The Great YYC Staycation is a city-wide scavenger hunt that runs until Aug. 30. It’s a way to promote local businesses and get Calgarians to explore their city. PHOTO: KYLER NIXON/UNSPLASH

Summer holidays away may be limited due to COVID-19, but Calgarians can become tourists in their own town through a city-wide scavenger hunt already underway.

The Great YYC Staycation, which has people exploring the city while bolstering small businesses, runs until Aug. 30.

“It is a full-fledged, five-week city-wide scavenger hunt that kind of occurs in every neighbourhood around the downtown area of the city, and looks to support local business, retail shops, arts and culture,” says Molly Beckham, co-founder of The Great YYC Staycation. 

Calgarians can download the Let’s Roam: Scavenger Hunts app and get started on completing challenges to win a variety of prizes. Challenges include geotag check-ins, trivia and photo and video challenges. 

The scavenger hunt can be completed in teams of up to five and is free to join. Most of the challenges involved can also be done free of charge, however there are a few that do involve a cost for the participants. 

“Probably in every neighbourhood, there is kind of something along the lines of, ‘Go to a restaurant, grab a meal, take a picture of it and share what your favourite experience was of that dining experience,’” says Beckham. 

Ultimately, the goal for the scavenger hunt is to stimulate the local economy and help small businesses thrive during uncertain times. 

“That’s the whole point of this, is that it’s supposed to be an economic generator for the city to help kind of with that COVID deficit.” 

The idea for the scavenger hunt was generated by Beckham and Kim Trischuk at the BounceBack YYC hackathon – an event aimed to help Calgary bounce back from the hardships brought on by the pandemic. After winning the hackathon, Beckham and Trischuk were approached by Michelle and Graeme Edge about making the idea a reality. 

Since then, RBC also stepped on board as a collaborator and various other corporate sponsors have joined the cause. 

 “All of us are just trying to kind of help the city that we love so much just get back on its feet.”

molly beckham

With thousands of people signed up and taking part in the event that spans 15 neighbourhoods, The Great YYC Staycation is working hard to spotlight a variety of local businesses. 

“We’re trying our best to kind of spotlight areas across the city and businesses in a lot of different industries,” says Beckham. 

Beyond the official scavenger hunt, The Great YYC Staycation is also posting challenges on social media, including their Tiny House hunt. Every Wednesday and Saturday, they hide a tiny house at an undisclosed location throughout the city and post hints that morning on how to find it. Once people find it, they need to take a picture with it, post it and tag The Great YYC Staycation in order to be entered to win a gift card to a local business. 

Participation in the Tiny House challenge continues to grow with nearly every posting. 

“It’s kind of gaining this little bit of a cult following, that people are getting really excited about the tiny house,” says Beckham. 

The team at The Great YYC Staycation hopes to stimulate Calgary’s struggling economy and get people out and having fun in a safe way. 

“A lot of people aren’t able to travel because of COVID. They’re not doing as much, they’re kind of staying a little bit more local, and so we wanted to, not capitalize on that, but we did see an opportunity that we could provide a fun and engaging activity that was still safe.”

“All of us are just trying to kind of help the city that we love so much just get back on its feet,” says Beckham.