• Scav 2014: The Tradition Continues

    Burton-Judson claims victory in the wacky competition
    Students watch as The Scav Olympics takes place at Eckhart Quad on the UChicago campus

By: Jonathan Behrens
Photo Credit: Joel Wintermantle

Since 1987, the University of Chicago campus has been home to the largest scavenger hunt in the world. Students and alumni got creative, clever and downright nutty during the “Second Annual 2014 University of Chicago Scavenger Hunt.”

Over the course of four days, many teams took over residential halls to tackle the ambitious list, transforming common spaces into “headquarters.” There, students could be seen throughout the day and night tapping vigorously on their computers, filming wacky dances, jousting with pool noodles, handling a jigsaw to create a wooden structure, or dicing vegetables for the judge’s “feast.”  

A Distinct Tradition

Each spring, on the Wednesday before Mother’s Day, hundreds of students gather in Ida Noyes Hall in anticipation for the start of four days of work, competition and unexpected twists. 

 “The modern Hunt includes a list of items and events, Scav Olympics, a blood drive benefiting the University of Chicago Medical Center, and a road trip, though the precise form and content evolves from year to year.” 
— University of Chicago
Scav Hunt Website

At the stroke of midnight a panel of student judges revealed a list of more than 300 clues and commands that teams had to complete before noon on Mother’s Day.

The first hunt began in 1987 when Chris Straus, AB’88, MD’92, a Hitchcock resident, was seeking to release some stress after midterms. Nearly 30 years later, the tradition has grown into a massive campus movement that unites students and alumni across the nation. 

“The Second Annual 2014 Scavenger Hunt List”

Following the “First Annual Scav List of 2014,” which was published in 2013 to skip the unlucky year, the most recent Scav list contained 308 items.

A few highlights from the list:

  • A “Prancercise Tour” featuring Dean Boyer
  • Scav Olympics which pitted teams against each other to accomplish anything from feeding each other gummy bears with 4-ft chopsticks, juggling and an “egg bounce” contest
  • A road trip that brought costumed “scavies” Canada
  • Item 266: Loose FlexDollars. A five-minute documentary that `proves' the destruction of Pierce Tower was, in fact, an inside job.
  • Item 115: Construct a laser from scratch. Many bonus points awarded for lasers that have edible mediums.
  • Item 49: Bring us an Animusic-style instrument that plays itself. Once activated, it should perform, unaided, a composition of no less than 90 seconds.
  • Item 140: We’ve been told that books can transport us to faraway places. Construct a pop-up book large enough for us to explore the whimsical, and well-engineered structures within. 

Another Year to Remember

Twenty teams brought together undergraduates, graduates and alum for an invigorating weekend that highlighted the various skills, interests and personalities of the vibrant campus community. Students got downright wacky in an effort to score points for their team. 

 I really love that wonderful feeling of making something I thought would remain figments of my imagination come to life.” 
— Cindy Chung
Second-year in the College

With an incredible 3198.02 points, Burton-Judson’s team won first in this year’s hunt. Their rival, Snell-Hitchcock, came in a close second with 3153.71 while last year’s champs, BroStoMP came in with a respectable 2883.33 points to claim third. Breckinridge with 2715.04 and Max Palevsky with 2656 claimed 4th and 5th respectively. 

After a weekend of rivalry and friendship, this year’s Scav will be remembered not only for the items and feats achieved but also for the lasting friendships and community formed. Angela Liu, a second-year in the college reflects, “I met a lot of different people and it was a lot of fun. Overall it was so great to bring the UChicago community together.”