The Cloister Club in Ida Noyes is known to host activities as varied as dance marathons, Blues and Ribs, and high school proms. Regardless of past experience, though, there is little to prepare one for the feeling of entering that majestic room on Scav Hunt judgment day.
Although not everyone pours his life into Scav Hunt come spring quarter, one can't help but feel immense pride to attend a University where such passion exists.
The hordes of Scav Hunters who have spent the last four days building giant sombreros, heckling Princeton students, and tracking down umbilical cordsthese are our peers. Love them or hate them, there is a certain satisfaction that comes from knowing that there are people on our campus who bring to life the intensity upon which we pride ourselves.
However, although Scav Hunt is often hailed as quintessential U of C, each of the teams that competed this year displays a unique identity, and each team has a unique manner of identifying with the four days of chaos.
G-Sprout (The Vegan Team)
For the Vegan team, Scav Hunt 2004 was not only their inaugural yearit was a proving ground for their way of life.
"People are always saying, Vegans can't do anything. Where do they get their protein?" Andrea Millian, a third-year and Vegan team member, said.
And they did prove that they can indeed do anything. After their road trip car broke down, and their food supplies had run low, they weathered a joke of a call from the judges, suggesting that they call headquarters and pretend that "some major disaster" had befallen then.
"The road trip was a beast. Life was just sucking a lot at that point," Millian explained. But eventually, she said, the Vegan team's road trip decided that members back in Chicago were depending on them, and thus, despite all the hardship, they pulled into Princeton at 5 A.M. on Saturday.
"The sun was just coming up as we were pouring bubbles into their fountain," Millian said triumphantly. "And we did it half naked, because the clue said Don't get your pants wet.'"
Tuck Pointers (Pierce)
For team Tuck Pointers, the answer is obvious. What is the coolest item in Scav Hunt this year, you ask? "Our giant sombrero, number 248. Paper, tape, chicken, wire," said first-year J.J. Schraeder. "Fifty-six square feet."
Even those who did not participate in constructing the object concurred. "The sombrero is pretty cool, I must say," declared second-year Aaron Levine. "I wasn't involved in making it, but it certainly was the coolest item on the list. At various times, we had five or six different people working on it."
The Emperor's New Outfit (Shoreland)
Shoreland's Scav Hunt captain was busy. So busy, in fact, that the only way to talk to him was to follow him downstairs on his way to the bathroom. He identified the coolest item on the list as the potato bazooka, even though he "doesn't believe in gravity."
First-year Johanna Solomon had her own opinion about her team's best item. Tightly clutching a brown envelope to her chest, she explained that she had gone to the hospital dressed as cupid to seek out Dr. Chris Strauss, founder of Scav Hunt, to obtain the coveted 187-point Scav Hunt list from 1987.
"The 1987 list is the holy grail of Scav Hunt," she said, with a mischievous grin.
Not all members of the Shoreland team were as articulate as Solomon. When asked to identify the most exciting item on the list this year, first-year Andy Kiersz replied, "I don't know. I'm kind of preoccupied right now. I'm wearing a thong."
Second-year Anna Bertinger had positive remarks for her team's giant sombrero. "Our sombrero actually looked like a sombrero," she said. "Even though it was ten feet wide."
If Burton-Judson is a haven for the creative and the artistic, so is its Scav Hunt team. What was the team's favorite item on the list this year? Citing the team's Scav Hunt music video, and its "tubulum," nth year Nora Friedman joked, "We don't build things that are items anymore. We just build things for fun."
The team is also very pleased with its station at the Friday night party on the quads.
"First we did DDR. We had a 100-watt PA, we had live music," said third-year and team captain, Brett Westphal. "Our party could be heard on the other side of the Reynolds Club."
"We tell our story like it happened," said second-year Elena Schroeter. "A little confusedly, and probably a little drunkenly."
In addition to the party and Scav items not on the list, members of the B-J Scav Hunt team identified the care bear stare as their favorite item.
"We had to go downtown and harass Goths on their way into a nightclub," said second-year John Bruner.
Team members proudly lifted their shirts to show the remnants of the care bears they had painted on their stomachs for the occasion.
"The Care Bears would all stand in a row, and they would say, do the care bear stare.' And their insignia would light up," explained Bruner.
Phoenix, Bitch (Max Palevsky)
What else besides frenetic energy would one expect from a group of first-years who have been housed in a bright orange building all year? All involved in Max P.'s Scav hunt teamboth those who live in Max P., and those who don'tobviously had come to Scav judgment ready to maintain their two-year winning streak.
"I'm a really competitive person," explained second-year and Broadview resident Patrick Schoolcraft. He said he joined the Phoenix, Bitch team because his dorm hadn't fielded a team, and Phoenix, Bitch had a spot open on its road trip.
"They've been called some variation of Phoenix' every year," he explained.
Playing for Max P. is a unique Scav experience. "All I've noticed about the Max P. Scav Hunt team since I've got here is that the feel is predominantly first-year. All of the captains are first-years." However, he found this to be a something positive about the team rather than a liability.
"It might foster greater connections that will bridge the University when they spread out," he said.
Like the Vegan team, Schoolcraft cited the road trip as the highlight of the list this year.
