One of the things I love about summer programming in a small town is that I can do programs that involve the teens running around the neighborhood. Anything that gets them out and about (and wears them out) is a good thing, and if I can incorporate something they already use all the time – their phones – then I’m golden.
I remember doing photo scavenger hunts back in the olden days when I was a teen. Our scavenger hunts involved Polaroid cameras, which you could still use if you wanted to, but aren’t completely necessary. All you really need is some willing teens, some fully charged devices, and a list of items to take pictures of.
I warned my teens in advance that they would want a phone, tablet, camera, or other picture-taking item to use. Really, it’s only necessary to have one device per group, and since the internet wasn’t needed for this project, I didn’t mind asking them to bring their phones. The teens met with me in our programming room, I explained the time limits, the rules, and the list of items, and I sent them on their way. When time was up, we looked through all the pictures, calculated the points, and declared a winner. Afterward, when the winners had been announced and snacks had been acquired, the teens were more than happy to chat with each other and look at their silly pictures from the night.
Pictures: There are dozens upon dozens of scavenger hunt lists online. I took one and whittled it down to include a reasonable list of items that gives enough variety and also provides a challenge to our teens. Some lists include various levels of points – pictures that are worth fifty points, others worth one hundred points, etc. etc. I kept it simple and left the point level for all pictures the same. I omitted any picture ideas that involved things that were dangerous or mocked other people; it’s completely possible for the teens to have a good time without making fun of others or putting themselves in danger.
Rules: I know my teens can act like reasonable human beings, but just like adults, teens occasionally need reminders about what that looks like. I did not allow them to drive for this scavenger hunt, and I specifically mentioned not doing anything illegal, not stepping on other people’s property without permission, and not causing disturbances in any businesses. For example, if they wanted to do the picture involving Burger King crowns, I didn’t mind if one of them quietly went in and asked for a couple of crowns and left, but I didn’t want them to bother the employees of the store.
Adjustments: Can’t let the teens run around the neighborhood? Could you do this as an after-hours program in the library itself? Could you have a meetup at a local park or mall and do the activity there? There are lots of ways to work around the idea of running about a small town, and the teens will love that you gave them an opportunity to do what they already like to do – take silly pictures and share them with each other.