The Treasure Hunt

"Your heart is where your treasure is, and you must find your treasure in order to make sense of everything. " --Paulo Coelho

One of the fondest memories I have from our Summer in France in 2015 is the opportunity to finally make this wishful thinking come true. 

A treasure hunt.

My husband ordered 2 compasses online to be delivered at his parents' house
This idea came to my husband while he was mistakenly taken away from us more than a year ago. I remember us talking about it together during my short once-a-week visits to him. It sometimes served as a diversion from all the heaviness and darkness whenever we still had a few minutes left during his limited phone calls. It left a positive feeling, a promise of the future together as a family far far away. We brainstormed together and the planning of it emotionally helped us during a very very dark time  in our lives. 

I am grateful to God for giving us a chance to make this a reality. When the trial was over and we were able to claim our lives back, my husband planned and envisioned how my niece and nephew were going to play it. This meant that we would spend a long summer in France to be with the family before finally moving to the Philippines.

Designing The Treasure Hunt

The goal was for both of them to develop team work. We designed it in such a way that they have to learn to work together. Not against each other, but using both of their strengths and skills while making up for each other's weaknesses in pursuing their goal, to find all the clues.  Oceane is good in reading, while Mahe is familiar with the forest.

Additionally, we wanted them to learn to read coordinates, to appreciate the beauty of nature and to enjoy the treasure hunt outdoors.

Yohann's Dad made the box himself. We used our luggage lock for the kids to guess the code.
We filled it with goodies we found in the supermarket

The Location & Preparation

We sought ways to prepare the treasure hunt in different places. It was important that my niece, Oceane and nephew, Mahe, have absolutely no information whatsoever about the treasure hunt. It should begin as an invitation to learn how to read a compass.

1. Parents' house  - the place where they learned how to read a compass
2. Grandpa's Vegetable Garden - where the first clue was hidden. Ironically, it's also where the treasure was buried. 
3. Le Bois Saint- Jean - the forest where all of the clues / coordinates are hidden. 

We visited the place twice. The first visit, I selected trees in Le Bois St. Jean and took pictures of them for sketching. I sketched each one and named them after different fairy tales.

I drew sketched clues of the exact trees they needed to look for in the forest
Check out individual tree artwork sketches here

The second visit just hours before the hunt was spent to hide the clues in their respective locations according to the coordinates and number of steps.

Here’s how the day activity went

1. Yohann taught Oceane and Mahe how to use a compass. He showed them how it works, explaining the 4 main directions and degrees. Once they understood the concept, and were clear on how to operate it, he made them try by asking them to stand at a certain point, give them a direction and a number of steps so they could find a small ball he’d hidden previously. They were both excited and happy learning something new. They had no idea what the rest of the day had in store for them.

2. After lunch, Yohann asked Oceane and Mahe if they wanted to play a treasure hunt using the compasses. Obviously the idea was strongly welcomed with excitement and cheers. We all prepared and got ready since we all knew it meant leaving the house for the afternoon. The first thing that we did was to take both of them to Grandpa’s garden. There Yohann asked them to stand at the gate and gave them a direction using degrees and a number of steps. Their aim was to find something (without more explanations) at the destination. This is what you can see in the first video below. What they had to find was an envelope which contained the 10 trees sketches which I had drawn and 1 clue which told them how to proceed. This clue had the following information: 
  • - Make our way to the forest.
  • - The name of the tree they should look for. With the name, they could find the sketch which match so they would know what the tree looks like. 
  • - The direction in degrees and the number of steps from that tree to find the next clue.

We proudly watched the kids solve the puzzles and work together as a team as they searched for clues from the vegetable garden in Chateau d'Olonne all the way to the forest of Bois Saint Jean.

3. The second video is when we arrived at the forest. It shows Oceane and Mahe looking for the first tree and  finding it, followed by finding the next clue.

4. The latter would tell them what tree is the next one to look for and again, a set of direction and number of steps.

5. This went on until they found the 10 trees/clues

My niece and nephew learned to read coordinates and had an exciting afternoon exploring the forest
6. The last clue had different information. It basically asked them to look at the back of all the clues they had collected. Each of them had 1 word. The information indicated that in order to find the treasure, they would have to put all the clues in the right order so that it would make a sentence telling them where the treasure is. In our case, the sentence said something like “Look for the cross in Grandpa’s garden and dig”.

Putting all of the clues together with random words to form a sentence revealing where the treasure is buried
7. So there we go, back to where we started. This is what you can see in the last video when they were looking for the cross which was simply 2 sticks in a cross position above the location where we had buried the treasure.

8. Finding the treasure didn’t mean it was over yet. They had 1 more thing to do to reap the reward of that afternoon. The box was locked with a padlock. On top of the box was a set of instructions on how to find the numbers to open it. It was basically 3 clues which would give them 1 number each. For example, one of the clues was “how many days in a week?” once they had all the 3 numbers, they simply had to put them in the right order, et voila, open Sesame!

9. The content of the box was a bag of candy with some coins for each of them and 1 extra for each of Oceane’s sisters, even though they didn’t participate. There were also some strings to make scoobydoos, card games, bubble makers and some elastic bands to make bracelets.
Everyone had a good time.

The journey while searching is equally valuable. It is when we work and help one another while sharing our God-given gifts towards a goal that we find joy and meaning.

It is our dream to re-create this treasure hunt someday in whichever community we may be in in the future.

These kids may be happy with their reward but they had no idea, they made us both the happiest that day.

Love & light,

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  1. now doesn't that sound like an exquisite fun? My grandfather would sometimes hide Easter present from bunny somewhere around our yard when I was very little, but it was in no way such a quest like this one is :)

    1. That's what I like about Easters and activities like yours, they'll always be special and we'll always remember them. :) An Easter present from bunny hidden somewhere sounds fun indeed, I think that's way better than collecting painted hardboiled eggs in a basket.:)

  2. That's a fun activity for the whole family. My sister and I would make scavenger hunts for each other when we were itty bitty, although none quite as elaborate as this

    1. Isn't it just wonderful to re-live fun memories like that? Can't wait to organise another one someday, hopefully soon, since Easter is not that far away. :)