For the past few weeks, Rev. Anne Gardner, Director of Spiritual and Religious Life and Protestant Chaplain, has been running an online scavenger hunt. The scavenger hunt is sent to members of the Andover community via email with the purpose of restoring a sense of campus during quarantine. With a vast number of participants, ranging from students of all grades to cluster deans and Public Safety officers, the scavenger hunt is sent daily every morning by Gardner with a picture of a different part of campus.
Currently on day 40, the scavenger hunt initially started as an activity for Gardner’s advisees in Stevens House. Alana Yang ’21 explained how she appreciates the sense of community that the scavenger hunt fosters.
“About a month ago, [Gardner] sent an email to the entire dorm talking about how she was going to do this scavenger hunt… I thought it would be a fun way to connect to campus and connect to [Gardner]. I feel like one of the great things about [Gardner] is that she’s trying to make the best out of a situation that’s not super great, and I think this is one of her ways of doing that during this crisis while we’re not on campus. It brings the campus to us and makes us feel connected even when we’re not there,” said Yang.
The inspiration for this scavenger hunt came from the lack of students on campus. While Andover would normally be in the middle of Spring Term, quarantine measures across the world have forced the community into the online world as the only means of staying connected. This troubled Gardner, who missed having a direct connection with Andover students. In an email to The Phillipian, Gardner expressed the process of creating the scavenger hunt.
“When I first heard students would not be returning to campus, and instead be required to complete the term on-line, I was deeply saddened. Those of us who are fortunate enough to both work and live amongst the students know the particular vibrancy students bring to this campus. Indeed, it was hard for me to even imagine being here without all of you. Which made me think—if the students couldn’t come to the campus perhaps I could bring the campus to them,” wrote Gardner.
Gardner continued, “I decided to take photographs while on my daily walks and send them out as clues to a (virtual) campus scavenger hunt. Just as something fun. I started on the first day students were originally slated to return to campus and I told everyone I would continue until students returned to campus or Commencement, whichever came first!”
Gardner’s scavenger hunt soon gained more attention than anticipated, as participants beyond Stevens like Emma Slibeck ’20, a resident of Alumni House, began playing. Slibeck wrote in an email to The Phillipian about her experience with the scavenger hunt.
“There are so many things and places on campus that I just never noticed which is kind of crazy to think about considering I have been here for four years now. I think it’s also really fun to just stay connected to each other and campus,” wrote Slibeck.
Stevens resident Sophie Glaser ’22 was surprised by the number of new locations Gardner introduced to her throughout the scavenger hunt.
“There are all these spots I had no idea were even on campus. There are some really cool and beautiful ones. There’s this walk of trees behind a building down on the old Abbot campus that is really cool, and I would have never gone behind that building. I didn’t know it was there, so being able to see that and receiving emails from my house counselor every day has been really uplifting,” said Glaser.
The scavenger hunt has reminded its participants of school, their friends, and campus during this time of quarantine. As stated by Glaser, this scavenger hunt has helped those off-campus stay connected to the Andover community.
“I feel happier after every time I get an email about the new spot, and it’s been fun trying to figure out where each one is. The girls in my dorm will all talk about it together. We have these weekly Zoom calls together so we will catch up with each other about it and it also helps us stay connected because now I’m emailing my house counselors, and we’re all just having a good time. I think it’s helping us. Even if we’re not talking in the moment, we’re mentally connected and thinking about campus,” said Glaser.