122. Titrate an acid using bass. [7pH points]
May 10, 2018 10:48 AM   Subscribe

The 30th annual UofC ScavHunt is officially here! Every year the run-up to Mother's Day sees the latest iteration of nerdy insanity that is the Scavenger Hunt at the University of Chicago. And folks, it's that time again. In addition to the in-excess-of-300-item, legendarily inscrutable list, each year's Hunt loosely follows a theme, which often plays a major role in the Road Trip, and the day before Judgment Day those team members so inclined assemble for the Scav Olympics. Lists of yore. Previously. Previouslier.

Wikipedia: "The University of Chicago Scavenger Hunt (or Scav Hunt, colloquially Scav) is an annual four-day team-based scavenger hunt held at the University of Chicago from Thursday to Sunday of Mother's Day weekend in May. The list of items, usually over 300 items long, encompasses cryptograms, competitions, build challenges, a 3 course meal, and a 2,000 mile road trip. "Scav Hunt" is well known for its quirky, strange, or impossible items. Scav held the Guinness World Record for largest scavenger hunt from 2011 to 2014."

New Yorker: Christopher Straus, University of Chicago class of ’88, created the school’s first scavenger hunt, in 1987, envisioning a modest diversion, limited to his dorm, whose purpose was to instill a sense of camaraderie. These days, many of the items on that first list seem like easy pickings—a hula hoop (10 points), a training bra (25 points), a painting on velvet (20 points).Then again, Item No. 93 was a nude dean, bound and gagged (500 points). Since then, scavvies have been asked to unboil an egg; induce a potato to break the sound barrier; eat their own umbilical cord (one student, having persuaded his mother to express-mail the membranous keepsake she’d saved from his birth, stuck it into a Twinkie and swallowed it); get circumcised (someone did); and bring a lion, a tiger, or a bear to campus. In 1999, for five hundred points, a pair of physics students built a working nuclear breeder reactor in a Burton-Judson dorm room in one day, converting thorium powder collected from the inside of vacuum tubes into weapons-grade uranium, using a device made from scrap aluminum and carbon sheets. A concerned nuclear physicist attested to the machine’s efficacy.

New York Times: And how do you say fun on a college campus better than a keg toss? As part of the Scavolympics, a string of a dozen events before the final judging that teams compete for points in, all 13 teams came together to recreate a battle of the Civil War, to demonstrate a fight between Aunt Jemima and Mrs. Butterworth, and, yes, to toss a keg.

Business Insider: "159. The Escape Machine can take us to far-away places, but the Judges would rather travel through time. In the style of Voyages SNCF, starting from an unidentifiable black cube and using human and mechanical elements, take us to another decade in a one-minute temporal explosion of sight and sound. [100 points]"
(Article notable for fulfilling item #152 from that year's list: “This Crazy College’s Coed Scavenger Hunt Blew Our Minds, Such That We Were Forced To Write About Them On This Totally Legit Professional Internet Blog” [Up 10 points based on noteworthiness of website via Alexa scale].)
posted by myotahapea (31 comments total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
 
When I was a wee undergraduate, I participated on a team with an Enthusiastic Scavvie. She saw the item "A tattoo reading 'Sorry about the syphilis, can we still be cousins?' and said 'Yes. I'm in.'"

She got that tattoo. I saw it.

She got that tattoo by driving across state lines to Indiana, because she was under 21.

She got that tattoo by convincing a tattoo artist to give it to her. (It was on her hip, and the letters formed the outline of a heart, so she could fill it in later BUT WHY WOULD SHE.)

She convinced that tattoo artist even though I'm pretty sure she was handcuffed to another girl at that time.

She was handcuffed to another girl at that time because she had volunteered for an item that said "Show up with your best friend" and she grabbed a girl she was barely acquainted with and said, "Let's just be best friends for this team challenge" which wound up being "Now you'll spend the next few days handcuffed to your best friend!"

I haven't seen her since but her powers of persuasion must have carried her far in life.

My Scav Hunt powers of persuasion were limited to running around a hall and asking women "Can you just hold this milkshake for a moment all right thanks can you also tell me if you're on your period we need to make it as ritually unclean as possible all right now I'm off to dedicate it to Thor."
posted by Hypatia at 11:50 AM on May 10, 2018 [34 favorites]


RE: the 99 New Yorker article, Justin and I (Hi everyone, I’m Fred) were originally promised 11! (factorial) points or ... around 39.9e6 points, essentially an automatic win. In the spirit of fairness to all, after we admitted we were going to pull it off, the item value was rescaled, and the rest is history. Anyhow, there’s a book coming out this time next year about Scav escapades with working title “We Made Uranium” and my retelling of the whole sordid tale figures prominently. The reactor is something that has come up at nearly every job interview and client chat, nearly 20 years on. I do hope the 2019 Hunt has some kind of throwback item to the glory days. If so I might even have to make an appearance at the 2019 Hunt...
posted by cyclotronboy at 12:21 PM on May 10, 2018 [50 favorites]


