Treasure Hunt

College days are halcyon with event after event of life-long lessons and invaluable experiences. The memories stack up as you go, enriching the soul with growth-oriented messages. Sometimes I get lost in it all and there is often a sameness so that dates and times slide by endlessly comingled. At other times, a special moment stands out as particularly profitable for the one’s future, and it happened one summer night during break. It was the annual Treasure Hunt.

Perhaps the phrase ”treasure hunt” is a misnomer, but it didn’t matter. It was a group fest that brought students out into the open to work with others in searching for the campus Holy Grail, as minor as it was. You actually met knew people (kind of the idea) and had revelatory conversations. We looked forward to it more than we would admit.

It was one day of constant search and detect. Clues were given in strategic places, not too hard, but clever and enigmatic enough for us to put our heads together and deliberate. We could work in teams or alone. Most chose to have the company. It was limited to campus and the clue sights were easy to find and well-known. Occasionally we would trip up and lose our way. As the day wore on, a few teams would be left anticipating the big prize.

I met a wonderful girl on one such hunt who was to stay with me for some months. It was an automatic and natural attraction and the quest at hand helped bring us together much faster. Maybe that’s why we tried harder than any other team and worked our way to the final four. It got a little competitive in principle at this point and yet we had no idea what constituted a “prize.” Forge on we did and at eight o’clock pm, we were crowned the winners of the annual Treasure Hunt. A lavish fiesta followed to celebrate just being there as good sports.

And what, indeed, was the culmination of it all? The hunt led to a brand new college backpack, simple and unadorned. It lay quietly in the recess of a library stall awaiting discovery. It had a large tag tied to the handle with the campus name and logo on it and the words ”Treasure Hunt Prize.” It was unassuming, but laden with unexpected surprise. Inside was Fodor’s Guide to Europe and two tickets to Paris plus $3000 in traveler’s checks. For a lowly student, this was worth its weight in gold!

There was a message about growth and exploration, about Europe as a treasure hunt paradise and place to expand one’s limited horizons. It was a thoughtful prize this year and much appreciated. Most of us could ill afford such a trip and if we could, it took every penny we had saved for next semester! My girlfriend (her new status) and I gloried in our luck. We intended, of course, to take off on the adventure together. It would be memorable for a lifetime. Your first European jaunt is the best of anything to come in a collegian’s impending life.