Minecraft or Zombie Themed Treasure Hunt?

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You missed it.  The nine year old kids were running around the neighborhood shooting Nerf pellets at the paper Zombie targets.  Their map was marked with caches that held more ammunition. They scanned the ground for antidote to stuff in their sacks. They heard a distant (50 meters) blast from my horn and ran back to the safety zone for more instruction and another map.  They needed more clues to open the locked treasure chest.

zombie poster

The next day, in another town in the seacoast area of New Hampshire, I dropped blue/green glass stones around the houses of a small neighborhood.  Kids used my hand made map of the area to find clues and Ender Pearls.  They carried foam swords to fend off the Ender Dragons.  They were chased by Creepers (teenagers) and laughed as they hid behind a neighbor’s fence.  Their goal was to find enough Pearls to open the Portal.
Minecreaft Sword

No matter how you play it, though, it is all about the map.  These kids are learning to use a map with confidence while working together towards a common goal.  It isn’t a competition.  It isn’t a race.  It is fun and exciting and they are motivated by treasure, just like the rest of us.  Some may squirm with the idea of guns and swords, but it isn’t any different than cowboys and Indians, in the kids’ minds. They are playing, running outside and making friends.

Ultimate Treasure Hunts, LLC, likes to have fun and be creative. We can take your idea and turn into a treasure hunt.  Call us at 603 772 8772 and plan your fun day!

Treasure Hunt Birthday Parties Are Team Building Activities For Kids!

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So, your child’s birthday is approaching.  You look through the parenting magazines and local papers to find an entertaining activity.  Maybe you can get your child’s friends to a museum or to an indoor entertainment center. You know your daughter’s best friend’s parents will help you drive them. The kids will have fun. But will it be memorable? Hmmmm… How about a mall scavenger hunt?  Wait.  How do you supervise them? Who has the time to figure out where they will go and what they will do? Maybe the science parties are a good idea.  They are educational.  You won’t need to drive them anywhere. The kids sit in a circle and watch the young scientist perform.  They aren’t actually moving around much but they are learning.  How can you do something unique and memorable? It would be great to get the kids to interact and get to know the kids that aren’t necessarily in your daughter’s class. How about an Ultimate Treasure Hunts’ lively activity?  Kids run around in a supervised area while learning ad working together to solve a puzzle.  Everyone wins.  #uthunts   #ultimatetreasurehunts  #birthdaypartygame

We go to homes and venues all over the seacoast of New Hampshire and Maine, all around Boston and the North Shore.  We even travel to New York City to facilitate safe, interactive, exciting, physical and educational treasure hunts for all sized groups and every age.


Winter is fun for everyone!  Weather has never stopped us.  We come, first, to make the map.  It can be inside or outside or anywhere you like.  We go home and design the hunt to fit the age of the kids.  Mixed ages are great as they can work together to solve the final puzzle.  We have many themes or will create one to fit your child’s preferences.

Call us, today, for a great party! info@ultimatetreasurehunts.com   603 772 8772  We travel!!

Treasure Hunt History tours

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discover experience

Over the years, Ultimate Treasure Hunts, LLC, has developed new and exciting ways to attract the public to play map games.  The latest adventure is our UTHunts.com app tours. For many years, we used the text message application to move hunters around a town or a forest.  Participants used their phones to respond to questions and puzzles.  Now we have an app which eliminates the paper.  Only iOS hunters are using it at this point, but once we get the kinks out, the Android app will be announced.  Watch us expand, again, to get everyone to play together.  A Portsmouth, NH, history tour is LIVE.  We have also partnered with Portsmouth Eats to bring players huge discounts on local restaurant fare.  Buy a tour and start walking.


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A treasure hunt on a detailed and accurate map is an early lesson in orienteering. In Sweden, where orienteering is the national sport, hundreds of lessons for different skills and abilities become the framework for mandatory curriculum implementation. The national geographic Society has developed a roper Poll that is used every three years to determine international skills and abilities with maps. Sweden is at the top and American students are somewhere near the bottom. It is no coincidence.

Treasure Chest Peaks Island School bw

The object of an orienteering treasure hunt is for the entire group to find the key to the treasure chest. It starts with a fun, musical introduction with instructions about maps and how to ‘read’ a map. A room that comfortably seats everyone is the best way to start. Two classrooms can sit together in a regular sized room, and an all purpose room, a cafeteria or a gym is best for large groups. A large poster sized map is shown to make sure everyone understands the legend and how their school grounds are depicted. There is a lot of energy in the crowd as they get excited to get their maps and get started. Kids move in groups and work together to locate clues that will help them to discover the key. It is not a competition as everyone will find every clue. Maps provide a unique template for everyone to learn and have fun on.

