"Safety first!" photo submission during a Compass Outdoor at-home scavenger hunt. Photo courtesy of Compass Outdoor Adventures
Remember when we were always dashing about to work, preschool, the grocery store, soccer practice and ballet class — and we just longed for chill time at home with our kids? This wasn't quite what we imagined, was it?
We all need something to take our minds off our current stressful reality — and shake up all the together time, too.
So how about this: Spend a couple of hours racing around your house, tapping into teamwork and creativity and laughing with your kids?
Enter Compass Outdoor Adventures, a local company providing engaging competitions where family teams complete missions at home. You could call it a scavenger hunt, but it's more than that. And I can tell you firsthand, it's fun and a very welcome break from this new reality we're all in.
Compass is also offering weekday learning adventures for kids, starting today! More on that in a sec.
How the scavenger hunts work
Families register for a session (it's currently free), download a free app called Goosechase, name your team and get ready. When the scavenger hunt begins at the designated time, the Goosechase app reveals a long list of missions worth a varying number of points. To complete challenges, families snap and submit a photo, record and submit a short video or answer a trivia question, all through the app. (I'm not super techie and I found the app easy to use).
Some missions are labeled "Kids only" and should be completed by kids. Family teams can pick any challenge that looks fun and get creative!
So what are the missions like? These examples from recent games will give you an idea:
- "Make like a bunny and play a game of hopscotch. Use chalk and do it in your driveway or tape squares inside." Record and submit a short video of your game using the app for 1000 points.
- "Show us your best and most creative hiding spot. It could be high, low, hidden or just plain sneaky. Bonus points if you can blend into the scenery." Snap and submit a photo using the app for 1000 points.
- "Snap a photo of the one item that has saved your sanity the most during this quarantine." Submit your photo for 1000 points. (Side note: My family team submitted a photo of our puppy Fergus for this mission, though I considered a photo of Trader Joe's salt and vinegar potato chips. Tough call.)
- Trivia challenges for 500 points in recent games included questions such as "Hg is the chemical symbol of which element?" and "Who was the leader of the wolves in 'The Jungle Book'"?
If your family is competitive, you can dive into the missions with the goal of amassing points — and there are prizes. The app will show you how you're doing compared with other teams. In our first game, my 11-year-old son spotted a challenge worth 5000 points and quickly went about designing, building and playing a new board game of his own creation.
But families less interested in competition can also have fun, selecting missions that sound the most appealing or creative.
The next Compass Outdoor at-home family scavenger hunt is scheduled for Saturday, April 18, 1–3 p.m. PDT. Families can compete from anywhere in the world. (Be sure to preregister.) Compass plans to keep them coming each weekend. Games are currently free, but donations are welcome. Check Facebook for ongoing updates.
New weekday “Compass camp” for kids
Compass Outdoor Adventures owner Luke Talbott launched the at-home family scavenger hunts just three weeks ago, pivoting his business from outdoor corporate team building events. Today he adds a weekday scavenger hunt designed to occupy elementary kids for a couple of hours at home.
You've got to hand over your phone for kids to play, but you're unlikely to hear any whining while the game is on. (Worth it!)
There's one scavenger hunt offered each week, available weekdays from 2–4 p.m. west coast time (PDT) or 2–4 p.m. east coast time, which translates to 5–7 p.m. local Seattle time. These are the two times offered, but kids can take part from anywhere. The kids' hunt costs $25 and you'll want to preregister for your desired day and time slot.
Talbott's background includes many years as a fifth-grade teacher and kids' summer camp provider. More recently, his company provided corporate teambuilding events — often scavenger hunts, but outdoors rather than at home. He said his business was doing well in early 2020. Then the coronavirus hit and his business "totally evaporated," he said, and he had to lay off his staff.
This pandemic is prompting creativity in lots of ways, and Talbott used some to pivot his business to providing at-home fun for families. The second scavenger hunt, which took place on April 4, had some 1000 family teams competing! The volume of submissions crashed the system, but things like increased capacity and preregistration with a cap on participants have fixed that issue.