This is not your typical non-profit origin story.
They are called The Treasure Games. They hide treasure, anything from concert tickets to bars of silver and gold, and encourage their followers to find it. It actually started as a marketing strategy for the founder’s expedition company. Wesley Weber spent two years collecting gold, silver and other valuables to hide around Utah. And he was planning to hide the treasure when Covid hit.
Weber and his nonprofit’s cofounder, Sam Holfeltz, decided to still hide the treasure chests. And it turned out to have more benefits than just for his company. As the owner of an expedition company, Weber just wanted to encourage people to get outside and enjoy the outdoors with their families. In fact, each of the initial chests hidden had a national park pass inside.
But the treasure hunts turned into something much bigger, even something life-saving.
In an interview with Wendy Rush, Weber said that they got a ton of messages from people who engaged in the hunts during the pandemic. And through them, realized the impact the treasure hunts were making. They were bringing families together and even saving the life of a man who was suicidal but found a renewed passion for life through the outdoors when he went out to find one of the chests.
“Every treasure hunt we do there’s numerous messages that come through similar to those”, said Weber, “some of them are pretty amazing, really.”
When it comes to the mission of The Treasure Games, Weber says it’s multifaceted. First, it promotes the mental health benefits of being in the outdoors. The nonprofit also advocates for cleaning up the environment. In the same interview with Wendy Rush, Holfeltz talked about that aspect.
“When we first started…we saw that there wasn’t a whole lot of education on how to responsibly enjoy the outdoors. And so we wanted to be able to teach ‘leave no trace’ and stuff like that, but we like to take it a step farther and we like to…clean up those areas to try and preserve them so that other people will be able to enjoy them the way they were meant to be, and that is trash free.”
Weber and Holfeltz hid Taylor Swift floor seat concert tickets near Lake Mead back in March. They plan to do another hunt in Southern Nevada in a few weeks. And they’ll be back in November for a clean-up event at Lake Mead.
This interview aired on Talking Solutions on April 16, 2023.