Scav Hunt Valhalla

Most participants in the annual University of Chicago Scavenger Hunt are College students, but there’s no rule saying they have to be. Witness GASH, the Graduate Alumni Scav Hunt team. In its second year, the group is the brainchild of Sam Friedman, AB’04, who wanted to play with his friends and fellow alumni. When I dropped by GASH headquarters Friday afternoon—inside a former preschool with papered-over windows on Hyde Park Boulevard—to see how the team was faring, Friedman and a few fellow alums were pondering if and how they would attempt item 46: “Give us a new Alma Mater we can all be proud of and perform it in front of President Zimmer’s Admin office.”

Like Friedman, each person in the room had been involved in their own dorms’ Scav Hunt teams, often against each other. (“I used to hate Sam’s guts,” volunteered GASHer Alan Mardinly, AB’06.) One described GASH as a kind of “Scav Hunt Valhalla,” where the great heroes of Scav lore lay down their old rivalries and play together.

The GASHers filled me in on a few of the items they were working on. Item 11 (building a moai statue on the quads): they salvaged a steamer trunk left in the alleyway behind their HQ to serve as the body, then added onto it. Item 47 (a classical quartet on the “L”): after a short discussion they decided they could create a respectable quartet from two violins, a cello, and a slide whistle. Item 235 (“The Ark of the Covenant. Ark must be to specs, within reason.”): Clara Raubertas, AB’06, quickly determined that the phrase “within reason” meant that a scale replica would be acceptable.

As I bade the team good day and good luck, I opened the door, illuminating the artificially lit space with glorious sunshine. “Aaaghh!” Friedman winced. “Sunlight!”

Benjamin Recchie, AB’03

The results are in: The Snell-Hitchcock team took home first place, and GASH tied for sixth place.

Slideshow photos by Eric Allix Rogers, AB'05, AM'07 (CC-BY-NC-SA)


  • Audio: Item 8 ("Your success as a Scavvie and a U of C student implies a certain discerning and critical sensitivity for bullshit: you know the best of the worst. Demonstrate your peerless taste by finding the perfect submission for The Annoying Music Show and getting it played on the air. The show broadcasts on Saturday, so you’ll want to get your entry to by Friday night. And remember, when the competition is fierce, music that is merely bad will not be good enough." 13 points, Shoreland team submission)

  • Video: Item 43 ("Render the Sox/Cubs rivalry in the guise of up to ten iconic commercials." 2 points, Maclean Hall and Pierce Tower team submission)

  • Video: Item 51 ("Nothing is worse than a mismatched music video. Re-record the lyrics, keeping the tune, so that they explain what the hell the director was thinking." 8 points, Breckenridge House team submission)

  • Video: Item 105 ("Holy Mackerel! Proselytizing wall fish." 12 points, GASH team submission)

  • Video: Item 111 ("Make and drink a glass of chocolate milk as dramatically as possible." 2 points, Burton-Judson Courts team submission)

  • Video: Item 209 ("Build a vending machine. Vending machines must be coin operated, with multiple button-selected options to choose from. In addition to whatever sugary goodness you choose, machines must vend three other List items when you type in their item numbers." 250 points, Burton-Judson Courts team submission)

  • Video: Item 239 ("Perform the Scav Hunt Theme Song ("Under Pressure") on the greatest instrument of all time: The Mario Paint Composer!" 13 points, Breckenridge House team submission)

  • Video: Item 243 ("Have the Bad Horse Singers deliver a message to your favorite Evil MacArthur Genius." 20 points, F.I.S.T. team submission)

  • Video: Item 267 ("You know that game Labyrinth, where you try to navigate a little ball through a wooden maze? It's fun and all, but not quite deserving of the name. Construct a game of Labyrinth truly worthy of the Goblin King, using dials to navigate a bowling ball through the maze and avoid the pitfalls." 200 points, Burton-Judson team submission)


May 11, 2009