Wednesday, May 25, 2011

World's Biggest Scavenger Hunt Celebrates its Silver Anniversary

(I'm behind on my blog, having spent a week in Arizona, and fulfilled my final round as supervisor of the VCC Yard Sale, which incidentally was fabulous--we made $2700 in six hours!)

In 1987, a University of Chicago tradition was born: the annual four-day Scavenger Hunt,  fondly known as "Scav." It has come to include the  Scav Olympics (held on the quad); the Roadtrip (not to exceed 1000 miles from campus, or to be done in a 15 passenger van); and the Hunt Proper (see the items here. )

This year, Scav set a new world record:

"On the evening of Friday, 6 May 2011, we broke the official world record for the largest scavenger hunt with 924 partipants on the Quads! This event did not require that you register or affiliate yourself with one of the main Scav Hunt teams. In order to make our record official, several very particular rules were followed. The rules, which were also handed out at the event, are posted here. "

It is with great pride that I report that our daughter's dorm, humble and religiously-inclined Burton Judson, beat Scav's perennial winners, Snell-Hitchcock. This is victory is even more savory since it marked the Scav's 25th anniversary.

My favorite items for 2011:

26. Lewis and Clark came back with an herbarium of almost 300 samples from the American West; we'reasking for only 10, drawn from plant species which are engraved or painted on campus buildings. Thenomenclature and notations don't have be written in quill, but the herbarium should be aesthetically and botanically pleasing. [10 points]

 31. Celebrating holiday meals one at a time is inefficient when you could combine them, yielding delicacies such as green matzo ball soup or B^uche de Noel studded with black-eyed peas. Present us with a single dish that adequately acknowledges the four holidays of Scav: Cinco de Mayo, Space Day, National Scrapbook Day, and Mother's Day. [10 points]

40. Affix a pair of appropriately enormous googly eyes to the campus building of your choice. [8 points]

54. A relief of a famous literary scene, carved entirely from its print source. [22 points]

56. A box of cryptozoology animal crackers. [5 points]

82. Bake! Build! As fast as you can. An autonomous, sprinting gingerbread man. [18 points]

95. Get out your crochet hooks or knitting needles. It's time to pay tribute to the intricate patterns of atoms and bonds that are the basis of life with a helical scarf featuring the beloved individual Watson-Crick base pairs which defigne us. Three feet minimum. [24 points]

105. Get your team logo displayed at the South Pole. [60 points]

120. Last year's Captains were but pharaohs, but through death they have ascended to godhood as well. To that end, they require an appropriate 1BR/studio for the afterlife. It should have a sarcophagus, pets or servants, royal treasures, and maybe some snacks to tide them over in the eternity to come. It'll need four rigid walls between eight and twelve feet wide, but it won't need a ceiling. That's right: Pyramids on the Quads. To be completed by 1:00 p.m. on Friday. [(egyptian hieroglyph inserted here) points]

121. A rust belt. A Bible belt. A borscht belt. [3 points]

125. Find something beautiful in Fargo, ND. Be prepared to justify calling whatever it is "beautiful". Do not conflate with Item 15. [15 points]

135. The University's "giving opportunity" mailings to alumni do not sufficiently take advantage of our generation's raging nostalgia. To remedy this, produce such a mailing in the style of Lisa Frank.
[5 points]

195. In 1961, a Soviet surgeon stationed in Antarctica removed his own appendix. This year, we will perform a far more diffcult maneuver. Lying on your back with a game of Operation on your chest, remove all twelve organs without setting the buzzer off more than five times. Be sure to have an attending Judge present in the operating room when this feat is attempted. [18 points]

211. Send your best stenographer for a test of tachygraphy. At 10:00 a.m. on Friday, in the Bartlett Trophy Room, I'll give a dictation and then expect a neatly written copy handed back to me. Paper and pen or pencil only, unless you have a stenotype machine. [5 points for actually using a stenographic system,10 points for the stenotype machine, 15 points for getting it all right]

224. Send me your Cherokees, your Frisians, your !Kungs. Send me a member of your team to natively speak in a living language with the fewest living speakers. [6 points]

233. Dan Lacey has created his incredible tribute to Barack Obama riding a unicorn. But why don't the Republicans ever get any love? Bring us a painting of Dick Cheney, naked, riding a Kraken. [12 points]

246. A game of language telephone. I tell you a phrase in English, and your teammate recites it back to me perfectly after passing the message through up to four additional intermediaries. Each junction must receive and transmit in a different language. Meet at 9:30 a.m. on Friday in the Reynolds Club basement conference room. [up to 12 points]

266. Dante's Hell in a handbasket. [13.21 points]

276. Calling all bards! A true tale from the storyteller's own life experiences of such rapture that, when suddenly stopped between 45 and 60 seconds into the telling, causes your Judge to exclaim, "No, no! Tell me how it ends!" [4 points]

277. And now, let's talk seriously for a moment. We've been together for 25 years now, and we think it'stime to make it offcial. On Friday evening, at 5:30 p.m., come to the University Avenue entrance to the Quads to set a new world record for the largest scavenger hunt. [(heiroglyph inserted here) points]
The most outrageous scav item ever:

In 1999, two physics majors, Justin Kasper and Fred Niell, made a functioning nuclear reactor from scratch, winning 500 points for the effort.

"It's kind of scary how easy it was to do," said Niell, assuring onlookers that there was only a trace of plutonium -- nothing harmful. "It only took us about a day to build it. We've been thinking about it for a few days and we gathered the parts, and last night we assembled it. In Justin's room -- he lost the coin toss."

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