It is not a scavenger hunt! They are not finding clues because they stumble across them or have decoded a verbal clue to take them to a place. They are looking at a map, turning it so it is a birds’-eye-view, and determining where to go next. Each group focuses on their own mission. To ‘watch’ or ‘follow’ another group would deter them from their task and right off, it becomes clear that what other groups are doing won’t help their team. They may even follow a group to a clue at the start, like people do, and feel like they gained something, yet when they look at their map, again, they discover that they aren’t sure where they are on the map. They have a new discussion and the followed group is gone. There is a wonderful analogy to following people without considering what is best for yourself that kids grasp because it is relevant to this game. It useful when they are pre-teens and need a thoughtful discussion about peers, too. All of the typical judgments of that age group: popularity, grades, money, sports, etc, also drop away as the focus of the hunt become their shared goal. Each person is important.

For K-3, the relevance of spatial awareness, observational skills and working together become paramount as they look around the area and find themselves on the map. They become more and more confident on the map as they actually find the clues and feel success. We have the kids pass the map to another group member at each clue so that everyone has a turn to lead. In smaller groups of 2-3, we have them each have a map, yet must stay together.

Once the clues are found; sweaty, happy, little treasure hunters return to the chest to see what to do next. There is a lot of noise as they describe how they found their clues and tell funny little stories. It can be completed outside or inside depending on the schools schedule and the size of the group. Any bit of light competition dissolves as they realize that each team’s information is needed to solve the puzzle and help them find the key. When they find the key, there is a unified squeal of success and they know the treasure is about to be revealed. The school is responsible for the treasure. It does not need to be of high monetary value. We see little bracelets, pencils, fruit snacks, ice cream vouchers for later, tootsie rolls (gluten free), and little sewn pirate bags of goodies from the parents.

As students become more proficient and confident on a map, using maps of the schools both inside and outside, the area and detail is expanded. Difficulty should be increased in small amounts so that all kids stay confident and wanting more. It isn’t true that some of us are navigationally challenged. What is true is that our early introduction to maps was neither easy nor fun enough. The treasure hunt leaves them ready for another map game because it is fun and rewarding as they grow a little bit more confident each time. The use of compass is obvious when they have no features to help navigate. Schoolyard maps teach them how to use all resources around them. In the US, navigation lessons have descended from our military to the scouts to teachers. Using a compass to triangulate or determine degrees for taking a bearing isn’t about the map! So, hold off on that compass and make sure kids love maps. Facilitate treasure hunts, relays, SCRABBLE-O, Time Line-O, Motalas, map making, and a plethora of other map games. Students will never be lost adults but will be leaders, instead!

Can you find it??

antique key 13

How do map and navigation games benefit groups?

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At first glance, an orienteering based Treasure Hunt appears as just another game. Music and fun are part of the introduction and the groups are tasked to find the key to the locked treasure chest. And if they do find that key, they will get treasure! It is a hard challenge to resist at any age or ability. A bit of light competition appears instantly, but it is not a race. An orienteering challenge in the guise of a treasure hunt crosses boundaries of ethnicity, life experience, academic ability, age, gender and personality. Kids help kids. Parents help kids. Kids help parents. New faces are integrated. Everyone wins.

Groups that do not often problem solve together in a fun atmosphere; office mates, students, and parents/kids all provide perfect examples of demographics that benefit from success while working together, learning something new, and being rewarded for their efforts.

An accurate and highly detailed map for the team to navigate with will bring out skills and abilities that highlight perception and spatial awareness. Team members unfamiliar with the campus or area will very quickly be comfortable and aware in a way that a tour cannot create. They are looking for a clue. They have to pay attention.

Questions and trivia that are light and simple provide an opportunity for participants to contribute to solving the final puzzle. Some clues are directed at younger members. Some clues are directed at the parents. The metaphor emerges very quickly that success requires everyone’s ability and everyone has something to contribute.
Running for Treasure

An orienteering treasure hunt also brings a group outside to walk and be physical. Kinesthetic learning happens naturally as they navigate a campus together, talk about the hunt and stay as a group. The weather may not perfectly cooperate and it becomes an adventure.

In the finale, it is quickly apparent that no one team will win, but rather all teams must come together to find the key. They are all winners. Everyone will receive a small reward to acknowledge their participation and the sharing of stories begins. Who found which clue? Who knew the right answer? Where did you get confused and how did you solve it? Who said that funny thing? I didn’t know you knew that song!

We now have a common experience. You can’t beat that!