When we wrapped up our inaugural meeting of the Daring Boys Club the boys were asked to tell us a few things that they would like to do during the club meetings. They had a lot of great ideas about electricity and basketball, but the one that I heard loud and clear was scavenger hunt.
We met at my house after school on a Thursday afternoon and had a snack of carrots, cucumbers, pretzels and hummus. The boys showed up with a big appetite and lots of enthusiasm for our planned scavenger hunt.
I had prepared a few quick lessons about reading a map, using a compass and using a cipher wheel. I introduced the essential parts of a map; the legend, the compass rose. We talked about landmarks to help orient where you are on a map, which led to a great conversation about how landmarks are not just anything you see lying around, but more permanent objects.
Next, we talked about compasses. I had drawn a diagram of a compass on a large sheet of paper so we could review the parts and talk about how to line up the red needle with the ‘N’ on the rotating wheel. The last of my tutorials was about the cipher wheel. We established our cipher key and talked about words like “encrypt” and “decipher.” With a little help, all the boys worked together to decipher a phrase I had encrypted for them. Once the tutorials were completed I had one more activity for the boys to complete. I randomly distributed maps of the first floor of my house each with a color dot in a specific spot. I asked them to use the landmarks on the map to orient themselves and they did a great job. I was really nervous that the tutorial portion would not go as quickly as I hoped, but the boys were attentive and asked great questions.
With the help of a few other parents we broke up into 3 groups of 3 Daring Boys (plus a few siblings). Each group was armed with maps of the park, a compass, a cipher wheel, a pencil, a camera, a small clipboard and a set of clues. We walked over to the park and broke out into our groups to set off on our adventure.
The clues were broken out into four locations. The boys had to navigate to each location with their map. Once they found the spot, they had to use the compass to figure out the direction of another landmark close by. Each group had to take a picture at each location; this part was mostly so we could document the fun we were having.
Hidden at each location was a shiny black rock, but the hint about where the rock was hidden was encrypted. The boys had to decipher the clue and find the rock. Everybody got a turn using the map, compass and cipher wheel.
It took us all about an hour to complete the scavenger hunt and get back to the house for a quick wrap-up with the boys before they were picked up or whisked off to baseball practice.
The response was really positive from the boys and the parents. The boys were told that if they worked on the skills they learned at home that they could earn a carabiner with a compass. Each of the group leaders talked about what the boys did well during the hunt.
I was really pleased with the level of enthusiasm and cooperation from all the boys.