Friday, December 30, 2016

Christian Outdoor Activity Lesson: Mystery Hike

Activity Type:

Experiential/Team building


1-2 hours


Teach teamwork, critical thinking, backcountry navigation, and of course, have fun. 


Paper/notebooks, writing utensils, plastic food storage containers or zip close plastic bags. Any other material you choose.


This activity must be very carefully planned by the leader. Choose a goal and lay out two or three different routes to it from the starting point. Hide instructions along the way, each message pointing out the way to find further instructions. Place instructions in a food container or plastic bag and place them strategically along each route. Include clues that participants can try to figure out as a team. Keep in mind the abilities of participants so the changes are not too easy or difficult.

Divide participants into as many groups as there are routes and give instructions to each group leader regarding where the first message on his route may be found. Provide each group with paper/notebook and writing utensil. Each group is instructed to chart the trail as it progresses. This is especially valuable in teaching accurate directions and backcountry navigation skills, for the instructions hidden along the route may entail the taking of directions or even map and compass reading. For example, one message may read, "Go northeast till you find an arrow on a white oak, then due north for ten yards, and you will find the next instruction under a boulder."

Do not have the instructions hidden too far apart. For novices it will be best to have someone with each group who has planned that special route with the director. Instruct each group that if at any time the trail is lost, they should go back to the last known point and start over.1

Possible lesson:

This activity provides a great opportunity to teach participants about the spiritual journey of growing in Christ and gaining spiritual maturity. Another lesson available to the teacher is that of the importance of following directions. God gives us specific directions in his Word and if we do not follow them we can expect to get lost. Refer to Hebrews 6:1-2, 2 Peter 3:18, John 14:6, Acts 4:12, and also the book Pilgrims Progress.


1 L. A. Skinner. “Nature Games and Hikes” in Recreational Plans, 1943 (Washington D. C.: Review and Herald Publishing Association, 1943) 288.

Written by David F. Garner
Image courtesy of Keerati at