The Pterodactyl Hunt: A Psi Phi Tradition

One of the age-old traditions you might hear about at Swarthmore is the Pterodactyl Hunt, which occurs every fall around late October/early November. I participated in my very first Pterodactyl Hunt last year, and I can tell you that it is just as fantastically crazy as it sounds.

The mascot for Psi Phi. Photo taken from Psi Phi Facebook page

First, a quick note on Psi Phi. Despite the somewhat misleading spelling of the name, Psi Phi is not a fraternity; it’s a club for people who enjoy board games, Star Wars and/or Star Trek (or neither), anime, communism or capitalism, Tolkien, dad jokes, all of the above, or something else. I think of it lovingly as the nerd club, since it’s just a group of people who enjoy hanging out and doing silly things together.

One of those silly things is the Pterodactyl Hunt. The theme changes every year and is voted on by the club, but the basic premise stays the same. There are three pterodactyls (people equipped with large wooden wings and squirt guns) that appear on campus and are lead by a fearsome Leader of Evil (the specific name depends on the theme). They bring with them an army of bad guys equipped with foam swords. Everyone else is there to fight the bad guys and eventually kill the pterodactyls (by knocking out two velcro-attached circles on their wings and then delivering a final death blow by foam sword to the pterodactyl).

There are also fun side quests for anyone not interested in fighting; this year, the theme was Halloween, so one of those quests involved teaching a mummy a new dance move for his party.

Overall, it’s a lot of fun, and we tend to get a lot of people that don’t go to club meetings for Psi Phi but come to the Pterodactyl Hunt. I got to meet one senior who has gone to the Pterodactyl Hunt every year but has never been to a Psi Phi meeting.

I will point out that a bonus of going to Psi Phi meetings is that you get to sign up to be a special character in the Pterodactyl Hunt, like “Hooded figure” or “Jabberwocky monster”. Personally, I got to experience my first Pterodactyl Hunt as one of the three pterodactyls.

Photo of me dressed up and ready to be a pterodactyl. As you can see, I am practicing my pterodactyl screech.

Tl/dr: The Pterodactyl Hunt is awesome and you should go if you get the chance to.


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