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Members of the Phi Delta Kappa team that won $2,000 in the base scavenger hunt last weekend pose for a photo with Japanese firefighters at a Misawa city fire station. One of 261 items or tasks on the scavenger hunt list was to collect a team photo in front of a red fire truck; base fire trucks are yellow. Team members were Carol Powell, Lori Grant, Louise Warner, Ann Mitchell, David Wray, Patti Rzeznik, Deborah Markl and Connie Kaiser.

Members of the Phi Delta Kappa team that won $2,000 in the base scavenger hunt last weekend pose for a photo with Japanese firefighters at a Misawa city fire station. One of 261 items or tasks on the scavenger hunt list was to collect a team photo in front of a red fire truck; base fire trucks are yellow. Team members were Carol Powell, Lori Grant, Louise Warner, Ann Mitchell, David Wray, Patti Rzeznik, Deborah Markl and Connie Kaiser. (Courtesy of Bud Warner)

Members of the Phi Delta Kappa team that won $2,000 in the base scavenger hunt last weekend pose for a photo with Japanese firefighters at a Misawa city fire station. One of 261 items or tasks on the scavenger hunt list was to collect a team photo in front of a red fire truck; base fire trucks are yellow. Team members were Carol Powell, Lori Grant, Louise Warner, Ann Mitchell, David Wray, Patti Rzeznik, Deborah Markl and Connie Kaiser.

Members of the Phi Delta Kappa team that won $2,000 in the base scavenger hunt last weekend pose for a photo with Japanese firefighters at a Misawa city fire station. One of 261 items or tasks on the scavenger hunt list was to collect a team photo in front of a red fire truck; base fire trucks are yellow. Team members were Carol Powell, Lori Grant, Louise Warner, Ann Mitchell, David Wray, Patti Rzeznik, Deborah Markl and Connie Kaiser. (Courtesy of Bud Warner)

David Wray — with Lori Grant, left, and Carol Powell — wears the M&M tie that earned the Phi Delta Kappa team points in last weekend’s scavenger hunt at Misawa.

David Wray — with Lori Grant, left, and Carol Powell — wears the M&M tie that earned the Phi Delta Kappa team points in last weekend’s scavenger hunt at Misawa. (Jennifer H. Svan / S&S)

MISAWA AIR BASE, Japan — One member stepped in a hole and rolled on the beach. The lone male shaved his legs. The whole team encountered language differences to get a photo snapped by a red fire truck off base.

Winning $2,000 in the 35th Services Squadron’s scavenger hunt last week wasn’t easy.

For eight Department of Defense Dependents Schools Pacific employees at Misawa, the key to victory was creativity, resourcefulness and assistance from a network of community members.

Helping, too, was that the team was comprised of Phi Delta Kappa members who planned to donate any cash prize to the educational fraternity.

“We think doors opened to us that wouldn’t have opened for other teams because people knew we were working for charity,” said team co-captain Lori Grant, a gifted-education teacher at Sollars Elementary School.

In all, 35 teams competed. Also up for grabs were a $500 second prize and a $250 third prize.

“The event went great,” said organizer John Visneski, in a written response, noting more people took part than expected. The scavenger hunt was part of Services’ Customer Appreciation Week.

Teams had 24 hours to find or produce up to 261 items, worth varying points based on difficulty. Visneski said one of the stranger items found was two actual Cindy Lauper concert ticket stubs. One team checked out all 100 books by Nora Roberts — to keep others from scoring in that category — while another team bought a bottle of Chanel No. 5 and put the rest on layaway.

The PDK team collected about 250 items. Some things proved impossible to find, such as a toupee, a Venus fly-trap plant, a Chia pet and an Atari game cartridge.

Other times, luck was a factor: A chance encounter with the Naval Air Facility Misawa commander in the commissary produced an operations coin and one team member, a Barbie doll collector, owned the 2000 Holiday Barbie.

With help from others, the teachers found things such as a ferret leash, a Fourth of July birth certificate, a roll of pennies and a Maine souvenir spoon.

Mostly, they improvised and hustled.

A tie with M&M candy wrappers stapled to it qualified as an “M&M tie,” and a T-shirt with lipstick marks and a picture of the rock group Kiss glued to the back earned points for the “Kiss T-shirt.” The beach tumble came as the group trudged in deep snow out to the base beach to get a team picture in straw hats. And it was Sollars’ teacher David Wray who shaved his legs.

“I’m paying for it now,” Wray said Monday of his itchy legs. “You know, you just got to go for it.”

Some of the $2,000 prize will be used to jump start a new PDK project to purchase a children’s book for every baby born on base — an estimated 300 annually. The rest will go into PDK’s scholarship fund for high school graduates and adults entering the education field.

“Services did a wonderful job,” said PDK team captain Carol Powell. “They chose things that were safe.”

Added Grant, “It was a great event for community morale. It felt like being on the ‘Amazing Race.’”

author picture
Jennifer reports on the U.S. military from Kaiserslautern, Germany, where she writes about the Air Force, Army and DODEA schools. She’s had previous assignments for Stars and Stripes in Japan, reporting from Yokota and Misawa air bases. Before Stripes, she worked for daily newspapers in Wyoming and Colorado. She’s a graduate of the College of William and Mary in Virginia.

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