasure hunt clues will have to be relevant to the area where you are playing.
Some skill options could be a frisbee toss where the team must make eight successful passes and catches before advancing. If the park you’re racing in has tennis or basketball courts, you can require a 10-ball volley or three successful free throw shots from each team member. Remember, you will need to have some adult judges posted at the possible stations.
For options that require patience, you can consider having the teams make 10 successful sand molds, if there is suitable dirt for the task, or have them fill a large receptacle with water using small buckets and a hose placed some distance away. Not difficult tasks, but time-consuming. The detour options should challenge the kids to think about which task they will be most successful at completing in the shortest amount of time. Once a judge has ruled the task complete, they’ll race back to the mat.
When they tear into their next clue, they’ll see a Road Block. The first card should ask them a question, such as, “Who’s good at building?” or “Who wants to make some jewels?” Once they decide which team member should perform the Road Block, they reveal the second card with the challenge rules.
For the building challenge, you can have a simple Lego construction that they must replicate using an individual kit. The challenge is that there will be no instructions, only a pre-constructed final product that they have to reference to build theirs successfully. Be sure to include a few extra pieces in their kits just to stump them.
For the jewels task, prepare small kits with a simple friendship bracelet pattern. Have them recreate the specific color pattern and weave shown on their task. It will require some patience and encouragement from their team member. Once a judge has ruled the task complete, they’ll race again back to the mat.
Once they’ve successfully completed the Road Block, they’ll retrieve their final clue. This can be a riddle that will direct them to a specific location or person where they must deliver their completed Lego construction or friendship bracelet. If the park has a statue, have them find it and tie their bracelet around its wrist before they race back to finish the leg!
The Finish Line (or Pit Stop)
If this is a one-leg race, the first team to make it back to the mat having successfully completed all their tasks will be announced the winners! Though they’re unlikely to win a million-dollar prize, have a small prize waiting for them so they can revel in their glory.
For those planning a race with two legs, make sure to use a clock and log the time each team took to arrive on the mat. In your best TV host voice, announce the position the team is currently in. For the last team to arrive, in a suspense-filled voice, dramatically announce that this is a non-elimination leg, and even though they’ll have a Speed Bump to contend with tomorrow, they still have just as much chance to win the race.
Depending on the times that work for the party, you can set the second leg to begin some time later. Now everyone gets to head to the Pit Stop. Here they can enjoy some pizza and ice cream and get some much-needed rest before they have to begin the next leg.
Your Time Starts Now
Each team will be given their departure time for the next leg of the journey. They’ll have to be on the mat to begin at the predetermined time.
Obviously requiring more preparation time, you’ll have to create a whole other leg, complete with new clues, tasks and challenges. Similar to the first, each team will have new Route Info, Detour and Road Block challenges. Remember that this leg’s Road Block must be completed by the team member who did not do the Road Block in the previous leg. This could complicate things a bit in a fun and competitive way.
When all’s said and done, the first team to arrive on the mat after successful completion of this second leg is the ultimate race winner. Make sure to reward them accordingly and let all the teams enjoy the satisfying feeling that they’ve accomplished quite a challenge.
To add a little authenticity, you can have a few of the children’s parents or some of your adult friends film the teams as they race to complete their tasks. As a special treat for the children, you can create a five-minute “show”, including the race highlights, for them to view at a later date. It will be as if they are actual reality TV stars!
Though it takes more planning and preparation than other treasure hunt ideas, creating an Amazing Race party for kids is guaranteed to give them a unique and fun experience like they’ve never had before.