What is Gishwhes?
It’s one of those things that if you can concisely explain it, you’re inevitably leaving something out. I’ve tried for two years to write a thirty-second elevator pitch and failed each time. Sharing the website is even more confusing if you have no idea what you’re looking at.
When you register for gishwhes, you’re money goes towards the grand prize (this year is a trip to Iceland with actor Misha Collins for the winning team) and to the non-profit charity, Random Acts, created by Misha in 2011.
What you’re registering for is the Greatest International Scavenger Hunt the World Has Ever Seen. You either form a team of fifteen members or you register and are assigned a team before the hunt starts. Sometimes you’ve never met these people, either in person or online. The hunt begins when the item list is released at midnight. Which time zone is often a question, but this year’s dates are July 30th through August 6th. There are over two hundred items, and more are often added during the week of the hunt. You’re expected to check the updates page daily. Sometimes items are eliminated or modified. You’re not expected to complete them all; just as many as you can.
The items are a mix of doing good deeds, random acts of kindness, tattoos, making wigs out of your own hair that you’ve shaved off, costuming, interpretive art, memorials, using unusual art supplies (Skittles, salt & pepper, condiments, etc), twitter sharing, doing an assortment of odd activities at various landmarks and filming or photographing them, but most importantly, working with people you’ve never met, figuring out how to work as a team, cooperate and compromise as well, and even more important, making new friends, and trying something new and different.
The gishwhes motto is Death 2 Normalcy. In other words, leave your comfort zone in the closet, think outside the box, put sock monkeys on your head and wonder what a Stormtrooper would do if he were laid off from the Imperial Forces.
As big in scope as the hunt is, it is also small in the everyday influences that remain with you after the hunt is over.
I often recount how many ways I did something uncomfortable (like asking strangers to let me take a photo of them hugging for the Guinness Book of World Records (2013)) or how I reused something to make something better, how I honored people that I admire (John Barrowman (2012), Leonard Nimoy (2015), my husband (2015), how I used skills I had forgotten I had (hand-sew sock monkey jewelry (2012)) or got my kids involved in ways that they complained about but ultimately loved (working at the post office (2013), having a Pasta/Jam Stand (2014), dressing as a fairy to water the garden with my son as photographer (2015).
I have resorted to collecting the cotton out of my prescription medicine containers, and popsicle sticks from our ice cream pops as well as the “swords” from the Red Robin burgers. My family knows not to throw those out now and wash them for my “Gishwhes bag”.
It’s building relationships, showing my kids that nothing is too hard or too silly, doing for others is so much better than doing for ourselves, and it’s okay to just be you.
That’s the real message of gishwhes. We’re all different, we do things differently, but we do what we can with what we have, and we’re all okay the way we are.