Informant: The informant in question was a sophomore screenwriting major at USC. White, female, and a Los Angeles native. She attended the Archer School, an upper-class girl’s private school in Brentwood.
Transcription: Umm… Oh senior scavenger hunt was all verbal! Okay, so senior scavenger hunt, it was at the beginning of senior year and there was like someone in charge and like, the person who was in the year above who was in charge of it would pass it on to their friend in the grade below and then that person would tell us all the things we had to find and we had to like, go around L.A. and sing on the Promenade and like somebody had to get a tattoo. Umm, you automatic won if you got a tattoo. Oh! and we like had to talk to people who sold drugs. (laughter) do you really love it?
What else? And then we would all meet at In-N-Out.
Was there some sort of award?
What was the endgoal?
You just had to get as many things off the list as you could. And then there was a sleepover. Bonding was the goal.
Okay. Why is this significant to you?
Because I feel like it built teamwork and it was like a really fun activity to pair with team-building and bonding as a grade like even though it was a competition we still bonded.
Who’d you learn it from? I’m guessing the person in the grade above who passed it on?
Analysis: This ritual serves as a sort of initiation rite into the senior class. Rather than being passed on through the school itself, it only gets passed from senior class to senior class and no underclassman really knows the full details of the event until they’re actively taking part in it. Like many initiation rituals, it focuses on the actions of a group – in this case, the members of an upper-class Los Angeles girls’ school.
Considering how sparse the individual’s description of the event itself was, it’s clear that the true focus of the event was not the scavenger hunt itself at all. Rather, the experience of doing the strange tasks and the camaraderie that stemmed naturally from that experience produced the intended effect of the hunt, giving the girl’s a common goal and set of experiences that tied them all together as they entered their senior year, an important transitional phase in any student’s life.