Community & Current Events

How to create a fun treasure hunt for the kids

© Author: Canadian Living Credits: ©

Community & Current Events

How to create a fun treasure hunt for the kids

It has been years since I walked the Treasure Trail. But the occasional sharp rattle of a mysterious object being sucked into the vacuum cleaner reminds me of the gems and jewels that we found there.

Vacuuming up treasures was once a common occurrence in my home. They were littered everywhere: bottle caps, pieces of quartz, dollar-store finds and an assortment of coins under couch cushions, in my sock drawer and in the cat's litter box. These ubiquitous gems became such a nuisance that I often took handfuls and threw them out the back door just to get rid of them.

Treasure hunters
My two sons have always been serious treasure hunters. When they were preschoolers, we lived in Kingston, Ont., a city that was, at the time, continually under construction. The earth was abundant with shiny quartz crystals and “artifacts” from people past. Each freshly dug basement hole represented an adventurous “X” on my sons' imaginary treasure map.

The boys and the neighbourhood sprouted up together until, eventually, construction came to an end. Houses were complete, lawns were laid and roads were paved. Prime excavation sites were lost in the name of progress.

I was sad. I longed for the excitement of the hunt. But most of all, I missed hearing the theories that my boys' discoveries inspired. To them, quartz crystals were fragments of far-off planets and asteroids. An old beer bottle cap came from a pirate's drink. A dusty shard of glass was a remnant of pioneer tableware, and plain brown rocks were fossilized dinosaur poop. Nothing was ordinary.

I missed the fun of it all, so (please don't tell my boys) I tricked them.

Creating a hunt
I bought some fake rocks -- those little pieces of coloured glass you find in your local dollar store -- and hid them along a path that ran through our community. While out walking with the kids, I pretended to find one. Then they found one, then another. The hunting began in earnest once again.

The boys shared the magic with other kids. I shared my secret with other parents. And soon the trail became a busy place where moms and dads met to chat and children worked together to solve the mystery.

Some kids mused that generous fairies must have dropped the treasures in the secret of night. Other children were more science-minded, linking the phenomenon to cosmic causes and chemical reactions in the local soil. The possibility of alien involvement was also discussed. The theorizing was endless. Sadly, the novelty of the trail was not.

Still hunters
As they do old shoes, my sons outgrew the Treasure Trail. Their many jewels and gems (the ones that escaped being sucked up in housecleaning) were counted, sorted and packed into storage boxes for our move to our new home in Dartmouth, N.S.

My sons are still avid hunters, gatherers and collectors. Only now they search for shells and driftwood along the shore and vaguely remember the magical trail that instilled in them such a joyful sense of wonder and discovery.

If you search for them, you can still find gems and jewels in our home. (Hint: Try the fish tank.) They are souvenirs of our days together on the Treasure Trail and remind me that, in life, there is always something to search for, discover and hold dear in your heart.

For more camping tips, expert advice and guides to some of the best campgrounds in Canada, visit our guide to the great Canadian outdoors.

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Community & Current Events

How to create a fun treasure hunt for the kids