The pirate map symbolizes a real space—which in the video—I refer to as "your house" although this could just as easily represent a rented party space, apartment (which the example map actually portrays), park/playground or other celebratory location.
The main map is given to the person whose birthday it is, and whose gift it is, that is the object of the treasure hunt. They move throughout the space defined in the metaphoric-map to find hidden clues hidden prior to the scavenger hunt.
This map consists of islands, interconnected by bridges—although feel free to use naval lines, isthmuses, or other appropriate connectors. Name each island—here representing a room or zone in the real world—something appropriate, like a literal "Laundry Isle" (for the laundry room), or "Suzuki Island" (which stood for the garage, where my friend kept his Suzuki motorcycle)—some inside jokes exist here too, like "Hair Straightener Island" which deals with John nagging his girlfriend about putting her things away.
For this map, I used relatively cheap materials—a simple pen to draw in the basic shapes. Marker and highlighter formed the basis for coloring the map.
Below is a finished artwork version of the map. Remember, pirate maps come from the era of exploration—a time when maps were embellished with "illumination," the clip art of the day! Images of seagulls, kraken and treasure chests are all appropriate for this lyrical mapping style's decorations.
Each of the clues is to be separate note-square of paper that can be hidden throughout the house. My goal with John was to create a lightly story centered sequence, that would feature characters—such as a stuffed wolf in his bedroom, or the monkey that exists only on the map. A subtle story through line exists between all the clues.
For this project, we used coffee to stain the map & clue pages. I found out quickly enough that waterproof ink is a prerequisite to this. (On a review of the process, I think tea would give a more pleasing, yellowed result.) Some would recommend that this stage be done FIRST, before applying the coffee, would be more sensible—but I say, nay as (1) it makes it much harder to put the colors down next, and (2) it is not the pirate way!*
After that, of course, there is a burning of the edges of the paper for extra pirate-era effect. Arr! She's a beauty!
Now it's time to set up your space. Put the clues where they go (John hid one clue inside a coconut that needed a hammer to break) and then bring in the birthday person—or team (if that's the way ye do it)—hand them the map. One thing I made sure to do was have the first clue clearly marked, so that they could get started.
This works best as a surprise. Make sure, as I mentioned above, that you don't make this too complicated for your treasure seekers. Odds are, they've never done this before, and they won't be thinking this is the worst birthday pirate treasure map scavenger hunt of all thirty-two that I've done, but rather this is such an interesting concept. At that point, even if your execution is a little rough, you can still get away with a yo-ho-ho good time diggin' fer gold!
BLOG BASED SCAVENGER HUNT!
Because this pirate-talkin' day is actually somebody's birthday, I've hidden the clues around the blog. In fact you may have seen (one or more) and even clicked on them to get here. If that's the case, scroll to the top of the page, watch the video and/or read on down to understand this more fully. Then, continue with the instructions below.
How It Works
Find other paper fragments hidden in various other articles around the blog. Each clue will point you to another article, until, you will at last reach the deeply buried secret pirate's bounty treasure chest!
Here it is. Use this clue to guide you to another article.
Now, there are three options for going forward. An easy way—which will land you on the page of the first clue, a medium way—which gets you to the right general area of the blog, and a hard way—which makes you have to find it, from the beginning, on your own.
- Easy — Use this if you want to make sure you see the full sequence of clues, but don't the search to be as challenging as it could be
- Medium — Use this if you want to be delivered to the section of the blog where the first clue will be found: a good middle ground.
- Hard — Use this if you want to go start your search in all the blog articles (only a dozen or two right now) for the clues.