My family is all about making memories, but not always big on keeping traditions.  I know that does not make much sense.  I have analyzed that a bit while writing my book, Little Cabin on the Trail, and one explanation I have come up with is that being the creative people that we are, we are not opposed to changing things up a bit.

Two years ago, an idea popped into my head that I think was genius that has since, in fact, become a tradition.  I was helping a friend out by keeping three of her kids while she worked. Active, pre-teen boys tend to make me nervous, so I came up with what I thought was an entertaining, fool-proof plan to fill the day with things they and I would enjoy.  The hit by far was the photo scavenger hunt at the mall.

Daughter Kelly took the girls, Kenzie and Olivia, and I took the boys, Levi and Stone. Each team was given a list of about 25 things that they had to find and photograph with a phone.  They were also given a time limit.  There were several things that made this challenging:

  • boys take competition seriously
  • boys do not always agree on the best shot
  • boys are overwhelmed by a long list
  • boys tend to turn even a simple photo shoot into an event

I should have set the phrase Focus, boys to music.  The tune of "Jingle Bells" might have worked.

Focus, boys.  Focus, boys.

We have lots to do.

Get the pic.  Get the pic.

Before I clobber you!


Really, it was not that bad.

The competition, in my mind, was about finding all of the items on the list and getting an interesting shot.  The girls did not necessarily care about getting an interesting shot.  They only cared that they were in every shot.  That possibility never crossed my mind. 

Yes, the boys and girls were very different in their approach.  The boys wouldn't even consider having a photo taken with the actual Santa.  The girls wouldn't have had it any other way.

Both teams had to take a photo with a stranger who was wearing red.  This took a bit of courage for the kids, but our strangers were happy to help.  Of course, one boy refused to do this.

When we were done, we sent the photos to Walgreen's to be developed.  Walgreen's has a great app that allows pictures to be sent directly from Instagram and printed in a square--which I love.  If you don't want to use Instagram but want your photos square, you can just take your phone into the store when you are done.  They have the cord to upload the shots, and you can choose to have them printed in a square.

When we brought the photos home, we spread them out on a table side by side.  Then we discussed and debated and voted and agreed and disagreed.  That's what pre-teen boys do.  And we laughed and made good memories--which is why we did it again last year and are planning on doing it again this year.  

We have quite the collection of scavenger hunt photos! Maybe I should make a garland.

Here's last year's list--which still looks pretty good. I think it helps to look for the same things each year because it is easier for the kids to be on the look out without constantly having to check the list.

And here is this year's! Feel free to save a copy to your downloads and print one for each team.