Over the past weekend I hit the Easter egg hunt circuit with Sloan and Beau. As we “hopped” to different hunts, a certain trend stuck out. But before I discuss this particular trend, which I liken to a “participation trophy” Easter egg hunt model, let me recognize a couple other hunts we partook in.
On Saturday morning, Sloan and Beau participated in the St. Mary School Easter egg hunt. The third grade class staged the event and it was well-organized and fun.
During the evening of Easter Sunday, my brother and sister-in-law staged their annual backyard egg hunt (you can watch a video here). As always, it was an intimate and creative affair.
We also attended an Easter egg hunt in our neighborhood and the longstanding Easter egg hunt in my parents’ neighborhood. Now both of these neighborhood events did things a little differently from the other two hunts the kids did. Instead of hunting for candy-filled eggs, Sloan and Beau were hunting for empty plastic eggs. They were encouraged to “find” as many eggs as possible, place them in their baskets, and turn them in at the end of the hunt. Upon turning in the plastic shells they were given a Ziploc bag of candy.
Let me preface this all by saying that any type of Easter egg hunt is better than no Easter egg hunt. All it took was a pandemic to truly realize that. With that said, I do have a few issues with the hunt model I just described. First, what is the fun of “hunting” for empty eggs? To pick up an egg, shake it, and hear nothing rattling around is extremely anticlimactic and depressing. There is no anticipation of finding something special.
Second, do you notice my use of quotation marks around words like “find” and “hunting”? Well, there really wasn’t much of either. At both hunts, these empty plastic eggs were scattered in a field, clearly visible to everyone. With candy-less eggs and any type of challenge completely removed, it was pretty much like kids were being recruited simply to pick up a mess.
Finally, the “prize” at the end was a small bag of candy. It didn’t matter if you picked up one plastic egg or 30, you earned the same bag of candy at the hunt’s conclusion. There was no incentive to return a large quantity of eggs, no bonus for meeting certain quotas.
These two hunts failed to instill motivation in the kids. In many ways, they were essentially pointless. I sincerely appreciate the effort of the organizers but children aren’t stupid. Easter egg hunts should inspire participants and a glorified pick-up session misses the mark. Thankfully Easter egg hunts aren’t what Easter is about. Don’t Blink.