BY EMILY GRAHAM
SCHUYLKILL HAVEN — Schuylkill County’s VISION has launched a virtual scavenger hunt as a way of staying engaged with the community during the COVID-19 pandemic.
VISION started a yearlong license with GooseChase, an interactive scavenger hunt app, in which it can set up missions for the community.
VISION Executive Director Mandy Fitzpatrick said the hunts will allow VISION to continue to serve the community while the connections-fostering organization is unable to have in-person programming.
“This is something we started looking at in 2020 with everything being closed,” she said. “This was the kick-off to see what it looks like and how it works. We’ll be doing hunts throughout the year.”
The first mission began Jan. 22 and will run through Feb. 19. Players can access the game by downloading the GooseChase app and searching for Schuylkill VISION Kick Off Hunt or entering the code GZKWW6. The app is free to download, and users can set up an account or play as a guest.
Fitzpatrick said anyone can join the game any time before Feb. 19.
“The kick-off hunt started with 12 missions, and then additional hunts will be added throughout the month to keep the game going,” she said.
Fitzpatrick said the missions are open to all ages. Families can complete the missions on one account or download the app on different devices to play together.
Some of the current missions involved taking pictures or videos, answering questions or registering for VISION’s newsletter. Players earn points for each task and can view a leaderboard and see what other players have posted.
“One of them I connected with Explore Schuylkill,” Fitzpatrick said. “The visitor’s bureau has a trail map, so I include the trail map and encourage people to hit a trail in Schuylkill County and take a picture from that trail for the points.”
She said another mission features a video teaching people how to walk in icy conditions.
“There’s a video about a penguin showing you how to walk like a penguin when you’re on ice, so people can submit videos of them practicing that walk,” Fitzpatrick said. “Normally, I would go into the schools and do that with the after-school programs.
“Since we can’t do that, they can do it through the app.”
She hopes to partner with other organizations throughout the year, either creating missions to send players to an organization’s website or a business, or allowing the organization to set up its own hunt.
Fitzpatrick said the hunts help both to raise awareness about organizations and to provide useful information to the community.
“One thing VISION does is we do health and wellness initiatives across the county,” Fitzpatrick said. “However, we have not been able to do that. This is a way to stay engaged with those communities and encourage them to get out on a trail, but also being able to give them information.”