"The biggest problem was places not being open when we got there. We didn't have time, there were too many items, they were too spread out," he said. However, these limitations didn't stop the team from finding the items they needed.
The team members cited ordering freedom fries in French on the boardwalk and picking up a token from the Taj Mahal casino in Atlantic City as some of their favorite road trip items.
And, although the Max P. team is large enough that its members may favor a number of different items on the list, it is clear to anyone in the Cloister Club during judgment which item those present liked best. The crowd was large enough to block him from view, but standing back, it was obvious that everyone greatly enjoyed watching Phoenix, Bitch team member Phil Caruso eat his own umbilical cord, with a side dish of Twinkie.
As team members often say: "That's right, it's Phoenix, Bitch."
Federation of Independent Scav Hunt Teams
Although team FIST is a relatively new addition to Scav Hunt, members say its ideological roots are as old as Scav itself. FIST owes its lineage to the Matthews House Team, which had been independent from the B-J team in 1987, Scav's first year.
"UT was Lush Puppies,'" said third-year Ashley Meyer. "Lush Puppies joined the Matthews House Team in 2002 and became the FIST."
Meyer said she played with Pierce for the last two years, but when she realized that "Pierce has kind of been dwindling and sucking," she decided that FIST would be a good alternative.
Determining team history is the least of Meyer's concerns, however.
"Yeah, it's stressful. But you can't really get through Scav Hunt without stressing out," she said, spinning a role of duct tape around her fingers.
When asked to choose this year's most interesting item, Meyer was quick to point out Augra's Observatory, until the Rations of the Christ item caught her eye. "It's melting I mean subliming!" she exclaimed.
Second-year Mercedes Gilliom explained the Rations of the Christ item as she poked a fork at the team's dry ice supply.
"We had to combine the ingenuity of funnel cake with the physics of dippin' dots and the chemistry of space ice cream." She explained that the team was going to dip freeze dried strawberries in funnel cake batter and flash then flash try it. "I tried it the other day with bananas and it was awesome," she said.
So who joins FIST? Third-year Katherine McFall has the answer: "We have culled the most awesome and the most righteous from the entire University, and assembled them into the massive behemoth you see before us."
McFall, a self-identified team captain, also explained FIST's innovative organizational structure. "I am a team captain," she said. "The team is composed entirely of team captains. We are all captains," she joked.
As for the judges, McFall said they should be crazier. "The maximum craziness doesn't happen in the judges' circle. It happens around 4:30 A.M.-ish in some team's HQ."
The USS-Sophinista does Gar the Davin Reed Experience (Breck-Hoover)
"Over the last four days I've done the weirdest thing in my life like fifty times over," lamented first-year James Beatty, gesturing at his Calvin Klein bra and panties.
"He's our cupid," one Breck-Hoover team member clarified. And as cupid, Beatty distributed over 600 condoms, in costume, at the Friday night party on the quads in his capacity as his team's cupid.
"It just gets weirder and weirder every time," he said, pointing out the fact that he was wearing women's underwear on his body and duct tape on his chin, and that he was talking about a giant sombrero.
As per the infamous sombrero, Beatty commented, "That big fucking sombrero is absolutely fucking ginormous. We get twelve points per square foot of sombrero surface area, and ours is forty-six or forty-seven square feet."
Team members say the Breck-Hoover team credits its birth to the fact that when Breckinridge closed two years ago, those who had lived there moved to Hoover house, and subsequently convinced their new housemates that smaller Scav Hunt teams allow for a more hands-on experience.
Hitchcapocalyptic-Death Snell (Snell-Hitchcock)
For first-year and page captain Claire Gilbert, Scav Hunt has been somewhat of a metaphysical experience.
"I feel like we're all part of the same hive-mind, as we like to call it. We thought the same thoughts. And it's hard to explain. Personal boundaries disappear, and all our lives merged together into one massive, creative Hitchcapocalyptic-Death Snell team," she said.
Scav Hunt has also facilitated for Gilbert the demystification of the world "fuck."
"Any special power that the word fuck held in my vocabulary has now disappeared," she said. "I've heard it screamed in my ear hundreds of times over the last four days." When pressed further, Gilbert explained that "Our motto is fuckin yeah'two syllables of yeah,' the stress on the second syllable."
And how did all of team Hitchcapocalyptic-Death Snell know this? "We had an entire speech at our rally devoted to the pronunciation of the slogan," Gilbert said.
"I was so tired Thursday night that I spelled my own name wrong on the white board," she mused. At least she had a place to sleep. "The sombrero was mostly just a pain in the neck," she said. "It was more useful as a tent. I took a short rest there last night."
Gilbert continued to explain that the Scav Hunt by-laws proclaim that freedom can only be obtained through "utter chaos." And, surveying the Hitchcock common area, Gilbert said that she has a new appreciation for the term.
"Surveying the Green Room tonight, the leftover papers and pens and cardboard boxes and soda bottles and fabric squares, the definition of chaos came to me with full force."
Walking through the Cloister Club today, it is certainly not obvious that only a few days ago, it hosted giant sombreros, umbilical cords, and hundreds of sleep-deprived U of C studentsU of C students on a mission. And, while the content of that mission may have varied from team to team, one thing is certain: The Cloister Club is safe at least until next year.