Lessons from a Kindness Scavenger Hunt

432 Friday night, we finished off our Button Project summer adventure with a kindness scavenger hunt. All summer, we've been doing activities with my girls and their friends that focus on how small acts of kindness can make a difference in another person's life.

Our scavenger hunt consisted of 20 items, most of which were random acts of kindness to another person -- from smiling and saying, "Have a nice day" to buying flowers for the cashier at Wal-Mart. Each team had $20 to spend.

What struck me most about this activity was the reactions the girls got. One of their random acts of kindness was to hold the door open for 20 people. We stood at the gas station and the girls opened the door. Several people asked them what they wanted. One man looked at the girls and said, "I'm not giving you anything."

When the girls gave a pack of gum to another child in Wal-Mart (after explaining to the mom what they were doing), the mom asked, "Are you sure?"

It seems that kindness has become so rare in the lives of some people in this world that it's hard for people to accept it. We've become so wrapped up in our own worlds, our own concerns that when someone smiles and says, "Have a great day," we automatically assume that they want something from us.

And I find that sad. As I spent all summer teaching my girls that kindness can make a difference in this world, I assumed that the rest of the world could still recognize kindness. I was under the assumption that being kind to each other was not a forgotten art.

But Friday night, I found that for some people, the words of Ephesians 4:32, "Be kind and compassionate to one another," really are a foreign concept. They have encountered so little kindness in their everyday lives that when it happens to them, they question its authenticity, they assume that the person doing the kind act has an ulterior motive.

And that's why it's so important for us to teach our kids to be kind, to teach our kids to look for opportunities to do a random act of kindness. It gives them the opportunity to be the hands and feet of Jesus to others. It lets them see the difference an act of kindness can make. For as many people as looked at my girls and wondered what they wanted, there were many others that smiled back. They even made the cashier at Wal-Mart cry when they handed her the flowers they had just bought. Our elderly neighbor was in tears over the chalk message the girls left on her driveway.

When our kids are kind to others, they learn what Jesus knew -- not everyone wants to accept a free gift. Not everyone can see the value in loving others. Not everyone wants to believe in kindness.

But as my girls passed out random acts of kindness, I saw their faces wreathed in smiles. I saw their eyes light up when someone acknowledged them. I saw them truly understanding that they can change the world, one small act of kindness at a time, so I think it was a summer well-spent.

Check out the instructions for our kindness scavenger hunt here. Feel free modify it and use it with your own kids.