How to use a Scavenger Hunt as an Icebreaker: Roaming around Rome on Study Abroad

546 450 Ellen Ensher
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Scavenger hunt icebreaker in Rome

Do you ever need a great icebreaker? Try designing a scavenger hunt!

In Summer of 2022, I had the great pleasure of teaching in Rome as part of Loyola Marymount University’s (LMU) study abroad program.  I traveled with my colleagues, Professors’ Aine O’Healey and Paula Moscarelli. We were teaching at the Accent Center which is in the heart of the ancient city of Rome.

I was teaching our core business course, Managing People in Organizations, which is required of our LMU business majors. This class is a combination of Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management, albeit with an Italian emphasis/twist because when In Rome….

To start our class off, I began the first day with a scavenger hunt icebreaker that I designed.  Here is how this worked:

Prompts for Scavenger Hunt Icebreaker

First, I gave the students these prompts:

  • Find a tourist and take a picture with them and post it to our Group chat.
  • Go to Castel St. Angelo and take a picture (a beautiful museum right around the corner from our school)
  • Find a hairdresser or barber shop- everybody on our five-week program seems to have this need eventually.
  • Find a coffee place
  • Find a place that serves pizza

The purpose of the scavenger was: a) help students’ get to know each other and bond, b) develop their confidence in navigating around our school, and c) push out of their comfort zones right away.

Second, I integrated the element of competition with a reward for the winning group. The first group to be back in class and post their pictures won a free pizza slice at the pizzeria around the corner. However, I like to be inclusive so after declaring a winner, I issued a general invitation to all students.

Tips for Designing a Scavenger Hunt Icebreaker:

My tips for you for designing your own scavenger hunt:

  • Keep it doable- I had 6 tasks and this seemed like the right amount.
  • Make it a little challenging- the toughest thing was taking a picture with tourists- it was a lot easier though because students worked in teams. After the pandemic we are all a little shy and less likely to talk so this was a great exercise.
  • Document that it happened with photos
  • Add in a reward like free pizza.

In conclusion, scavenger hunts are a fun and active way to learn, laugh and get to know each other. Special thanks to my LMU marketing colleague, Matt Stefl, who inspired me as he created a scavenger hunt for our faculty trip while in Nicaragua in 2017.  Next week, I am off to Greece to teach and I will definitely be designing a scavenger hunt for my students studying on the island of Spetses! This year I will be traveling with my LMU colleague, Professor Christina Bogdanou.

Now it is your turn! Have you ever used a Scavenger Hunt?  If so how did it go?  If you do end up doing a Scavenger hunt, please come back here and leave a comment.