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Sunday, January 29, 2023
A socially distanced scavenger hunt in Queenston

For many years, Lisa and Steve Wilson would gather their group of friends for a New Year’s Day outdoor activity.

Traditionally, the activities have included a cross-country ski, hike, skate or even a chilly bike ride.  

The reward afterward?  Breakfast at a local eatery. 

With COVID restrictions, they knew they would not be able to gather as they have in the past. After a great deal of thought, the Wilsons, who live in Niagara Falls, came up with the idea of conducting an outdoor scavenger hunt. 

This would take place over a number of days, keeping social distancing at the forefront so people would not be in groups or taking over trails. 

Over four days, participants walked Niagara's Millennium Trail, following clues to 30 questions, searching for hidden props and, finally, submitting their answers.  Their only reward at this time was bragging rights. 

The friends enjoyed the event so much they asked when the next one would be.  The Wilsons then challenged their friends to create the next one. 

Four friends, Patti Nickel, Marc Plouffe, Ethel and John Vandenberg, better known as the JEMP Team (John, Ethel, Marc, Patti), created the next scavenger hunt. 

It took place Feb. 12 to 14, with answers to be submitted by the 15th. 

They chose Queenston Village with its rich history and guaranteed beautiful views while on their quest

They included a map of Queenston, instructions, the clues and pictures to be identified. 

With the bar set high by the Wilsons, the JEMP Team created a list of challenging questions. Not only did the participants enjoy days of fresh air and exercise, but with the questions, clues and answers, they learned some history about the area. 

Donning appropriate clothing that would keep them warm and comfortable for hours, they wandered throughout the village with clipboards and cameras in hand to search for clues and answer questions. 

Climbing and sliding down hills, the participants really put their all into making sure they captured every clue and answered every question.  According to Nickel, some of the answers were better than theirs and the creativity certainly showed. 

The winners were announced and ironically, with an almost perfect score, turned out to be the Wilsons, who accepted a handmade sea glass wind chime and a generous amount of chocolate. 

Nickel said It was fun, both participating and designing the hunts, and hope that they inspire others to create similar events. 

They look forward to a possible Easter hunt.  

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