This is why I love MetaFilter - not only sharing wonderful, weird things from around the world (and web), but also anecdotes from people who lived it.
posted by filthy light thief at 12:23 PM on May 10, 2018 [5 favorites]


And back in college, some friends wanted to make The Hardest Scavenger Hunt Ever. We had never heard of Scav, which is probably for the best, because they might have either been dejected to learn of this far superior effort, driven to make their own, even harder version , or we might have driven across country to compete, because why not?
posted by filthy light thief at 12:25 PM on May 10, 2018


@hypatia - I remember that tattoo!
posted by cyclotronboy at 12:25 PM on May 10, 2018 [1 favorite]


Scav is like the Barkley Marathons of scavenger hunts.
posted by lagomorphius at 12:32 PM on May 10, 2018 [1 favorite]


2017 8th Place
Team Affiliation: Queer Scav; Team Name: The Lavender Scare


I now have a new team name for everything. Bowling, Battletech Lance, Rec Volleyball League, Second Child. EVERYTHING.
posted by Abehammerb Lincoln at 12:42 PM on May 10, 2018 [2 favorites]


@hypatia - I remember that tattoo!

Yeah I think that was also the year of the Umbilical Cord Twinkie which I also saw the kid eat.

I think my favorite memory, though, is lurking on the quad when my housemates--attired in cloud-diapers made of pillow stuffing and wielding suction-cup bow and arrows--spotted a wedding party making their way out of Bond Chapel. The happy pair were immediately swarmed by scantily clad undergraduates, who gamboled about and blessed their union in the name of Cupid.
posted by Hypatia at 1:05 PM on May 10, 2018 [5 favorites]


A friend of mine claims to have been a writer for Scav; given age, it would be sometime in the second half of the 90s. I'm going to have to press him if he was involved in that project and I honestly wouldn't be surprised.
posted by cobaltnine at 1:06 PM on May 10, 2018


I think my favorite memory, though, is lurking on the quad when my housemates--attired in cloud-diapers made of pillow stuffing and wielding suction-cup bow and arrows--spotted a wedding party making their way out of Bond Chapel. The happy pair were immediately swarmed by scantily clad undergraduates, who gamboled about and blessed their union in the name of Cupid.

Was this the year there were a bunch of little agapes handing out condoms on the quad? If so we overlapped!
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 1:21 PM on May 10, 2018 [3 favorites]


As a first-year, way back in the aughts, I remember the item:

- Wolfenstein in the Regenstein with Rammstein in the background. Bonus points for maps of Schleswig-Holstein.

I didn't sleep from Wednesday to Sunday, learning how to build a map in Quake III, but I got it working, with the bonus maps. By the end of it, I was barely coherent, but the judges seemed to love it. Then I found out my roommate ate a whole 1 and a quarter pound onion raw for ScavOlympics.

Seriously, "Asche zu Asche" is the best Rammstein song. fite me if you think it's anything else except maybe "Feuer Frei".
posted by anem0ne at 1:32 PM on May 10, 2018 [6 favorites]


Oh, man. I think that was also the year my friend with the best villain name ever made a Tetris game on a background of the Hancock Center before we found out they actually wanted it on the real building.

His name? Max Bane.
posted by anem0ne at 1:37 PM on May 10, 2018


Yeah I think that was also the year of the Umbilical Cord Twinkie which I also saw the kid eat.

To be clear, the item in question was something to the effect of "A scavvie with their own umbilical cord, bonus points if they eat it in front of a judge". One scavvie's poor mother had saved his umbilical cord in the freezer all these years, and that scavvie, determined to get the bonus points, decided that embedding the organ in a twinkie was the best way to get it down.
posted by firechicago at 1:48 PM on May 10, 2018 [6 favorites]


I will be deeply disappointed if the Drunk History item this year doesn't include the tale of the infamous Tent-HQ on the Crerar quad--which I think played a part in why U of C Risk Management now pays close attention to Scav. Maybe I'll record one and send it in to GASH (the Grad/Alum Scav Hunt team) for kicks.

