Think back to when you were a kid. Do you have memories of hunting Easter Eggs? Do you have memories of “discovering” what candy you had in your sack after Halloween? Do you remember the excitement of opening presents at Christmas? Did you ever get with your friends and go on “treasure hunts?” Perhaps you heard a story of a buried chest of bank robber’s loot. Perhaps it was a pirate treasure. Or, like in my case, the Lost Dutchman Mine.
Kids love a treasure hunt. They love discovery. They love finding something hidden. Why not take advantage of that natural drive and curiosity and provide them an opportunity to develop their imagination, dedication to purpose, critical thinking skills, and sense of determination by getting them involved in Treasure Hunting.
The type of hunt and the type of treasure should be geared to their age and interest. Hiding a “treasure” of goodies, toys, and trinkets somewhere around the house for younger kids can instill the desire to get and stay involved. A starting clue found in an old book leading to other clues hidden in the house, leading ultimately to the cache is exhilarating.
Older kids can be given their own metal detector for use on a family outing to a nearby park or picnic area. When old enough, provide a few books and magazines with stories of “real” treasures lost or buried near your home, and make a family plan to “go after it.” Once they have the treasure hunting bug, you’ll see they will be much more interested in planning and preparing for the next outing, and less inclined to be “idle,” which we all know can lead to some ‘less than desirable’ activities.
Treasure hunting does not just have to be about lost & buried treasures, though. Gold panning (or nugget shooting, or sniping, or mossing, or sluicing, or high banking, or dredging), bottle hunting, rock hounding, even just walking around old ghost towns can spark that sense of curiosity and wonder that can develop into a life-long passion for “the hunt.”
How to get started? Show an interest yourself. Have a couple of books laying around that you’re reading that have treasure hunting stories and activities in them. Ask them if they have ever heard of a nearby “treasure.” Ask if their friends have ever spoken of it. Ask them to read the story and see if they come to some same conclusions as you. Start preparing to look for it yourself and involve them in the preparations. The more interest you show, the more likely they are to generate an interest themselves.
And that’s the idea.
Get them to generate their own interest; their own desire to ‘go for it.’ When out on your first expedition, make it a tangible ‘good time’ they can remember, even if it’s just going out for burgers and shakes on the way back. Talk about ‘the next time,’ and what you’ll do differently to get closer to finding it. Generate some anticipation for the ‘next trip.’ Treasure Hunting (in all its forms) is a great family recreation that can generate memories that last a life time. And, who knows, perhaps you’re raising the next Mel Fischer that will discover a long-lost cache of unimaginable wealth. There is no better time to start than right now!