A New Type of Scavenger Hunt

Last weekend I tried out a new type of scavenger hunt.  Because of the technology we used, it would not have been possible a few years ago.  I thought I would share the details of it here on my blog for others to copy and improve upon.  Why would I simply give away my hard work?  Because many others have been generous to me in this way.  All I ask is that if you try this and successfully improve upon it in some way, leave a comment and tell us how you made it work better. I will call it the reverse bingo scavenger hunt.  Here is how it works.

First I went around town and took pictures of both public places and homes of church members.  If those things were obscure enough, then I left them as they were.  In other cases I cropped the context out of the pics.  For example, in one case I took a picture of a lake behind an apartment complex, that is completely beautiful and completely public, but there's no reason to assume that anyone in my youth group had ever seen it.  That photo I left intact.  But then I took a picture of just one panel of a window in a nearby school, or the back side of a sign, leaving very little contextual clues surrounding it.  Then I assembled the photos into a bingo board.  Here it is:

This was our bingo board

The reason I am calling it reverse bingo is because in normal bingo each player has a different board and everyone has the same numbers to cover it.  In this case there is only one board and the teams get their pieces separately.

I gave the teams a 10 second look at the board.  Then I provided them a handout with all the pictures printed on it, but not in any order.  I also gave them a sealed copy of the bingo board with instructions not to open it.  The sealed board was only to be opened when the teams were notified.  (My plan was to allow them to open it after 1.5 hours, or if it was obvious that no team was going to get a bingo.)

Now you see the challenge.  The teams knew how to get the pieces, but not where they fit on the board, only I knew that.

Here is a pic from one of our teams

Here's where the technology comes in.  Each team had a camera phone, and the email address of a flickr account and a twitpic account.  Their instructions were to take the same picture with one of the team members in it, then they send the pictures to the 2 addresses.  I would place a chip on their board as soon as I received it, and the first team to get a bingo was the winner.

The weak link was definitely with the phones and photo services.  Flickr worked perfectly.  However, twitpic was not up to the task; it only received the updates from one team.  (My hope was that twitpic would get the photos and twhirl would alert me when they arrived.  That plan was an epic fail) Another team had to switch to a new phone, because I was not receiving any updates from them.  After a couple of adjustments however, I was receiving photos from all teams.  Then it was jut a matter of covering the right square.  As soon as a team got a bingo I texted out bingo and they returned to the church.

Our church is in an urban environment and no picture was more than 6 miles from the starting point.  It took only abuot an hour to complete.