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Game of the Month: The Endlessly-Adaptable Scavenger Hunt

This month we’re featuring a broad genre of games, rather than a specific game with set rules: we’re highlighting the ever-adaptable SCAVENGER HUNT!

For our spring leagues in the midst of race season, a scavenger hunt can be a great mid-week change to your practice routine. It can make a trail system that you’ve ridden dozens of times feel like a new experience. A scavenger hunt or full-team on-trail game can break up race prep or help your athletes take a rest after a weekend of racing.

When crafted intentionally, these activities can build camaraderie among student-athletes, allow for mixed-ability rider groupings, and provide an awesome experience for those who love a good adventure. They’re also just plain fun. 

Here are a few ideas for how to facilitate a scavenger hunt type activity for your team. The variations and possibilities are endless – so use your creativity and passion to craft a game that works well for your team/practice venue!

  • Scrabble on the Trail: Grab letters from a Scrabble board game and randomly mix them into small bags. Place the bags at waypoints throughout your trail system/venue (see below about asking for permission to do this first!) – teams work to plan a route to visit the waypoints, where they can collect 1-2 letters per stop. Teams collect as many scrabble pieces as possible so they can form a high-scoring word. You can add progressions and parameters to these rules (i.e. you have to visit at least three way points before you can repeat a visit, etc.)
    Requires some advanced planning w. # of tiles/letters, a coach who can set them up at various waypoints, etc. plus a list of the waypoint locations. 
  • Poker Party: Same concept as above, but instead of Scrabble tiles, use a deck of playing cards. The team collects one card from each waypoint until they have 5 cards, with the goal to create the best possible poker hand. 
  • Puzzle Mania: Create a fun, custom team-based puzzle; cut apart the pieces and have riders collect a piece at various points throughout your practice. OR – use a small, easy kids puzzle (25 pieces or less)
  • Bingo: Create a bingo card for your team/practice venue. You can include landmarks, random objects, have riders complete an activity, etc. Each activity can take place at a different location on the trail.
  • Photo scavenger hunt: Have teams take selfies or photos of objects/landmarks at various places. So many options for creativity here! Have kids spell out “NICA” or “BIKE” using only their bodies or bikes. Collect the photos and share them at your next practice!

As with all of our NICA activities, safety is our FIRST priority. It is also incredibly important to be good stewards of our trails and the places we ride. If you are planning a scavenger hunt that involves leaving something in a location for student-athletes to find, communicate this with your local trail steward or land manager and get permission first. Items that you use should never be a danger or distraction to other trail users. Clean up after your activity immediately. When in doubt, use a scavenger hunt activity that requires NO extraneous materials (i.e. a photo scavenger hunt) – this can also ease the work that goes into planning/setting up your activity.

There are so many different variations and ways you can subtly tweak the parameters of your scavenger hunt to create experiences that are 1) inclusive of all of your student-athletes and 2) create a sense of community among riders who may not always have the chance to interact with one another during a typical practice. The sky's the limit! 

Share your scavenger hunt ideas and experiences so we can showcase them at The Trailhead!



Click to see more NICA games at The Trailhead!

NICA's entire collection of on- and off-the-bike games are available in full PDF form in the NICA Coach Resources. To access the coach resources, log into Pit Zone and click the “Courses, Resources, & Benefits” button. Use the resource links on the dashboard, or the search function at the top of the screen.