Howard County, Things To Do

HOCO Pirate Hunts

HOCO Pirate Treasure Hunts
Various Locations in Howard County

Have you heard of HOCO Pirate Adventures? A few years ago, a Howard County dad started creating treasure hunts for his family. When COVID hit, he began creating them for the neighborhood kids as a way to safely get kids outside and having fun. The idea quickly took off and spread around like wildfire! Now HOCO Pirate Adventures has over 2,000 members on Facebook and is growing by the day. The treasure hunts are set up in a new location each month on a roughly one mile loop trail. They generally run the last 10 days of each month. 

Here’s how it works: First, join their group on Facebook by searching “HOCO Pirate Adventures” or clicking here. The Facebook page has the most up-to-date information. Then, visit their website. The website shows a list of when each hunt will be running (swipe to see the list!) HOCO Pirate Adventures runs on a “pay what you can” basis with a suggested donation of $5 per family. When you see the amount of effort this dad puts into these treasure hunts, you will not hesitate to want to donate and help him out! It is incredible the amount of work he has put in to make this special activity for complete strangers! 

On the website, you pay what you can to download the current month’s hunt. The hunt packet includes:

  • Instructions on how to complete the hunt 
  •  a pirate letter for your kids (there are 2 “levels” to choose from – one for younger kids and one more challenging for older kids)
  • a detailed hand drawn map for the kids to follow (clue spots marked with skull and crossbones)
  • A parent section with photos and detailed descriptions of where clues are hidden

On our hunt, each clue is marked with a white rock with a black symbol painted on it. Each symbol translates to a letter – when all 5 clues are collected, they spell out a word that unlocks the treasure chest at the end! Each child can pick 2 prizes from the treasure chest to take home. 

We completed the Hawthorn Hunt in May. My girls had a BLAST! It took us along a paved trail in the Hawthorn neighborhood, along a stream and past several different neighborhood tot lots. We were rushing because I forgot one of the twins shoes (yes, really! its a long story 😂🤦🏻‍♀️) so it took us about an hour, but we could have spent a lot longer! Be sure to follow their page for updates.

This is the schedule for this season’s hunts:

🚽 Bathrooms 🚽: varies by location. Bring a travel potty! (affiliate link)
👩‍👧‍👦Solo w/ kids?👩‍👧‍👦: yes
🛒 Stroller friendly?🛒: this months hunt was! I believe they are all planned around paved trails but don’t know for sure
🦠Covid-safe🦠: we saw several other families on the hunt and everyone was masked and gave us space 
🅿️Parking🅿️: free, he includes where to park in the instruction packet for each hunt
⏰Timing⏰: min 1 hour, but can take as long as you’d like if you play at playgrounds along the way, etc 

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