Zoltan Szoges is challenging the people of Victoria to get to know their city in a fun and unique way: through scavenger hunts.
The local man has created a Facebook group framed around hiding unique items — mainly gift cards — in the area and challenging people to find them.
He says the idea originated out of a social media post when he built a “monolith” out of snow during the Island’s recent chilly weather.
“I thought I’d post this funny little hunt, whoever finds this gets a free coffee from the place across the street,” said Szoges in an interview with Victoria Buzz. “I had a great response from that.”
The online reaction spurred him to build a Facebook group called “The Great Scavenger Hunt – Victoria, BC Canada” that lets users hide gift cards or other items around town while having other people search for them.
Szoges, originally from Toronto, says he often finds it difficult to connect with people in the Victoria region. He believes his scavenger hunts are a way to help build a sense of community.
“I find that you have to be really intentional if you want to connect with people and make community,” he said.
“I think sometimes people get caught up in their daily lives just trying to survive in this very expensive region.”
Typically, the way a scavenger hunt works on the page is that someone — mostly Szoges to begin with — posts a photo clue alongside a post containing a “passcode” that the hunter must give to a local business in order to claim a prize.
Once a prize is claimed, the post is updated and the location is revealed. The winner is encouraged to post a personal message as well.
Szoges posted his first scavenger hunt on Saturday, and the response has been huge, with over 1,200 people signed up for the Facebook group already and plenty of attention in other groups like Oak Bay Local.
“A 12-year-old saw one post and got up Saturday morning at 7 a.m., before her parents got up, and started biking around town to find these cards,” said Szoges.
“She arrived at two cafes before they opened and waited for staff. The girl’s mother said it really put a spring in her step.”
The girl is now organizing a kid-friendly version of the hunt this weekend. Some businesses have also offered complimentary gift cards to take part in the fun.
For Szoges, it’s a strong indicator of the desire for community, especially during a difficult time like the COVID-19 pandemic.
“At the end of the day, people like kindness, people like giving, and people like connecting with their communities,” he said.
“I think you can utilize online platforms like a gift card scavenger hunt as a way to spur offline connections. I think that that is always my goal, how to use the online to support real-life connections and real-life support.”
UPDATE: the scavenger hunt below was solved on February 25, 2021. Thank you for reading!
Szoges is offering our readers the first chance at a new hunt starting today.
The passcode is: Take Me To Your Leader.
And the clue is: “Young or old, you’re bound to enjoy this shop. It’s the bomb!”
Need another clue? Take a closer look at the photo on this article! Remember: you just have to visit the business during their opening hours and be the first to deliver the passcode to claim the prize.
For more scavenger hunts, visit The Great Scavenger Hunt Facebook group.