Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, colleges and universities are struggling to find ways for students to get involved on campus while being socially distant. A group of students came up with an idea that would solve those problems: a virtual scavenger hunt. The idea for the interactive scavenger hunt came from a University of Chicago tradition, but according to the supervisor of the Elon Traditions council, professor Jodean Schmiederer, the Elon Traditions Council of Judges customized this to be interactive with the Elon student community.
The From the Flames Challenge includes a semester-long scavenger hunt and other unconventional competitions. According to Schmiederer, it was created to help bring the community together and to encourage students to get to know Elon on a deeper level. The “quirky” scavenger hunt, found on their new Instagram page, encourages students to get to know Elon on a deeper level, while having fun solving clues for challenges.
Some of the past challenges have been going on Club Penguin to find one of the judge’s characters and their virtual pet, a “puffle” named Acorn, and lip-syncing to one of Beyonce’s songs for her birthday while still wearing a mask.
In a group of three to seven people, participants must complete a series of challenges in order to get a chance to win the weekly challenges. Clues and challenges are released on Wednesday at noon, and the teams have until the next Monday by 8 a.m. to complete the challenges.
One of the main features of the event is that the prizes are always different. For week one, the council was giving away $100 Phoenix Cash to the best performing group.
According to Schmiederer, the members of the council have made sure that this scavenger hunt is far from boring and is interactive with the participants to help them acclimate to Elon.
“I just think it’s fun, the whole challenge is intended to be lighthearted and playful during a time when things can feel heavy and lots of ‘we can’t do this’ and ‘we can’t do that’ … We understand why we can’t do those things, but what can we do?” Schmiederer said.
According to Elon Traditions member and junior Liam O’Connor, the scavenger hunt has been uniquely designed to challenge participants’ competition skills. (O’Connor is a member of Elon News Network’s staff).
“There’s a maximum score that we have and we say that you can get 30 points from it, but if you go above and beyond, we’ll give you more points,” O’Connor said. “If we didn’t like that you guys were asynchronous, we are gonna give you guys negative points.”
Freshman Aoife Judge was part of the team that won the first week of the competition and said being a part of the challenges is a new and exciting way for her and her teammates to have fun while being socially distant.
“They posted this video about the judges, and me and my roommate were like, ‘the chaotic energy in that video is just out there and it matched what kind of vibes we were going for with activities we were looking to get involved in at Elon,” Judge said. “It’s kinda nice seeing the new [generation] of different videos and different challenges with the virus.”
The hunt has been made completely flexible. People can switch teams, participate as little or as much as they want and suggest new ways on how to make the challenges better. There are currently 17 teams participating in the challenge.
Judge said this innovative way to stimulate involvement on the campus rivals most of the other ways Elon has tried to involve new students on campus this year.
“We are sitting at our desks on these zoom meetings and it doesn’t feel like you are involved with Elon,” Judge said. “But when you do these things with other people, ... it feels like you’re working towards a goal, and that goal also helps you get more involved with Elon as a whole.”
The Elon Traditions Council has made it easy to sign up. You can either do it through the university’s website by searching From the Flame Challenge or just following the Elon Traditions council on Instagram and click on the link in their bio to sign up.