As spring fills the air and Scavenger Hunt approaches, team captains are recruiting members, dragging prospective building materials out of local dumpsters, and securing headquarters for the four-day insanity which will start Thursday at midnight.
In its 18th year, Scavenger Hunt has become a University tradition involving a list of 300 items with varying point values, large teams based mainly in the residence halls, and corporate sponsorship for some. Famous past items have included building a nuclear reactor and playing Super Mario Brothers on the Jumbotron at the former Comiskey Park. Various teams successfully secured both of these items.
Judges assess the teams' work on the Sunday afternoon after the list is released. Some of the items are also events, including a Friday night party on the Quads, the Scavolympics on Sunday morning, and a road trip with four or five people that lasts through most of the Hunt.
Fourth-year in the College Kaury Eisenman replaced 2003 graduate Matthew Kellard this year as Head Judge, a position that he held for three years.
Scav Hunt participants over the years have learned that clues can be found on the website before the list is released. "The key is in the judges' bios," said Lola Thompson, captain of the new team, G-Sprout, being organized by the Vegan Society.
Judges and team captains also get together before the Hunt to discuss preparations. Judge Dan Clinton recently advised captains at a judge-captain party that they should have three team members ready to drop everything and fly somewhere.
Clinton followed this comment with an e-mail requesting the team members' weight, blood type, and known allergies. The message also asked that at least one of the three be male and at least one female, and that at least one be over 21 years of age.
These mysterious requests come two years after the "Prophet Elijah" item, for which a member of each team was asked to stand on a street corner in Hyde Park at a particular time. These team members were next seen by the road trips in Ann Arbor, Michigan.
Team captains have been recruiting first-year students throughout the year. Victor Neminis, co-captain of the Shoreland team The Emperor's New Outfit, which came in second last year, says that first-years have been zealous so far. "All year, first-years have been coming to me, asking me about the Hunt, and how they can become victory incarnate as true sons and daughters of the Shoreland," Neminis said.
"In Max, obviously the first-years are the heart of our team. Recruiting is going just fine; lots of first-years are excited and enthusiastic about furthering our reign of awesomeness," said Alan Mardinly, co-captain of Max Palevsky's teamPhoenix, Bitchwhich won first place last year.
Many teams have been rooting through dumpsters to collect materials for possible items. Graduate Michael Milligan, "Tech Turnip/Ninja Exile" of the Federation of Independent Scav Hunt Teams (FIST) with headquarters in Burton-Judson, has been working on the computerized database that has organized FIST for the last few years. "[It keeps] track of people: who's willing to be naked, who's got a cordless drill, and once the list comes out, keep track of that, too," Milligan said.
This year's Hunt is seeing two new smaller teams, The Czechs led by Elizabeth Edmonds and G-Sprout. "We wanted to create a team to address the issue of animal cruelty in Scav Hunt," Thompson said. "We also like the idea of moving Scav Hunt towards smaller teams." She expressed her alignment with teams such as The Czechs and FIST, which took fourth place last year and has no affiliation with a residence hall.
Breckinridge (Sophonisba does Gary: The Davin Reed Experience), Pierce (Tuck Pointers), the Shoreland, Snell-Hitchcock (Fuckin' Yeah), Max Palevsky, and FIST will all make appearances again this year. New teams are Lube, G-Sprout, The Czechs, and un-named teams led by Brett Westphal and Seamus Clancy.