On the eve of my first Scav Hunt, I had a lot of expectations. I had seen the photos of my friends with lions and tigers on Bartlett Quad and their team’s post-apocalyptic Kentucky flag, heard the stories of alien birth reenactments on the road trip, and read the lists of Scavs past.
List release was a great mix of excitement and anticipation. The entire staircase in the Ida Noyes lobby was red with the shirts of the Burton-Judson team, the chants were clever and often random, flags were waving, and spirits high. Everyone came together to chant, “We want the list!” The collective screaming at the first sight of the judges could only be rivaled by a rock concert.
Let the games begin.
As a member of Flint House, I Scav’d for Blintstone. When I began to read the list later that night, I felt like many of the items were written in code (#9, for example, or #320). After figuring out what exactly the judges were asking us to find, make, or bake, I started to have doubts whether we would actually be able to complete many of the items. Clearly, I doubted too quickly.
As I got ready to walk to my SOSC class Thursday morning, I expected chaos to have descended on the quads. I had my camera ready for any arts and crafts projects, carpentry, or singing flash mobs I might pass on my way. Instead, I just saw a few slogans represented à la Charlotte’s Web (#160) in different parts of the quad.
Other than a dog in laundry basket being dragged behind a student (Olympics #2) or students attempting to bike backward toward Hull Gate (Olympics #3) during Scav Olympics, I never saw much chaos on the quad. Unlike the quad, my house lounge was taken over by Scav. It was covered in tarp, paper-mâchéd, with remnants of Ivory soap, BeDazzling, and string cheese butterflies strewn around.
After Scav, I came to miss the constant, obvious displays of creativity the Hunt causes: the random walks of huge balloon victory balls (#303) or 15 foot long pipes across the quad, the videos of Adele sung backward, or amazing worm charming skills (#26). I missed mistaking my friend for a lost med student as I passed him on the second floor of Cobb because his ER doctor captain’s costume was that realistic.
Although I wasn’t able to participate in as many items as I had hoped, I did get a taste of Scav crafts. I learned who (or what? I’m still not sure) Goomba was and got to know him well as I helped a friend make characters out of balloons, glue, water, old Maroons, duck tape, and markers (#283). I spent part of every class racking my brain for any place that fit the description of an item or way we could earn a few more points.
I’m glad the chaos was contained in lounges rather than the quad because it made Showcase (Rules #11) all the more exciting and the projects students had completed all the more surprising. I walked into the Ida courtyard Sunday morning and found myself surrounded by clockwork maps of campus (#264), bartending pianos (#146), and a life-size painting of Rod Blagojevich attached to a John Hancock tower meant to symbolize Chicago spirit Red Grooms style (#251).
I returned to Ida later that evening to hear how the teams had fared against one of the longest lists in Scav history and which team had won. Considering the level of sleep deprivation, and commitment everyone had to the Hunt, I expected a competitive atmosphere. The judges announced Snell-Hitchock beat Burton-Judson by only about 40 points, and yet, as everyone joined together to chant, “We had fun!” I was surprised by Scav once again. That chant and the reactions of Burton-Judson team members I talked to later helped me understand what Scav is truly all about.
UChicago students approach Scav similarly to how we approach academics. We put in a lot of blood, sweat, and tears, have a lot of sleepless nights, and are more competitive with ourselves than we ever are with each other. We are constantly amazed at the talent and innovation of our peers. We don’t put in the work because of the glory or praise we’ll get at the finish line—we do it because there is a deep personal enjoyment we get from what we do.
We have fun.