BRIGHTON, England — I used to think scavenger hunts were a lame and meaningless activity meant for children’s parties or sororities, but I’ve had a change of heart. Recently, seven spirited women and I braved the streets of Brighton, England to participate in a scavenger hunt during the first day of a travel writing study abroad program. I was initially annoyed with the idea, but decided to give it a go. And I am glad I did. I am now a scavenger hunt advocate and plan to participate in many others for five important reasons: I love to explore, to connect with others, to educate myself, to be entertained, and to be active.

Exploration. I loved discovering new places. The hunt was chaotic at first, as our list of items was not in any logical order. Because no one knew which item to search for first, we found a coffee shop and began organizing our quest.

Education. Our list contained questions about the items (sites, really) we were expected to locate. Each site required a group selfie to confirm successful acquisition. With our newly founded camaraderie, and the internet, we split up the list and began locating answers to the questions. “1700 for number 8,” I shouted. Morgan became the self-appointed recorder. Olivia blurted out, “Duke’s Lane… 1979 for number 12,” followed by Abi’s, “Sir Laurence Olivier for number 13.” As we walked through Brighton, we learned street names, locations of shops and restaurants, and we took lots of pictures. This type of serendipitous exploration is my favorite thing about traveling.

Camaraderie. The most important benefit of a scavenger hunt is camaraderie, a mutual trust and friendship. Some of us barely knew each other; I was the most remote of the group. Not only am I the oldest, I am not a journalist. But that did not matter — the scavenger hunt pulled us together as one working unit. After ordering coffee, we sat around a large table and went over the list. Cassie pulled out her cell phone and, using keywords, located physical addresses and “pinned” them on a digital map. We decided to start from the farthest point and work our way back to city center.

Entertainment. As we searched for items, we chatted along the way. I loved hearing the occasional explosions of laughter as personal stories were shared and the squeals of excitement as landmarks were spotted. One student video-recorded a sound bite at each site, and we took turns in the role of narrator. The site I enjoyed the most was Sir Lawrence Olivier’s home in the Royal Crescent. We found the wall plaque identifying the site, and Morgan videoed Vy as she explained the site’s significance. Vy repeatedly pronounced “Olivier” as “Oliver,” which made everyone laugh. This must have drawn some attention, because the current owner approached us and requested our immediate departure. We left, snickering all the way down the drive.

Exercise. We walked and walked and walked. Jhocelyn kept track of our steps and said we walked more than seven miles. I was sore and hobbled around for several days afterward, but wore it like a badge of honor.

Now, I will participate in scavenger hunts whenever I can. They are a great tool for bringing people together for a day of exploration, education, entertainment and exercise, and they help create or deepen a sense of camaraderie. Who knows, I may plan one, too.

Here is what we found: Clock TowerWest PierCaroline of Brunswick Pub,  The Open MarketYe Olde King and Queen Pub,  The Foundry,  Max Miller StatueBrighton DomeThe Old Steine CatChurchill SquareOdeon CinemaBrighton LanesRoyal Crescent,  and the Brighton Fishing Museum