The University of Chicago Scavenger Hunt, held every Mother’s Day weekend, has always called itself the largest scavenger hunt in the world, but until this year, it has never really had the right to the title. In celebration of the 25th anniversary of this event, Head Judge Grace Chapin set out to create a special event, a “scav within a scav” as participant Aaron Horton called it, to capture the Guinness Book of World Records title. On the evening of Friday May 6, I joined in on the fun as a participant.
Until this year, the actual title for largest scavenger hunt was held by a group of children from St. Anthony’s Catholic School in Ontario, Canada, at 212 people. But before registration was closed on Friday, judges (students and alums who organize the event) realized that Scav Hunt had surpassed that number, and began turning away people because they were running out of copies of the list. This event wasn’t exclusive to UofC students; as typical of Scav, anyone can participate.
Speaking by phone on Saturday, Head Judge Grace Chapin said that though the judges were still doing final counts, their conservative estimate is that the event had 920 participants, with a five person margin of error. The judges made enough packets for 750 people and expected only 600 participants. But as the line of 200 people stretched on, they rushed to make more.
Isolated within the main quads, participants formed groups of four, and were given an hour to fill in information on a page and a half list, all of which could be gleaned from buildings, landmarks, and judges on the quads. Surprisingly, Chapin said that the list was one of the last things the judges prepared for this event. They were more concerned with finding a space that would align with the requirements of the Guinness Book of World Records, and that was large enough to hold everyone.
When asked whether she thought this event had drastically changed the Scav Hunt from years past, Chapin said she didn’t think so. “So many people considered us to be the world’s largest scavenger hunt anyway,” Chapin said. She and the other judges were excited about the amount of support they had received from the University, and the memory that Scavvies would be left with from participating in this historic event. The judges were also excited about the verve of their participants: “People didn’t just show up and kind of noodle around,” Chapin said.
Though the event won’t officially be considered the world’s largest scavenger hunt until all the paperwork is filed, the judges are confident that their event will be counted. And as for the legacy of this event for the University of Chicago community, Chapin believes that it can only help improve the opinion of Scav on campus. “Now people are saying that its cool, instead of ‘What’s that weird Scav Hunt thing?’”