9 Free, Fun Church Scavenger Hunt Ideas for Youth & Kids

Scavenger hunts are a fun way to engage both kids and students at church. Kids and students love to compete and a scavenger is a great way to scratch that itch. Beyond that, scavenger hunts can be used to build camaraderie between the kids in your ministry. By playing a team game, where kids have to work together, they will bond in new ways. That is great for the culture of your ministry. Here are 9 free and fun church scavenger hunt ideas.  

How to Host a Scavenger Hunt 

We’ll start by addressing how a scavenger hunt should work. Scavenger hunts are activities where small groups of people seek items that they are told to find. 

They are given a list of clues and usually can’t progress to the next clue until they finish the first one. Team members of each small group must collaborate to create solutions, solve puzzles, and hustle to find the item that they are seeking to find. 

In many scavenger hunts, the first team starts at a different place in the hunt than the other team, so that the two groups don’t end up seeking the same item at the same time. 

How Scavenger Hunts Can Fit in a Sermon 

Scavenger hunts are a fun activity, but they can also be used as an illustration of a sermon. You can start your service with a scavenger hunt, then give a message about the theme of the scavenger hunt. There are a few sermons that a scavenger hunt might go well with. 

The first sermon that a scavenger hunt might fit well with is a sermon on Jeremiah 29:13 that says, “13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” If your students are anything like mine, they will be eager to compete and will work hard to seek better than the other team. They will seek with all their heart. You can use that as a metaphor for how we should seek God. 

The other sermon that you might be able to preach from the scavenger hunt activity is the message of community. Ecclesiastes 4:12 says, “A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken.”

Using this verse, you can communicate that working with other Christians helps us to achieve great things. Bonus points on this one if you make one group a five-person group and the other a one-person group. The five-person group should win, and it should show your point that the more people there are, the easier it is to win. 

Creative ways to make the scavenger hunt different

Although scavenger hunts are so much fun, without organization and a wow factor, they might not go as well as you’d like. It can be hard to come up with creative church scavenger hunt ideas, so we’ve got you covered. 

There are multiple ways to make a scavenger hunt a great activity for kids and students. Today, there are many variations on the age-old game of scavenger hunt. Here are a few of those: 

  • Use Bible Verses as Clues
  • Make it a Photo Scavenger Hunt 
  • Place Treasure as Each Hunting Sight 
  • Make the Scavenger Hunt Challenge Based 
  • Make the Scavenger Hunt in the Bible 
  • Give the Participants Puzzle pieces at each discovery site, and make them complete the puzzle to win.
  • Make the Hunting Ground Smaller 
  • Make the Hunting Ground Wider
  • Create a Fun Name for the Hunt

These are some really fun ideas, but let’s dive deeper into each one. That way, you will be able to execute it well and create a memorable scavenger hunt. 

A Scavenger Hunt with Bible Verses as Clues 

The first church scavenger hunt idea is to make the clues Bible verses. This ensures that the scavenger hunt is a fun activity, while still focusing on scripture. Sometimes churches focus too much on games, and not enough on scripture. Doing it this way makes it a perfect combination of both.

All you have to do is to find Bible verses with items in them that you have. Create the list, place the items, and send the scavengers on their way. To make the hunt easier, highlight the things that the seekers should be looking to find. Then, to make it harder, only give the seekers the Bible references. That way, the team who knows that Bible better has an advantage. They can find the clue faster. 

Here are a few examples of Bible verses the could be used as clues for your scavenger hunt. 

Bible Verse Clue Examples

* Matthew 16:19: “I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” [“Keys” – leave next clue either where you keep your car keys or on the piano keys if you have one.]

* Matthew 7:8 “For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.” [“Door” – leave the next clue on the front door.]

* Psalm 69:2: “I sink in the miry depths, where there is no foothold. I have come into the deep waters; the floods engulf me.” [“Sink” – leave the next clue in the kitchen sink]

* 1 Kings 17:19: “”Give me your son,” Elijah replied. He took him from her arms, carried him to the upper room where he was staying, and laid him on his bed.” [“Bed” – leave the next clue under a bed]

There are even more examples of clues for a Bible-based scavenger hunt at this link. 

Photo Scavenger Hunts 

The second way that you can upgrade your scavenger hunt is to have students take pictures of items, instead of collecting the physical item. Allow seekers to use their cell phone to collect photos of the items they are seeking. 

This idea is great if you only have one of each item. You won’t have to be worried about the seekers taking too many of the items they are seeking to confuse the next group. 

It is also good on this one to send the list of clues to the seekers, that way their item collection and item list are both on their phones. 

Once the seekers return, you can check their photos and declare them the winners. This variation of the scavenger hunt is fun because it combines the classic nature of a scavenger hunt with the tech of today. 

