During my lifetime I’ve had long weeks before, and then I’ve had what can be considered looonnng weeks. And what I thought would be one of the longest weeks of my life turned into being the shortest.
That’s right, last week – August 1st-8th – was GiShWhEs, an awesome scavenger hunt where I was tested to the limits of my creativity and my sanity. It was also when I learned the truth in two old adages: 1.) time flies when you’re having fun, and 2.) too much to do and too little time to do it in.
Now, for those of you who aren’t familiar, GiShWhEs is an anagram for the Greatest International Scavenger Hunt the World Has Ever Seen, and it is literally the Greatest International Scavenger Hunt the World Has Ever Seen (Seriously, it’s won two separate accolades from the Guinness Book of World Records for hosting the largest scavenger hunt in the world, so they ain’t joking when they mean the Greatest International Scavenger Hunt the World Has Ever Seen). GiShWhEs takes place over the course of one week every August, and hundreds of teams compete to win the grand prize all while promoting Random Acts of Kindness*.
It was founded by Misha Collins – yes, that Misha Collins ; Castiel of Supernatural, Misha Collins– in 2010 after a publicity stunt to help Supernatural win a People’s Choice Award. The original competition was a way for Collins to engage the Supernatural audience to vote for the show to win the award; however, since then the competition has grown to epic proportions of people worldwide competing to win an all-expenses-paid trip somewhere of Misha’s choosing, this year’s winning team – unless William Shatner’s team wins, then the top winning teams – will venture to Costa Rica for a weeklong jungle adventure with Misha and his pet monkey.
Teams consist of up-to 15 individuals – they can be formed in advance, or you can have the GiShWhEs admins place you on a random team – and for an entire week, you work with your team to complete items and submit photo, or video, documentation for points. Points are worth anything between 8 and 200+ points with the opportunity to get more points (up to 100%) based on creativity and ingenuity of your answer to the task.
Now, tasks vary anything between the easy “Leave a review for GiShWhEs on Yelp or Google” (item 201 – 8 points), to a little harder “Use recycled computer or cell phone parts to create a video-game inspired diorama” (item 137 – 93 points); to the virtually impossible “Get a president, a king, a prime minister or other official head of state to wear a real kale crown” (item 170 – 200 points), and each team is tasked with completing as many of the tasks as they can in a seven day time frame (Some tasks are even location specific which leads to a great disadvantage to some players who aren’t in a certain area).
Many teams, like my own, go through and divvy up the items when the list is released on Gish Day, and then they get a start to completing and submitting the tasks. My team consists of 14 other individuals, all of us are varying ages and from various locations across the globe, and together we were able to complete 165 out of the 215 items that Misha and Miss Jean Louise – Misha’s right hand woman – set up this year.
This year was my first year, and I had no idea what to expect. Actually, when I first got the list from my team, I thought there was no way I would be able to do any of the things that were created for the hunt. However, I was able to get over that as I found several things that I knew I could do:
I created an Italian landmark out of Pizza.
I created a portrait of Iron Man out of salt and pepper (Which I then had to tweet to Robert Downey, Jr.).
I painted a tribute to Leonard Nimoy.
And I went out on a date with a taxidermic animal.
Those were just a few of the things that I completed over the week, and that doesn’t even hold a candle to some of the things that my teammates did: create a float out of recycled bottles and actually float on it in a body of water, hold a funeral for death, make someone disappear without using tricks or camera magic… the list goes on and on.
When I was first recruited for GiShWhEs, I had no idea what to expect. I was told that I’d have the time of my life, and that I would be competing against other teams all in the name of camaraderie, fellowship, and fun.
And that’s exactly what happened. Not only did I make friends with the others on my team, I was able to meet and corroborate with other Gishers in my area, and I was able to spread Random Acts of Kindness in my community.
Although it would be wonderful to win the trip to Costa Rica, but even before the winning team is announced, I know that I’m already a winner. I’m already a winner for the lessons I learned, the friends I gained during this hunt, and the kindness I spread around my community during this epic week.
And that’s what games are supposed to be about. They’re about fun, they’re about companionship, and they’re about learning more about yourself and growing more as an individual while working with others towards a common goal. GiShWhEs did that for me, and I look forward to seeing what next year’s hunt calls for.
*Random Acts of Kindness is just that; it’s a selfless act that is performed by a person – or people – wishing either to assist or cheer up others. The Random Acts of Kindness Foundation works to “inspire a culture of kindness in schools, homes, and communities.” For more information, please visit http://www.randomactsofkindness.org.