Maps & Treasure Hunts!

Parents: find a leader for an activity below. You can also find and reach out to a Maps & Treasure Hunts Leader and let the leader recommend activities to do.

Level 1 - Cap'n Ruff's Map (Intro to maps at the Lafayette Reservoir)

Learn the concepts of a map and how to navigate with one. For a fun twist, find Cap'n Ruffs hidden booty.

Activity Details
Instructions

Use a basic map to navigate from one landmark to another.

Families near Lamorinda are encouraged to print the simplified map of the Lafayette Reservoir & practice navigating to landmarks on the map. Example: Opening/closing circle area to Crafts Tree to Sports Field.

Spice up the activity by following a scavenger hunt which takes them to another landmark on the map.

For extra fun, have a treasure (stickers, friendship bracelet string, etc.) to find at the end.

For yet another twist, have the child draw a map of their neighborhood or somewhere they're familiar with.

Supplies
  • * A map of a local park or area you can explore. Lamorinda residents can print the Lafayette Reservoir Map in the references below.
  • * (Optional) "Treasure" such as stickers, beads, lanyard string...
  • * (Optional) Paper & colored pencils if making your own maps
Reference Links

Leader Prep: Plant scavenger clues and or treasure ahead of time if running this activity like a treasure hunt.

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Level 1 - Compass Basics (Compass Treasure Hunt Game)

Grow your basic compass skills with a local treasure hunt.

Compass Treasure Hunt familiarizes kids with how to use compass directions to follow clues in a fun treasure hunt!

Activity Details
Instructions
  • Teach the basics of using a compass, "Fred in the Shed," and following an azimuth.
  • Once the child understands the basics, go to the starting point and give them their first clue (e.g. 63 degrees).
  • The child then uses their compass to walk the azimuth until they find the next clue, usually taped to a landmark along the azimuth.
  • Readjust the compass, and follow the next clue.
  • After a few clues, the last clue leads them to the "treasure."
Supplies
  • Treasure (stickers, friendship bracelet string, pony beads, etc.)
Equipment
  • Compass

Leader Prep: Leader should hide the clues along the route ahead of time.

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Level 2 - Topo Maps

Topographical (Topo) maps are great for older campers to expand their map reading skills.

Sometimes the fastest route isn't always a straight line. Campers will learn to recognize important topographical features such as hills, valley, and ridgelines.

Activity Details
Instructions

Use a local map if you have one and go exploring. Below is a topo of the Lafayette Reservoir for local families to print.

One way to set this up is to stage a clue (such as a series of letters which spell a word) at identifiable locations on the topo map. After they've collected all the letters, they unscramble the word to reveal the location of the treasure.

This activity is very similar to the Intro to Maps activity (Cap'n Ruff's Map). Use a topo map & slightly increase the distance between clues to challenge older campers.

And hey, even older campers still enjoy the imagination of a story to accompany the map- so get creative about it's origins!

Supplies
  • Local topo map. Feel free to print the Lafayette Reservoir map in the links below.
  • (Optional) Clues, such as letters written on cardboard or construction paper.
  • (Optional) Yarn might be necessary to tie lightweight items like construction paper to a tree to keep from blowing away.
  • (Optional) Treasure such as stickers, friendship bracelet string, lanyard string, etc.
Equipment
  • (Optional) You might consider building a small cardboard topo model of a hill and/or valley beforehand to help demonstrate. Even a 4"x4" will help significantly.
  • Example of cardboard topography
Reference Links

Leader Prep: Mark places on the map where you want the camper to locate and hike to. Be sure to have hiked the area yourself to gauge how much time the route will take. If running this like a scavenger hunt, be sure to set out the clues ahead of time. You might consider building a small cardboard topo model of a hill and/or valley to help demonstrate topo lines.

Child Prep: Best for ages 10+ Solid understanding of beginner map reading

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Level 3 - Orienteering

Follow the footsteps of great expedition leaders and combine maps & compasses into a single ultimate quest!

Whether you are looking to just have some local fun, or if you dream about exploring the wilderness by foot, boat, or dogsled, orienteering is the culmination navigational skills.

Activity Details
Instructions

Best for ages 12+

Equipment
  • Compass
  • Local topographical map

Child Prep: Fully competent in compass basics. Basic to intermediate skills in topographical navigation

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