Mason community joins together for The Hunt

A team of students consults The Hunt's solution sheet to see if they are on the right track to winning $1,000. (Jake McLernon) 

Close to 500 members from the George Mason University community participated in The Hunt on Saturday, a Connect2Mason Welcome Week event that led participants around campus and its perimeter solving mindbender puzzles that featured Mason student groups, athletics, offices and nearby businesses.

Participants in the event, which was open to students, faculty, staff and alumni, competed for two separate grand prizes. Student Teams competed for $1,000. Mason Community Teams – participating teams that included faculty, staff or alumni – competed for Kindles.

The Hunt, which drew inspiration from the Washington Post’s Post Hunt and Miami Herald’s Herald Hunt, received wide university support in its preparation, including from upper administration. President Alan Merten and Provost Peter Stearns filmed promotional videos – joining ranks with many other “Mason celebrities” including Men's Basketball Head Coach Paul Hewitt, Director of Athletic Bands Doc Nix, the owner of Josie’s Frozen Yogurt Jeanne Shewmaker and even the Patriot Mascot. President Merten also kicked off the event, reading off the coordinates for the first puzzles.

Team “Roamin’ Catholics,” a large group of students from Catholic Campus Ministry, solved the endgame puzzle first, winning the grand prize. After the game’s five main puzzles, the team figured out that an altered version of the school fight song performed by the Phi Mu Alpha music fraternity led them to the Mason Inn. In the conference’s ballroom, they faced an elaborate riddle based on photos in the hotel’s lobby that told the team captain to place their Mason ID in the hand of the George Mason statue.

“My teammate said ‘Why don’t we just try it?’ and I said ‘Do it’,” said Mike Matthews, team captain of the Roamin’ Catholics. “Turned out to be the right thing to do,”

Teams were then instructed to text the executive editor of Connect2Mason, who called to congratulate them on winning The Hunt.

Nine other students from Catholic Campus Ministry made up the team with Matthews: Jayson Padilla, Robert Novitsky, Aimee DeSoto, Amy Fitzpatrick, Cece Moschetto, Rachel Ferguson, Julia-Anne Smith, Christina Matthews and Jess Campbell.

“Our strategy was to play it cool, sit back and think before acting,” said Matthews. “We split our team into two groups and maintained constant contact to solve more clues faster and cover more ground, giving us an edge.”

A team of alumni, Elizabeth Dalton and Jocelyn Hanly, won the grand prize in the Mason Community category. Roommates while at Mason, Dalton drove up from the Shennandoahs to compete with Hanly in the event.

Two of the main puzzles featured student groups and athletics as parts of the puzzles themselves. A location outside of the Corner Pocket Game Room featured the hip-hop dance group Urbanknowlogy. A puzzle in the Recreational Athletic Complex featured two athletics teams; when participants found themselves in the Cage Gym, they found both the men’s volleyball and men’s basketball teams.

Other puzzles included a giant chess set on top of the Shennandoah Parking Deck, a crossword riddle at St. Robert Bellarmine Chapel and a rigged shell game in the courtyard of University Mall.

The Patriot Mascot, Mason Dining Duckie, and Mason Cheerleaders all were present at the Pre-Hunt Festivities before the event, which included breakfast and t-shirts for the first participants, booths for the event’s sponsor’s a musical performance by the student rapper V.

Photos of the event can currently be found on Connect2Mason’s Facebook page. Winners of the Team Photo Contest will also be announced there this week, as will the names of participants who won the raffle for free Mason gear. 

Follow the @C2MTheHunt on Twitter to be the first to know when video explanations of the puzzles are online and available to watch.


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