Our Buddy turned six this past weekend. I can hardly believe it’s been six years since he was born. This boy, this sweet boy, shares a birthday with my late grandfather on my moms side AND my sister, so this has easily become one of my favorite days of the year.
A few hours after he was born, he was taken to the NICU, and I can remember like it was yesterday the tears streaming down my face as I watched his tiny body in the small glass box with wires coming out of every part of him. My family drove over 8 hours from Oklahoma to Albuquerque to come and be with us as we waited for his health to improve.
He came out of that NICU later that same day and I can remember fighting back tears of joy to not only know he was alright, but to be holding him safely in my arms. My sister, as she held him for the first time, sang, “You’re the Reason God Made Oklahoma” and to this day when I hear that song I think of how time seemed to stand still in that moment.
This child, this lively, spirited, full of energy child, with his adorable raspy voice, his extremely expressive facial movements, and his infatuation for costume wearing has us simultaneously on our toes and wrapped around his finger. So, of course, what better way to let him know how much he means to us than to go all out for his special day.
He had no idea what we were planning, only that something big was coming his way. I told him yesterday evening that today, after he had gotten dressed and eaten breakfast, I would give him a letter…what he didn’t know is that the letter would lead to another, and another and that it keep going in a series of clues taking him hunting all over our neighborhood!
The final note came with a gift (some goggles) and told him to pack up his things and to get ready for a day of fun because we would be going to the Great Wolf Lodge for the night! I’m sitting here now in our dark hotel room, with our happily exhausted kids all asleep, editing the fun pics from the morning and I just couldn’t help but share them with you all! It was the perfect day, with water slides, wave pools, pizza for dinner, a dance party, story time, movie night and presents! He kept repeating over and over again how much fun he was having and the smiles on his face were priceless.
These days of motherhood are numbered, and I feel it constantly slipping through my fingers. I long to savor these moments and wish so badly I could bottle them up forever. I love getting to celebrate my kids…because Lord knows, they are worth celebrating!
Here’s the scavenger hunt in it’s entirety. And if you are in any way motivated to do your own for your little one someday please feel free to copy any of mine that you should desire…and be sure to read the tips at the end for more help!
The first letter:
Happy 6th Birthday Buddy! I’m so proud of you! Today we’ve got something special to do! You’ll have to think hard to figure it out, but I know you can do it so be sure to not pout. We’ve planned a surprise for our whole family to do, and we cannot wait to celebrate you! We are taking a trip, what an adventure it will be!!! There will be so much to do and so much to see! This day will start with this little scavenger hunt, so put your thinking cap on and be sure to lead out in front. You’ll figure it out by reading each clue and then go to the next spot the words lead you to. If you’re ready to go then go kiss your dad and your mom, grab your brothers and sister and say “come on!”
After the intro letter I gave him his first official clue, but not before him insisting he put on his special ninja turtle thinking cap!
Mom and Dad spend so much time in this place each day. We make nuggets, and waffles,and smoothies for you to see a smile on your face. Your first clue is where we all like to cook, I’ve put the letter inside of a big black book…
I purposely made the first clue a super simple one so he would really get into it. And it worked! His face lit up and he couldn’t wait to read the next one!
