Creating Treasure Maps At Camp

One surprising element was how many pictures of beauty, such as art objects, upscale furniture and ancient artifacts, the children chose. I asked one boy why he used a particular image and he said, “Because it is cool.” One of the counselors remarked that it seemed like the children’s subconscious was actively at play.

Another curious element was that, in many cases, there was a unifying graphic style. Some kids used small pictures, some sophisticated pictures, while others chose harmonizing color schemes. Some treasure maps told a story. One was like a pirate treasure map that led to “the golden palace and the super car” (a Mercedes). One imaginative girl created a board game. With so much freedom, the traditional format and guidelines of creating a treasure map no longer applied.

Compared to how adults might proceed, the children were much less restricted. The normal adult concerns of money, success, health, fitness and relationships were not abundantly present, at least in linear terms, for the children. There was also a symbolic nature to many of the images. Repeatedly, I thought, “I wonder why they chose that or how will that image later reveal itself in their lives?” All my questions, in the end, led to a sense of awe. It was a fascinating event.

Lony Ruhmann is a career counselor from South Pasadena, Calif., with an MBA from the University of Michigan. He also works as a ticket manager for the Olympics. He can be reached at

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