If I asked you to guess what’s inside this chest, what would you answer?

–Golden doubloons?
–A Faberge egg?

Regardless of what’s actually inside the box, opening it is exciting to think about, isn’t it?  “What could it be?” Your heart beats faster.  Adrenaline floods your system. Your breath catches in anticipation.  For this one moment, everything is more vivid, more exciting, more real. don’t worry:   I’ll show you the contents of my chest a little bit later, but first let me ask you this:

“If I told you that life could feel this exciting, this stimulating all the time, would you be interested?”

The reality is, your life CAN be a full-time Indiana Jones adventure —  all it takes is seeing the world like a treasure hunt master.

Before I tell you 3 ways you can transform your way of looking at the world, travel back with me to San Francisco, circa 1995.  At that time, almost on a lark, I accepted a request to create a treasure hunt for a bike group I belonged to.  Teams of 4 pedaled around Golden Gate Park, solving my puzzle-based clues and following my trail of bread crumbs to cool, mystery locations.  The reaction to the hunt was so positive that I started pitching treasure hunts to groups and organizations as a corporate team building activity.  The idea took off (to my pleasant surprise), I quit my day job, and here I am, a bonafide treasure hunt master. 😊

As a hunt master, when I hit the pavement scouting a new location for clue sites, I enter into a state of obsessive curiosity, imagining wonders around every corner. Unwilling to miss even one cool discovery, I poke my head into shops and taverns, parks and passageways, backstreets and alleyways.   I scan down low for the tiniest details: foundation stones, donor bricks, commemorative plaques.  I search up high for grander items in plain sight:  weather vanes, building inscriptions, old, faded advertisements on red-brick walls from the 20’s & 30’s. When I’m sleuthing a new city, the world is my oyster, with pearls scattered all along my path.

As satisfying as treasure hunt creation is … it’s also hard work.   To do it right, you need to scout every street and every shop in the area.   After all, you never know what treasure might be lurking around the next corner.   It’s the ultimate FOMO (fear of missing out).  Sometimes, after 6 hours of vigilant clue scouting, I just don’t feel like reading another plaque, or walking those extra two blocks to finish off the last quadrant of my treasure hunt map.  But I always do, because when it comes to hunt scouting, I’m nothing if not thorough!

And on occasion, scouting can even be perilous!  Take the time, back in late 2001, when I’m taking notes (on my trusty clipboard) outside the federal building in Dallas Texas.  (For context, this was a few weeks after the actual 9/11).  Almost immediately, two national guard soldiers confront me with machine guns, asking “What have you got on that clipboard, sir?!!”   Apparently, I looked like a potential terrorist, scoping out my next target!   All I can do is explain what I’m doing, show them my notes, and get out of the area as quickly as possible. “I’m just a treasure hunt master!”   Clearly this will NOT be a treasure hunt location in my next hunt!

Treasure hunting is not for the faint hearted, but the rewards are significant!  To paraphrase Dr. Seuss, “Oh the places you’ll go…and the clues you’ll discover.”

Some recent blue-chip scouting discoveries:

  • In San Francisco, I discovered a North Beach café with a bathroom dedicated to Elvis—right down to the giant porcelain bust on top of the King’s throne.


  • In Raleigh, North Carolina, I ran across a statue of a giant acorn—at least 12-feet high—with squirrels kneeling before it, worshiping it as a god. (Okay, I made that last bit up).


  • In London, I found a marker informing me that on this site, in 1886, absolutely nothing happened.Cheeky Brits!

It’s a pretty cool gig, hunt scouting.  🙂

Although not everyone can get paid to be a hunt master, your life, too, can be transformed into exciting adventure!

Here are three steps for making the transition from ordinary citizen to a hunt master:

#1: Look around.  Wherever you are, whatever you’re doing, put your cell phone away!  Poke your head into places you’re not supposed to go.  Be incessantly curious. Explore!

#2:  Pay attention to details.  Treat each and every moment as an adventure — a clandestine journey into the unknown.  The devil is in the details, but so are the angels—and the whole cosmos, really

#3:  Expect the unexpected!  Because it will happen.

And most of all, don’t give up until your “area” is fully scouted!

Okay, are you ready now to see what’s inside my little chest?

Hah, isn’t that just typical?  Just when you think you’ve reached the end of a journey hunt, a new one begins.

–Dave Blum