Happy Father’s Day, everyone!

I thought I’d share a fun thing I did for my wife and kids recently, in hopes that it inspires dads to do something different and create some memories they won’t soon forget.

treasure hunt


Pirate Treasure Hunt

searching for treasure

I’ve been wanting to do a treasure hunt for the kids for a while now.  I used to do some fun ones with my wife before we were married, and she loved them.  Now it’s time to give the keiki a thrill!

inspired by the famous pirate Olivier Levasseur and his hidden treasure (worth billions and still sought after today!) At least one experience he had made for the basis of Stevenson’s Long John Silver.


Step 1 – The Scrolls:

kids on treasure hunt

I found some off-white paper, cut it to size (actually a little bigger than what I wanted.)  Then I took some wet paper towel that had been folded to the exact size I wanted the paper, and I laid it on the paper, careful to leave room for margins.  Then with a brûlée torch, I burned all the edges.  The wet paper towel stops it perfectly.   Then I took some red dirt from the backyard and smudged the paper a bit to weather it.  You can soak the paper in coffee too.

I then rolled 2 sticks at each end over some hot glue to lock them to the paper. Once cool, I penned this fun little fictitious story (loosely based on Captain Levasseur.)


Step 2 – The Loot

pirate treasure

I dug through some old things I had.  Luckily, I had a treasure chest from when I was a kid, and some other souvenirs and gifts.  I found an old, worn-down wallet and I filled it with some old bills and coins from past travels.  Money from Indonesia, Vietnam, China, Greece, Mexico, Indonesia, and various currencies from Central America.  Also, there’s some sand in 2 boxes: white from Cancun, Mexico, and black from Costa Rica.  Finally an ornate pen and some crystals I bought from the local crystal shop.  (That’s right, Maui has plenty of them.)


Step 3 – Prepping the Hunt

I waited till the day of before hiding everything, so as to not have the rain screw things up.  I had the story scroll and a clue tied with old looking twine to give the kids.  The clue said:

No, this is not the map.

I won’t make it so easy.

Go to where orchids nap,

where a hose might be sneezy.

It’s pretty obvious at our house where this is.  The clue also said to bring a shovel.

orchids hidden scroll

I then hid the final map scroll near the orchids, which was a loose drawing of the layout of our property.  They then read a story I made up below:

The Treasure of the Lovesick Sailor

Here is the story of Captain La Bouche,

A pirate in search of a long lost smooch.
I was a poor boy when I first met her.

She wore knee-high socks and a green sweater.
And though I had nothing to offer,

She loved me despite.

We coveted passionately

our love at first sight.
Her song was sweet,

pure lyrics only a goddess could croon.

I left my love,

leaving only a promise of fortune.
Searching for treasure on ocean and land

with one eye missing and a crippled hand.
In 1720 on a stark pirate ship,

we tore through the ocean, steal sword at my hip.
Fortune favored as we found a great galleon.

the lady was Portuguese make, not Italian.
The hull was huge,

such would even blush Noah.

Treasure piled high,

from the Bishop of Goa.
I returned home to my gal with great riches,

My crew alive, bemused, and in stitches.
I swung her high in the air giving great kisses,

She smiled and said, ”All this gold leads to mad twitches!”
A bit disappointed,

I knew what she meant.

Our deep love was enough.

It made us content.
So now I travel with her,

leaving treasure around.

We hope more than gold

is found in your ground.
Learn one thing from me:

don’t waste time, be wise.

Your family you’ll see,

Its love is the prize!

Fun right?


x marks the spot

X ALWAYS MARKS THE SPOT!  So, I nailed together 2 pieces of wood and scrubbed it with red dirt.  Then went up our hill to dig a hole.  Because I didn’t want the treasure chest to have mud caked on it, I put it in a brown paper bag.  Took away from the reality of it, but my kids are really young.  Maybe would’ve been better to wrap in some old canvas.  Hmmm…  Finally, I dropped the wooden X on top.

Step 3 – The Hunt

pirate treasure found

The kids loved it!  I kept my wife in the dark too, since I figured watching our kids’ delight would be a nice surprise.  I let her read everything and direct the hunt.  It was less staged that way since she was new to it too.  I don’t think my daughter will forget this experience anytime soon.  And the nice bit about this is that the scrolls live on even when the hunt is over.  My 2-year-old will have photos and the scrolls to remember it by.

Treasure Hunt Materials

  • Treasure Chest – Here’s a nice one for $25.  You can get it cheaper if you want a smaller one.
  • A Shovel
  • Lighter or a brûlée torch
  • Red dirt – or any dirt to weather the paper
  • Treasure!  Crystals, chocolate coins, old souvenirs, whatever you want!

Have Fun and Happy Father’s Day!