Hunt The Spy Scavenger Hunt

Hunt The Spy scavenger hunt
Looking good sir, looking good

Before we start, a word of warning. When taking part in this game, don’t dress up in a Mrs Santa Claus costume on the hottest day in history, in the hottest part of the country. You’ll just end up with red felt all over you from sweating so much.

Not that I did this of course – I’m just talking hypothetically. Maybe.

A Hunt The Spy Scavenger Hunt is actually two games in one – Hunt The Spy and a Scavenger Hunt.

Hunt The Spy

Take your youth to a mall and have them find you and all your volunteers. The twist is that all the leaders are dressed up in disguise (I may have given that away somewhat with the intro!)

This works best if there are a mixture of disguises. Some should be ridiculous (gorilla outfits, Santa Claus, etc), while others should be more “normal” (sitting on a bench hidden behind a newspaper, hoodie and sunglasses covering the face, etc).

Each spy has a codeword that they give to the youth once they’ve been found – this proves at the end of the game how many spies each youth has found. In order to be given the codeword though, the young people have to say a set phrase to the spy. Make sure it’s something fun and goofy, like “Teapot, teapot, lemonade, lemonade” or “The penguin flies at midnight straight into the arms of the snake”.

Depending on how many volunteers you’ve got taking part, this youth work game could be over pretty quickly. To make it last longer, add in a……

Scavenger Hunt

Seeing as you’ll be around shops, give the youth a list of tasks they have to complete relating to the retail outlets. Tasks could include:

  • Count how many benches are outside Macy’s
  • Have your photo taken with the manager of a store
  • What color is the 30% off sign in the window of Gap?
  • How many different places are there to eat in the food court?
  • Start at Old Navy. Take 37 steps forward, 5 sidesteps to the right, 17 steps backwards, 23 sidesteps left, turn 90 degrees to the left, walk forward 17 steps and turn left – what store are you looking at?

Here are some additional tips for planning a Hunt The Spy Scavenger Hunt:

  • Size – Depending on how many young people you have, this youth work game can be done with youth going round separately, in pairs or in groups
  • Organization – If possible, have most (or all) of the volunteers get to the mall before the youth arrive, so they can get in place. If you have volunteers who bring the youth to the mall, they should have disguises they can change in to quickly
  • Resources – Give each youth/pair/group a notepad and pen so that they can write down all the codewords, as well as a worksheet if doing a scavenger hunt
  • Camera – Make sure youth are aware they’ll need one of these if you include taking photos as part of the scavenger hunt (they’ll almost definitely have one on their phone anyway)
  • Be creative – Encourage your volunteers to use their imagination with their disguises. On a camp where we played Hunt The Spy, one of the leaders persuaded a coffee shop to let him wear their apron and cap and cleared tables for them for a couple of hours. No one found him (including his two sons!)
  • Boundaries – Set outer limits for the activity. In a shopping mall this is easy – just advise the youth to stay inside. If it’s a high street or other outdoor area, give outer limits that youth should stay within. Make sure you also advise the other volunteers of these same boundaries, so they don’t go somewhere the youth can’t find them!

If you liked this idea, check out our other scavenger hunt ideas. You may also like our book that has dozens of these activities, complete with lists of items that you can give to all the players. Get your copy of 52 Scavenger Hunt Ideas now!

Question: What disguise would you wear when playing Hunt The Spy? Let us know in the comments below.

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  • Bryan

    We do “Hunt the Spy”, although we call it “Where’s Waldo?” One rule we have is that the Waldo’s can be in the stores. Otherwise the youth would have to spend way too much time in the stores looking for people, and that’s sometimes a disruption. A codeword once was “Are you my mommy?” A few youths walked up to a big biker dude in a leather jacket. “Surely, this has to be someone in disguise.”……Nope.

    • Stephen

      Hahaha – love it! I think I might have to include the “Are you my mommy” line next time :)