Additional reading: this year's fake list, which is basically just 4+ pages of Air Bud puns
posted by egregious theorem at 1:49 PM on May 10, 2018 [1 favorite]


Also, my favorite item of all time will always be the one that required teams to write slash-fic about famous communists and host it on a .su domain.
posted by firechicago at 1:50 PM on May 10, 2018 [2 favorites]


My faculty had a similar scavenger hunt; perhaps not so advanced but I do have fond memories of replicating Pieter Bruegel the Elder's The Misanthrope, to scale on foamcore, using exclusively ketchup and Cheez-Whiz.
posted by Homeboy Trouble at 1:55 PM on May 10, 2018 [1 favorite]


Obligatory: inb4 anyone compares this to GISHWHES. Misha Collins is a Maroon, and GISHWHES is based on Scav.
posted by capricorn at 3:10 PM on May 10, 2018 [2 favorites]


Metafilter Scav reunion. I was captain of the team that won during the tattoo and Twinkie eating year. I also remember Wolfenstein in the Regenstein!

Regarding the team-mates who had to be handcuffed together:

This item was written by a judge who was an extremely kind person , but I can think of no greater psychological torment than being handcuffed to another person for four days. Especially during Scav Hunt when sleep was limited and emotions ran high.

The women on my team who participated in this item were close friends, but round about hour forty-eight they had both dissolved into tears due to some conflict and also the ongoing stress of trying to close the bathroom stalls or shower with another human attached only a foot away. They very apologetically begged to be separated, and as captain it was my job to call the judge whose item this was, because she held the key to the cuffs.

Though we would lose out on maximizing points if we bailed early, it seemed obvious to me that it needed to happen. The judge over and uncuffed them and twenty minutes later they were LAUGHING and SITTING TOGETHER and they apologized to me some more but I said there’s really nothing to be sorry about. And that’s Scav Hunt. Weird stunts that get invested with way more emotional intensity than they would otherwise merit.
posted by mai at 4:22 PM on May 10, 2018 [7 favorites]


It remains a very minor point of pride that despite not even going to the U of C, my then place of residence (at another university) inspired a Scav Hunt list item. (I always wished I could have participated in Scav Hunt rather than Mystery Hunt; I'm better at last-minute artwork and bad ideas than puzzle-solving, alas.)
posted by ubersturm at 6:31 PM on May 10, 2018 [1 favorite]


The block-email-chain is brilliant, BRB starting my own new-old technology currency company.
posted by subdee at 7:36 PM on May 10, 2018


cyclotronboy, did your team finish second despite the working breeder reactor, as is the internet legend?
posted by tavella at 8:07 PM on May 10, 2018 [1 favorite]


RE: the 99 New Yorker article, Justin and I (Hi everyone, I’m Fred) were originally promised 11! (factorial) points or ... around 39.9e6 points, essentially an automatic win.

Omg. Hi!!! I feel like I just met a celebrity!! You have no idea how excited I got reading that!!!!
posted by astapasta24 at 9:02 PM on May 10, 2018 [1 favorite]


@Tavella - yep. 2nd place. It was just Mathews house against the world that year - the last year we could manage to do just a single residence house team. good times. good times.
@astapasta24 - nice to meet you :)

@MrsPterodactyl - i'm class of '99 physics - sounds like we all probably did overlap. Talk about MeFi UofC reunion... :)
posted by cyclotronboy at 5:29 AM on May 11, 2018 [1 favorite]


Also, I'm AB '12 so didn't overlap with most folks here, but hi to everyone nonetheless! DID YOU KNOW HYDE PARK HAS A GODDAMN TARGET NOW. I can tell you however that I was in Jimmy's most recently one year ago and it has not changed at all.
posted by capricorn at 9:34 AM on May 11, 2018 [2 favorites]


Hypatia, we were teammates! I think I was a page captain that year, and ended up captain captaining a year or two later!
posted by yeahlikethat at 11:01 AM on May 11, 2018 [1 favorite]


Huh. I was '05?

And ugh, separatist Mathews, just because you didn't want to be a part of Greater Burton-Judson under the stewardship of Dodd-Mead.
posted by anem0ne at 11:19 AM on May 11, 2018 [1 favorite]


Y'all had a few single-house team years when I was there, so there's that!
posted by anem0ne at 11:20 AM on May 11, 2018


Mathews is LOVE! Mathews forever! Forever! forever alone
posted by cyclotronboy at 11:28 AM on May 11, 2018 [1 favorite]


I can tell you however that I was in Jimmy's most recently one year ago and it has not changed at all.

Did you notice the veggie burger?
posted by lagomorphius at 11:28 AM on May 11, 2018 [1 favorite]


Veggie burger?! Unacceptable. Pitchers of MGD for everyone! (do they even still make that beer?)
posted by cyclotronboy at 11:37 AM on May 11, 2018 [2 favorites]


Did you notice the veggie burger?

I attempted to order the Leinenkugel shandy which was prominently advertised as on special, only to be told "what shandy? I don't think we have that", so I'm assuming ordering the veggie burger would have a similar result.
posted by capricorn at 1:53 PM on May 11, 2018 [1 favorite]


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