In August of 2014 I decided to do something that I had been wanting to do for a long time. Year after year, I read and followed (digitally) thousands of people doing amazing things around the world, slowly building up the courage to do it myself. GISHWHES, although hard to pronounce, is probably one of the best experiences of my life. It stands for the Greatest International Scavenger Hunt the World Has Ever Seen.
It all started when actor Misha Collins was challenged to engage fans of the TV hit series Supernatural in voting for the show on People’s Choice Awards in 2010. After the show won, fans started to respond to Collin’s (weird) requests on Twitter. Fans would send pictures or videos of themselves completing tasks. GISHWHES officially started in 2011 and it holds many world records in many categories. It is, no doubt, the biggest international scavenger hunt in the world, attracting thousands of participants (more than 14,000), and co-participants yearly from all around the world.
Here's how their website describes it:
So, in 2014 I decided to give it a go, and along with a couple of friends (CoCo included) we signed up without knowing what to expect of this week long hunt.
All we knew was the basics. We would be assigned to a group of 15 people and we would have to come up with a plan to communicate and delegate tasks. We knew that Gishwhes would reveal a list -on their website- of about two hundred items to complete by submitting pictures or videos (less than 15 seconds) of ourselves performing the tasks. Each item comes with a set of points, depending on difficulty. The team that gathers more points is the winner. There are extra points awarded for quality and creativity, as well as points taken out for not following the rules. We also knew the amazing prices that being crowned winner entitled. An all expenses-paid trip for your whole group to a beautiful destination accompanied by Misha Collins himself. The winner teams have made wonderful memories in places which include a castle in the highlands of Scotland, a pirate ship in King's Landing, Croatia, in the jungles of Costa Rica and in a deserted island off the coast of Canada.
A few days before the list was released (which is usually on a Saturday afternoon), our groups were assigned. IF you already have 15 people in your group, you give it a name, and wait for the list. If you are flying solo, or only have a few people in your group, you wait to be paired with another small group or groups until you have 15. The coordinators of the hunt, directed by the one and only Gishbot (yes, there are a lot of made up words and silliness included in this game), set up the groups. Ours, consisted of four different small groups with people from Washington state, Arkansas, North Carolina, and Australia. But, how can you have a cohesive group with people all over the world? You may ask. That is the beauty of Gishwhes. No matter where you are, you are able to participate and have fun!
Our group’s name was… are you ready?... Quackles Loves MultipeBison Loves SoupsNatural Loves Geekwhes. Yes, it was a mouthful, but we made it work.
Before the release day, I gathered everyone’s email and created a google document accessible to everyone in the group. The idea was to copy and paste the item list on it so everyone would have live access to assignments and/or edits. Members put their names by the items they thought they could complete and then marked them out once they were done. That way we didn't waste our time in duplicate items. And then the fun began!
The list of items contained things that sounded almost impossible to achieve, but in reality, you can do it, you just have to be creative. Items go from acts of kindness towards strangers, to building ridiculous sculptures made out of easily found materials (like feminine pads and Kale, lots of Kale). A lot of public exposure, singing, dancing, sticky situations (literally) and laughs. You would be surprise how complete strangers will go out of their way to help you. Really.
OK, I know you are dying to see examples. We managed to accomplished a few things:
Item 17. Image. You are off to a most elegant formal evening gala. Disaster strikes! Your outfit is ruined. Dress yourself in an outfit fit for such evening, using only items found in your bathroom. 49 points.
Item 35. Image. Suck the blood from a doughnut. 10 points.
Item 36. Image. You at the beach, pool or on a boat, wearing a homemade, 99% edible, candy bathing suit. (the remaining 1% can be inedible thread or wire, but we don’t want to see it) 53 points
Item 49. Image. Make a 5 foot in diameter bird’s nest on a sidewalk in a upscale neighborhood. Nes in it. 47 points.
Item 58. Image. Register to be a bone marrow donor. We need to see a screenshot of your application. We will grant 3 points for each applications for up to 10 applications.
We all did this one. (register to be a donor by going to bethematch.com
Item 78. Image. Get a previously published sci-fi author to write an original story (140 words max) about Misha and the Queen of England and an Elopus. 59 points.
New York Times best selling author, Jason Hough helped us out. Thanks Jason!! (read the short story here). Also visit his site for the latest information about his amazing upcoming books! (www.jasonhough.com)
Item 84. Image. Two images side by side. Send a military care package. 27 points- This one made the Gishwhes coffee table book!
Item 91. Image. Using public transportation, commute to work wearing only the trash your household produced the previous day.(reciclables do not count as trash). 62 points
Item 93. Video. Give one of your favorite and most valuable objects to a homeless person. 31 points.
Item 99. Image. Zombies need to buy toilet paper too. What does that transaction look like? 67 points.
Item 106. Image. You’ve heard of Ronald Reagan’s trickle down economics”? Show us what trickle down ice-cream-onomics would look like. One person on top, messily eating an enourmous melting sunday, with two people on the floor below, trying to catch the drippings in their mouths as they fall, this needs to be a real mess. 38 points.
Item 110. Image. Create a heroic Captain Picard using condiments (mustard, relish, ketchup, etc) for paint. 19 points.
Item 165. Video. Your friend is in bed, not feeling well. Feed them a big bowl of warm (not hot) chicken noodle soup. One caveat: instead of a spoon, use a leaf blower. 73 points.
Other items included, covering yourself in peanut butter or honey and offer free hugs in a public place (video). Feed your demons (image), and at least 10 people having a water balloon fight wearing business suits (10 people)
There are strict rules about not sharing or publishing ANYTHING from the list, pictures, video or text while the competition is going. Gishbot patrols ALL social media to spot any rule-breakers. If you share your work before the hunt is over, you can get your whole group penalized. Believe me, it’s not worth it! Just wait a week and then you can share all your pictures with friends and family. One recommendation for first time gishers: read all the rules and regulations on the gishwhes website. Use only the media sharing sites they allow (Youtube and Imgur) and follow all instructions carefully so you get full credit for your creations. Our group created a secret Facebook group and we shared the items (pictures) we were working on for the group to vote and provide feedback… that way all members could see our group’s items before they were submitted. We all got to vote (and since it was a secret facebook group, our pictures were safe from everyone else to see so we weren't breaking any rules).
There are other items that were quite difficult to achieve. Like have NASA mention your group’s name from space (it has been achieved before). Or have a celebrity wear a t-shirt with your group’s name. Well… these kind of items are easy to achieve if the participants are celebrities themselves. Many Hollywood actors, like William Shatner, participate in this scavenger hunt yearly. So if a celebrity team OR a group that has a celebrity in it wins, then the runner-up non-celebrity team also gets to enjoy the price. It’s only fair! Thanks to all our wonderful team members from 2014! You are abnosome (abnormally awesome).
What are you waiting for? Renew your faith in humanity and sign up for Gishwhes today! Go to www.gishwhes.com for more information and inspiration from other participants. Now, who wants to be on my team?
***See a complete list of items from 2014 here*****
Check out some of our pictures and videos from that fantastic Gishyear here