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For the totally clueless…

The purpose of the University of Chicago Scavenger Hunt. . . is actually a matter of some debate. A more extensive disquisition on our ontological orientation may be found in our Bylaws, but this much we know: every May, since 1987, the University of Chicago has hosted the largest and best scavenger hunt in the world. Spanning four days, the Hunt is an intense blend of bliss and chaos. The modern Hunt includes a list of items and events, Scav Olympics, and a blood drive benefiting the University of Chicago Medical Center, though the precise form and content evolves from year to year.

Participants and observers know that ScavHunt is a BFD. It is fun, it is brilliant, it is deeply U. of C., and it seems to bring out the best in all of us in unexpected ways. It is occasionally disgusting. But it is in the nature of Scav to be essentially indescribable, and lest you be taken in by all this touchy-feely talk we reference Potter Stewart somewhat freely in saying you’ll know it when you see it, so take a look.

In case that doesn’t satisfy your unquenchable thirst for knowledge, here are some frequently asked questions.

  1. What is Scav?
    “[Scav] is. [Scav] is in itself. [Scav] is what it is.” —Jean-Paul Sartre

  2. When is Scav?
    Scav is often scheduled such that Judgment Day (the last day of the Hunt) is Mother’s Day. The List is released at midnight the preceding Wednesday/Thursday. Incidentally, we all love our mothers very much.

  3. What sort of cool things happen during Scav?
    This is not your elementary school’s scavenger hunt. Every year, the List contains items that must be found in the style of a traditional scavenger hunt, but there are many other items that must be built, performed, written, programmed, drawn, eaten, designed, painted, solved, won, and (sometimes) endured. The best way to get a feel for what kinds of items go on the List is to check out some of the Lists from recent years.

  4. Is this really the world’s largest Scavenger Hunt?
    Scav Hunt was awarded the record for the World’s Largest Scavenger Hunt in 2011. In fact, that event was specially organized to meet Guinness’ narrow definition of a scavenger hunt. The real thing is actually much larger. However, Guinness is a scam and no one should trust breweries to keep track of these things. They gave our record away a few years ago to an infinitely inferior Google event. However…

  5. Is this really the world’s best Scavenger Hunt?

  6. What do I need to do to participate in Scav?
    Do an item. You don’t need any special license, qualifications, or affiliations to complete an item on the List. (Well, except for the items that asked teams to collect motorcycle, gun, psychiatry, liquor, prostitution, phrenology, fishing, marriage, and various drivers licenses. And also those items that asked for a licensed bounty hunter, falconer, and Santa Claus.) If, however, you’d like to receive points for your item, it will help to be in Hyde Park, Chicago on Judgment Day and to be part of a registered team. Scav is big and complicated, and it’s very difficult to actually quantify how many people “participate” each year. Some items require people with special talents, collections, and hobbies. Other items can only be completed if you don’t live in Chicago. Every year, teams call upon friends, family, and total strangers to help do items. Participating is as simple as hearing those calls and saying “yes.”

  7. How is a copyright different from a patent or a trademark?
    Copyright protects original works of authorship, while a patent protects inventions or discoveries. Ideas and discoveries are not protected by the copyright law, although the way in which they are expressed may be. A trademark protects words, phrases, symbols, or designs identifying the source of the goods or services of one party and distinguishing them from those of others.

  8. Are dorms the only groups allowed to field Scav teams?
    Of course not. Dorms provide a natural way for students to organize teams, but Scav has a long history of teams with no dorm affiliation at all.

  9. How do I register a team?
    Instructions to register a team will be posted on this website roughly a month before the Hunt begins. While we encourage you to register before the List is released, we will accept registrations up until Judgment Day. Some items depend on materials provided separately to each team. Late registrants will not be entitled to these goodies. There is no maximum or minimum size for teams, though registering a team that does not compete at all is a great way to get some Heavenly Wrath called down upon you.

  10. What does it mean to be a Captain?
    We ask that every team name at least one Captain to serve as a primary contact. Whenever we have important information to share, it goes to your Captain. Whenever you have an important question to ask, it should come from your Captain. In addition, certain items on the List may apply only to Captains.

  11. What is the Blood Drive?
    The yearly Scav Hunt Blood Drive makes up the bulk of all donations to the University of Chicago Hospital blood bank. It begins the Monday before Scav begins and runs through that Friday. Anybody who donates during that time can sign their name to give credit to a registered team. There are, of course, points involved, but we like to think that participants donate out of the goodness (or at least the pumping) of their hearts. In 2012, the number of donations topped 150.

  12. How do I add Gogo to my party?
    This skilled mime can be found in the stomach of the Zone Eater found in the World of Ruin’s Triangle Island. You must allow your party to be eaten by the Zone Eater, then follow the path to the room where he/she can be found. Once Gogo is added to the party, you will escape the Zone Eater unharmed.

  13. Who writes the List?
    Each year’s List is written by the Judges. This process takes place behind a veil of secrecy. For more information, please lift the veil.

  14. How do I become a Judge?
    Judge applications open at the beginning of October. Be prepared to fill out a written application and submit a sample list of 30 items. (Ain’t no rule says you can’t start working on your sample list right now.) If all goes well, you will be invited to interview with the assembled Judges in early November. Relax. Most of us don’t bite.

  15. How much of a commitment is it to be a Judge?
    To be an active participant in the Judgeship, you must be prepared to attend meetings in Hyde Park twice a week from January to May. During Winter quarter, meetings last about two hours each; in Spring, they can last up to four. During the Hunt itself, expect to be busy 24/4.

  16. Hey, I have an awesome idea for an item!
    Great! Put it on your application list, and we’ll see you in the Fall. Keep in mind, items that attempt to shoehorn your business/club/charity into the Hunt are not good items.

  17. My thirst for knowledge is not yet quenched!
    First, I know you’re excited about Scav if you’ve read this whole FAQ, but I need you to stop shouting. Second, if you have a question that:

    1. Cannot be answered using any of the information on this site (including the Rules section of the most recent List, and yes, even the Bylaws),
    2. Isn’t a total waste of time,
      send an Electronic Mail to uchicagoscav [at] Be warned, they are a busy person, so use this option wisely.