April 29, 2011

No crying matter

Those new to Scav Hunt should enjoy it without stressing over competition

Scav—the yearly University-wide scavenger hunt—is kind of a big deal. And when the list gets released on Wednesday night, it will be the biggest ordeal on campus all the way through Judgment Day (Sunday). Participants will undergo challenges they didn’t even know were physically, mentally, or emotionally possible. They will build things up and break them down again (sometimes by ingesting them). There might be blood. There will be sleep deprivation and group sing-alongs to early 90s rap. There will be laughter. And oh, there will be tears.

Before I begin, I should disclose my own Scav background. I’ve participated, but I wouldn’t consider myself a “scavvie,” or a person for whom Scav borders on a way of life. As a Shoreland to South Campus transplant, and then an apartment expatriate, my allegiance doesn’t lie with any one team, but rather with one of my friends who is really, really into Scav. During Scav itself, she sends me items to do. My response is invariably: okay, fine, just this once…oh wait! I get to write a rap? This is awesome! And thus, I’m sucked in, and for the most part, the experience is pretty awesome (dance party in Rockefeller, anyone?)

However, while Scav is certainly something to get excited about, and to take seriously, it isn’t something to get upset over. Not unlike recreational soccer leagues, the greater the tradition of winning is for a given team, the more intense the experience is. Participants run the gamut of kids who really, really care to those who accidentally sleep through the game. Among the kids who really care, some are driven by a love of the sport, and others are driven by scary moms in minivans, who also drive them to karate practice, piano lessons, and orchestra rehearsal.

If you’re not very familiar with Scav, you might only know the major players: Snell-Hitchcock always wins, and Max P always gets close. BJ and MacPierce are pretty good (My Scav friend is predicting that BJ will even win this year). South Campus is better than expected. Broadview and Flint House (a Max P. emigrant) are Blint. And then there’s a team for people in apartments. I’m no doubt leaving out other teams.

Basically, for the most part, Scav teams are very much dorm traditions, and older members induct the newbies. This fosters both a community and a hierarchy. Scavvies who are part of highly competitive teams don’t want to disappoint their captains and teammates, and winning the game—or coming close—is the way to avoid this. For their own part, the older members of the teams probably aren’t aware of the “culture of pressure” that they’re creating by making Scav such a big deal, because they’re right in the middle of it.

As a result, you sometimes see people crying on Judgment Day when they don’t get enough points awarded to them. I have to say this is where Scav actually gets outrageous. I come from a strict no-crying family (“Crying doesn’t solve anything!”—Dad), so naturally that means I cry at every opportunity, especially during that scene in The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants when America Ferrera’s character confronts her father (gets me every time).

But unlike The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, Scav is not a crying matter. It’s supposed to be fun, or at the very least, an exciting challenge. No matter their affiliation, people get roped up in Scav because it has an energy about it that makes it irresistible. Many of the items are meant to be impossible, and that’s part of the appeal—it’s one of those shooting for the moon and landing among the stars things. However, with Scav, sometimes you don’t break out of the atmosphere, and you end up hitting a tree. And when that happens, you shouldn’t have to feel terrible for failing, but should just be excited that you were shot out of a cannon, or whatever wacky item had you aiming for the exosphere in the first place.

Scav will utterly pummel you, but remember to try to enjoy it.

Alison Howard is a third-year in the College majoring in English.