A Treasure Hunt Scavenger Hunt

The third idea for a scavenger hunt is to have “treasure” at each collection site. “Treasure” could be a snack, wearable item, or something else. If the treasure is a snack, they will be able to eat it whenever they complete their hunt. 

If the treasures are wearable items, make them present themselves with all of the articles of clothing on. Oversized sweatshirts, fake jewelry, hats, glasses, and belts are all funny things that you can make the team members wear. 

By making the items that the seekers are looking for things that they would want, it makes the activity more fun. They would want the things anyway, plus, they get a benefit from finding them. 

A Challenge-Based Scavenger Hunt 

The next scavenger hunt idea is to make the scavenger hunt challenge-based. Scavenger hunts can become boring if they are too easy, but you can make the scavenger hunt have challenges seekers must pass to get the item they are seeking. 

Create challenge stations, and have your youth leaders stand at each station to monitor the kids progress. If the activity is too difficult have the leaders help them out. It should be a challenge, but it shouldn’t be impossible. 

Once the team completes the challenge, have the youth leader give the team their item and the next clue. 

Challenges You Can Use for the Challenge-Based Scavenger Hunt

  1. Blindfolded Human Knot 

Blindfold the team, and make them circle up. Have them reach out and grab another team member’s hand. Have the team try to untie themselves, and once they do so, take the blindfolds off. 

  1. Gutterball

Cut PVC pipe in half, and cut it into multiple segments. Make the team roll a golf ball along it, without dropping the ball. Make them transfer the ball from segment to segment. Once they go 60 feet doing this, give them the prize and continue on. 

  1. Minefield

Throw balls all of the floor, and blindfold the players. Make the team members cross from one side of the room to the other without touching the balls. If they touch the balls, they have to start over. Don’t have one of the players blindfolded, and allow them to talk to their teammates about where to step next. Once everyone is across the minefield, they can collect their item and continue. 

An Easter Scavenger Hunt 

If you are doing it around Easter time, consider doing an Easter egg hunt. Easter egg hunts are a festive and fun way to give prizes to kids. 

Hide hundreds of eggs and let the kids seek them out. You can even give an extra prize to the kid who collected the most eggs. 

Money, chocolates, and starbursts are all things that you can put in the eggs. As far as tying it into a message, you should have some empty eggs that symbolize Jesus’s empty tomb. 

Bible Verse Scavenger Hunt

Another scavenger hunt that you can do is to create a Bible Verse scavenger hunt. Give each player a sheet of paper with Bible verses on it, but remove one word from each verse. When you say, have the players look up the Bible verses and fill in the blank. Give a prize to the person who finishes first. 

Doing this activity can help players to learn where the books of the Bible are in the Bible. If you want to make it easier, have a portion for the Old Testament, and a portion for the New Testament. 

A Jigsaw Puzzle Scavenger Hunt 

A Jigsaw Puzzle Scavenger hunt is another fun idea you can try out. Give the teams a list of clues and send them to seek. At each collection site, have them collect the item and a puzzle piece. 

Once they are done with their hunt, they must go back to the starting point and assemble their puzzle. (Make them lose points if they start the puzzle early.) The team that collects all the pieces and finishes the puzzle first will be the winning team. 

In this variation, it is extra fun, because there is a final challenge that they must complete: the puzzle. A team might return to the starting point first, but if they don’t finish the puzzle, they’ll lose. 

How To Make Is Fun for Younger Children

One way to make the hunt more fun for younger kids is to make the hunting area smaller. Young children might have a hard time deciphering clues, so making all of the items in their visual might make it more fun for them.

If one room is too small, you might want to consider using two rooms. The youth room and the kid’s room combined might be enough space without being too overwhelming. 

How To Make it Fun For Older Children 

Scavenger hunts are a great way to have fun. Old kids will love this youth activity, especially because they are more competitive. High school students don’t want to be confined. 

To make the older kids hunt more fun, expand the hunting ground. You can make the hunting ground the entire church campus if you’d like. That way the students have to quickly run across campus to collect different items. 

Fun Names for a Church Scavenger Hunt 

One way to make the scavenger hunt more fun for both kids and teens is to give it a cool name. Here are some fun names as church scavenger hunt ideas. 

  1. Amazing G-race – a play on the words “Amazing Grace” 
  2. Hebrews and Hunting Clues 
  3. Seek and You Shall Find 
  4. 12 Spies 
  5. Exodus the Building 
  6. Seek Jesus 
  7. Zachhaeus’ Sought Scavenger Hunt 
  8. Holy Smokes Scavenger Hunt 
  9. Holy Moly Scavenger Hunt