Really, it just goes to show, once again, that University of Chicago is better than everyone else, especially places like Swarthmore (hi, Jed!) and whatever school Columbine's at. :-) I don't know if Swarthmore even *has* a hunt. But let me tell you about Chicago's Scavenger Hunt.
It happens every year, and though I was never part of the committee, I did participate in it a few times. Usually, if you're in a dorm, your floor puts together a team. Some of the grad schools put together a few teams, and some of the student organizations do too. You'd think that someplace like the math department could really stomp a floor of undergraduates, but the dorm floors almost always win, and the grad departments often don't even place.
Maybe that's because very little of this hunt has anything to do with intelligence. It's designed to make you do all sorts of random things. There are sections that involve building things out of things like toothpicks and those little jelly candies (tallest structure wins, which means you need both a bunch of people spending lots of time on it, and a little thought about how much base your structure is going to need to be stable. They get to be multiple stories tall). This is the group of sections that sheer number of people on the team will help with, and dedication.
Then there's the bravery section. Chutzpah might be a better word. Do you have a team member wiling to display themselves wrapped only in saran wrap? Can they sing songs standing on their head? Random embarrassing silly stunts, requiring only the right kind of person.
There's a research section -- questions that you have to go hunt through the library archives for. These don't give you many points per question, but there are a lot of them, and they add up. It's useful having at least one research geek on your team.
Of course, you might want to concentrate your energies on getting the big point item. Every year, there's something massive that'll give you something like 500 points -- certainly not enough to guarantee a win, but enough that teams that didn't get the big points item are going to have to work damn hard to get almost everything else. I was there the year it was a subway car...and one team actually got one. (The hard part was transporting it down to campus, apparently).
And then, of course, there's the road trip. There are three days for the Scavenger Hunt, which is just enough time for part of your team to pile into a car and drive through four states, list in hand, picking up random items from random places (e.g., a little snowflake thingie from a truck stop in Ann Arbor, Michigan). You don't *have* to do the road trip...but you'll probably lose if you don't.
All in all, it's a blast. Some teams get really competitive; most of us just have fun. It's hard to take it too seriously when there are points given for getting a jaywalking ticket (notoriously hard to do in Chicago), or for building the most elaborate sugar cube structure. We've pissed some people off in the process (noted columnist Dave Barry *hates* the Scavenger Hunt because every year a letter from him is an item on the list...and the more he refuses to do it, the more the point value creeps up...). But at a school that's just too geeky for words, it's good that there's a way for geeks to relax a little.
I graduated in 1993 -- here's the list (very badly formatted, but readable) for that year. I swear, I'm not making any of this up...
Now, if only they hadn't gotten rid of the Lascivious Costume Ball. I hear *that* was a real party...