How to Run a Photo Scavenger Hunt Using Avenza Maps

We are all about encouraging people to get outside and enjoy nature. A great way to do that is to plan an outdoor activity like a scavenger hunt! This is a fun activity that few adults and their children can participate while maintaining a physical distance of 2m from one another. In using the Avenza Maps app participants enjoy the added benefit of ensuring that participants don't lose their way during the event! Unlike a traditional scavenger hunt, that requires participants to collect items, this one has them collecting photos of places or objects in the area you choose. You'll encourage people to stay motivated during this time of self-isolation, use their navigation skills to explore new places (or well-known ones!) and you won't end up with a pile of useless items to dispose of at the end of it. All participants will need to download the Avenza Maps app onto a smartphone or a tablet with GPS capabilities and add a map before beginning the hunt. 

Family exploring outside

The Map

Find a free map of your scavenger hunt area in the Avenza Map Store. Share the map listing's URL or create a QR code that participants can use to download the map in the app. If you have your own georeferenced PDF map, use a cloud storage option such as Dropbox to share the map or email it for participants to import into the app. Encourage participants to set up a geofence in the app so that they stay within certain boundaries, or away from anything dangerous.  

The List     

Create a list of objects or places that you want participants to find. Make sure the list is achievable for your average participant, and that none of the items put participants in harm's way. Print the list, or provide it in an electronic format so that participants can have it handy on their devices. Here are some ideas to seed your imagination:

  • Find a tree that looks like...

  • Find a place where the trail leads in a certain direction

  • Find something that casts an unusual shadow

  • Maybe make your list of items educational:

  • Find a particular plant or flower species

  • Find an animal track

  • Go to a place, turn exactly 10° to the North and snap a picture

Or use your list to reinforce your organization's message:

  • Find something on the trail that needs repairing

  • Find something that marks a volunteer's efforts on the trail

  • Find a place where the trail has been damaged by extreme weather

Be specific, or leave the items open to interpretation:

  • Find evidence of the past

  • Find a place that makes you appreciate your surroundings

  • Find a place you could call home    


The Photos       

As participants find items on the list, they will take a photo using their device camera and plot it on the map in the app. Most smartphones phone and tablet cameras have a geotagging feature that records location information along with the photo. This makes photos easy to plot, creating a pin on the map where the attached photo was taken. Even without geotagging, photos can be easily attached to placemarks dropped on the map at the appropriate location. If your scavenger hunt is taking place in an area with network connectivity, encourage people to post photos and screenshots to a social media hashtag!        

The Finish        

Once participants have accomplished the list, they should return to a designated place to present their device with the populated map, for judging. Don't forget to ask permission to use the winning photos and maps in social media or other marketing to help promote your group or organization! Happy Scavenging!  


Avenza Map Store on a phone over a background of woman having fun outdoors