Treasure Vs. Scavenger Hunts

by Zach Lazzari
Treasure is hidden at a single location.

Treasure is hidden at a single location.

Hemera Technologies/ Images

The treasure hunt and scavenger hunt both require participants to locate objects, but the games function on different levels. Both games are common forms of entertainment for adults and kids at parties and gatherings. The difference between the two games is obvious in the instructions and the way they are played.


The objectives for each game are similar because the participants must locate a hidden object or objects. Scavenger hunts involve multiple objects and tell you exactly what the objects are in advance. The treasure hunt relies on a series of clues to locate the single hiding place of the treasure. The treasure hunt also does not reveal the prize until it is located. Speculation is common, but the actual item or items located at the treasure site are a mystery.


The scavenger hunt is a more flexible game because common items are used in a race to fulfill the list. Any number of items or themes can be adapted to the scavenger hunt. The treasure hunt provides a small level of flexibility but most commonly has a pirate or Western theme. The treasure hunt is more complex and requires advanced planning to build a map with clues, obstacles and, ultimately, a buried or otherwise hidden treasure.


The treasure and scavenger hunts are executed in solo or team settings. Teams are the most common because the games are designed as competitive, social events. Small teams with less than five people are ideal for mobility and coordination. Too many people in a group slows down the process while small groups are capable of running in an efficient manner. The participants are motivated to compete because a prize is waiting at the end of the treasure hunt. The objects gathered in a scavenger hunt are typically everyday items, and competition is driven by the simple desire to beat the other teams.


The treasure hunt and scavenger hunt both require planning to run smoothly and to avoid disturbing others. The treasure hunt map and clues require planning based on the age group of the participants. Treasure hunts for small children should be planned for a backyard space, while teenagers and adults may enjoy a neighborhood-wide hunt. The scavenger hunt also requires attention to space, with more obvious objects in a small area being ideal for children. Teenagers and adults are capable of seeking items in a larger area, but rules must be applied to avoid trespassing and disturbing the neighbors.

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