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The Scarlet & Black

The Scarlet & Black

WHO’s not afraid of the big, bad werewolves

Among last weekend’s Halloween ruckus, you may have heard the occasional howl resonating throughout the Grinnell campus and wondered if there were werewolves running around. These howls actually belong to the human members of WHO—Grinnell’s unofficial Werewolf Hunters’ Organization, led by Molly Kennedy ’11 and Eric Tjossem ’12.

The howls are the battle cries of the members of Grinnell’s WHO, which holds Werewolf Treasure Hunts from September to November. Kennedy described the WHO as a “somewhat-elaborate in joke with DAG,”—an abbreviation for the Daghorir club—that hosts the Werewolf Treasure Hunts as an alternative form of battle.

“A Werewolf Treasure Hunt battle is a fun and violent version of a scavenger hunt crossed with capture the flag,” Kennedy said. 

The Werewolf Treasure Hunt puts an interesting twist on werewolf folklore, which originates from widespread wolf attacks on humans in Europe. During the battle, participants are divided into teams of werewolves and humans. The ultimate goal for the humans is to obtain the “Silver Dagger”—a small DAG sword—by following a series of clues, while fighting off the werewolves and “killing” them with their foam swords. The goal for the werewolves is to “bite” the humans, thus turning them into werewolves.

The battle requires a surprising amount of stamina, along with physical and mental exertion. Depending on the circumstances the battle can last for hours on end, which are spent running all over campus, battling with oversized weapons and shields, deciphering clues and strategizing the next move. The physical activity keeps a constant flow of adrenaline pumping to keep fighters warm in the chilly fall winds, and the weird stares from on-lookers provide bursts of hilarity that make the time fly by.

“[The Werewolf Treasure Hunt is] my personal favorite [DAG battle],” Tjossem said. “Players respond well to the tension and paranoia created by Werewolf, and it’s definitely a completely different experience from a treasure hunt in which no pressure exists.”

According to Tjossem, Jacob Cram ’06—also known by his DAG alias Vulture—founded the Werewolf Treasure Hunt back in 2003. Since its creation, the event has been something of a tradition for Grinnell’s DAG club, although some may be disappointed to find out that the supposed werewolf club of Grinnell does not partake in any other werewolf-related activities beyond the Werewolf Treasure Hunt. Rather, Kennedy came up with the idea for the somewhat fictitious WHO, in order to promote the continuation of the Werewolf Treasure Hunt battle as well as to attract new members for DAG.

“The Werewolf Hunter’s Organization is not actually a club on campus. It’s kind of a marketing tool that Eric Tjossem and I created to get people to show up to a Werewolf Treasure Hunt battle. It’s aimed towards people who’ve never participated in DAG before who are curious enough to wonder who on earth could be hunting werewolves on this campus,” Kennedy said.

So far their ploy has been working in bringing some would-be werewolves out into the moonlight. “Werewolf tends to attract a wider crowd, even townies and students who don’t regularly come to DAG,” Tjossem said.

Regardless of the WHO’s lack of official club status, the Werewolf Treasure Hunt will always be an epic battle, as well as an opportunity to experience the DAG’s vibrant battle culture. So for all you closet DAG aficionados out there, contact organizers [tjosseme] or [kennedym] for future WHO battles. They don’t bite, but they might just whack you with a foam sword.

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