You did it! You found it! You’re first clue is done! I hope you’re catching on now so lets keep having fun! Your next clue is somewhere very easy to guess because you spend so much time there whenever you rest. You probably didn’t know it was there all night long, but your next clue is where your head rests when I sing nighttime songs…
You’re on a roll now Canon, you got this one too! But now this next one is tougher so go get on your shoes! You’ll have to search low and you’ll have to search high and you’ll have to be sure to go run outside. This next clue is over where you climb and you flip, there’s stairs, a few slides and tons of wood chips…
Yipppeeee! You made it, you’re doing so great! Let’s be sure to keep going so that we don’t show up late! This next spot is not open yet so you’ll have to use your arm that is slim. to reach through through the black gate surrounding the place where we swim…
Congratulations Canon! You’re so good at this!!!! I can’t wait till you finish so I can give you a big kiss! Your next clue is far, so be sure to think through how to get there and what you will need to do. You’ need a gate pass, a car, and some keys, and go ask your mom to drive you please. You’ll have to tell her where you need to be is where boats like to park and where ducks like to feed…
Oh my goodness Canon you’re doing amazing! I thought this might be tough, but instead you’re just blazing! Right through all these clues, they’ve got nothing on you! You’ve made it this far and we aren’t finished yet, so keep going strong and hunt for that next clue to get. This next spot is down some stairs you see, near a gazebo that is where you be. The stairs are white and on a small island close by, where the ducks like to sit and watch the boats go by…
Oh wow, big boy! You’re so smart I see! You found it again and have so impressed me! Go back up the stairs and head back to the car. You’ll tell your mom she needs to drive you far. You’ll head to the place you like to jump in, the spot is near where you first learned to swim. There’s a park that you play at near there with a slide on top and you’ll have to crawl up high to find the very right spot…
Woo Hooo sweet boy, you’re on a roll! You’ve got madd skills at hunting and meeting your goal! Jump back in the car and head to the place where you play and blow bubbles out of your face. There’s grass and a tree and a table there too, it’s a spot that’s very familiar to you. Underneath the cover where daddy likes to grill food is a basket with stuff in it which is where you’ll find your next clue.
Oh my goodness Canon, you’ve done so well! I’m so proud of you and my heart just swells! This next clue is surely your last one to find, after that you'll discover the surprise we have in mind. You’ll need to look in a spot in the house, where we store bikes and scooters and where we caught a mouse. There will be a green suitcase that has your name on it, you’ll have to see what’s inside so be sure to unzip…
You did it! You’re finished! You’ve completed them all! I love you so much and this surprise is not small! You’ll need to pack up and be sure to bring your things! Take your swim suit and goggles and let’s start to sing! We’re going to have sooooo much fun you know, bring your blanket, your pillow and some toys to throw. Make absolute certain you don’t forget Rex because we’ll be staying the night at the place we go next! This place is somewhere we’ve never been but it’s going to be amazing and will make you grin! Here is a hint for you to see if you can guess, you’re the greatest little six year old you deserve the best! There are slides and water with so much to do and all we want is to celebrate YOU!!! We are ready to go, let’s hurry and play! We love you SO much Buddy and Happy Birthday!!!!
That shocked look on his face and the super tight hug was just the absolute best! I’ll post more from our time at the Great Wolf Lodge tomorrow, but here’s some tips for writing your own scavenger hunt!
8 tips to writing a scavenger hunt
- Locations: Begin with the locations. Make a list and write out the spots you’d like to hide the letters. Try to think of the hunt as a huge circle with it ending at the same location it began in.
- Introduction Letter: Write out the introduction letter explaining to your kiddo what is happening.
- First Clue: Make your first clue in a separate letter (it’s easier to keep track of that way) and make it a very easy note to help him find his first clue (that way he won’t get discouraged right off the bat.)
- Poetic Rhyming: Write the words you would want to communicate first without the rhyming. That way you can get the sentences in the correct order to help guide him to the right spot. Then go back and change up the last words of those sentences to make them rhyme. Sometimes it means changing out the entire sentence to make a way for it to work, but just keep it simple.
- Use a Thesaurus: I pulled up a thesaurus on my computer and just typed in words that I thought could work, then rebuilt the sentences based off of the ideas that came up online.
- Assign A Helper: Have other kids help if your child doesn’t read really fast. They’ll be so excited that it might become frustrating if they can’t get the info as fast as they want. For us, the birthday boy just picked different helpers for each clue.
- Running Shoes: I wish I’d worn some! He was so fast and I should not have been wearing that dress! I wish I had on my workout gear to be able to keep up with him!
- Prize: The prize at the end could be a goody bag or their birthday present. You could do this for Easter baskets or Valentines Day presents…or one idea I had was to have a hunt like this on the last day of school with water guns waiting at the end to celebrate summer. The possibilities are endless!