The Plan

When most people think of a scavenger hunt, what they typically imagine bears only a passing resemblance to The University of Chicago Scavenger Hunt. Mostly, I think, because the scale of the thing so comprehensively exceeds any scavenger hunt you might remember from that middle school trip to the science museum. The scavenger hunt is a common and quite effective activity for engaging youth with any kind of curated collection, because it asks them to use a set of clues as a pattern through which to filter the exhibits, and thus requires them to mentally touch upon a large portion of the collection to find the items that match. The base rubric for this type of activity can be summarized as: a set of clues, each of which identifies a unique item from a collection of many in a non-obvious fashion.

Another widespread format for the common scavenger hunt is the chained puzzle quest. In this variant, an initial clue leads to a location or a challenge, from which a further clue can be extracted, yielding a chain of clues ultimately leading to a prize for the first to finish the chain. This type is a bit more work for the organizer, since the clues usually need to be physically seeded ahead of time, and the clues need to be more carefully conceived, since a failure of one could break the chain and prevent everyone from finishing. Thus, this type is more likely to be remembered as a party game, since educators aren't especially looking to make more work for themselves.

I bring this up because of item 119: Execute The Plan. Remember what I said about the scale of The Scavenger Hunt as compared to most scavenger hunts? As it turns out, this item (along with an initial clue hidden in another item) was an entire chained puzzle quest of its own, spanning both the internet and a large swath of southside Chicago. Now that the Hunt is over, at the 2008 Judges' blog there is an excellent walkthrough of this moderately complex ScavHunt item.

e-pluribus-octem.jpg
Photo of the picture on the back of the Judges' shirts this year, courtesy Emily G.

Octo-Lincoln, for those not in the know, was the most "disagreeable" member of the 2006 roadtrip team. To review, I quote from the 2006 list:

Only one team of seasoned road warriors can successfully deliver Item #142 to his destination: the Mutant Presidents! Shunned by Beltway insiders because of the monstrous appearance, these contorted commanders-in-chief have taken to the backcountry byways on a trip of Wasteward Expansion. Mutant Presidents, sound off! Jabba the Taft! George W. Bush with Kuato Cheney! A Martin Van Buren that's more sideburn than man! And of course, Octo-Lincoln! In their trusty vehicle, the President Ford, they travel America in search of adventure.

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This page contains a single entry by Milligan published on May 17, 2008 2:39 PM.

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