Travel – Scavenger Hunt

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​Last week, I shared Kids’ Travel Bags for the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday. Today, I am offering some suggestions for one of those items in the bags: the scavenger hunt sheet. It is below the cut, and permission is granted to download and print it for your own use with your family.

One of the things the past seven years of Gishing has taught me is that there are many ways to interpret something. It’s allowed me to rethink my concept of the scavenger hunt for one thing. Rather than collect things only to get rid of them at the end, I’ve really incorporated the idea of re-purposing, finding and documenting, and being a force for good, whether that’s as a Good Samaritan, doing good deeds, or making the world better through my time, talent, and treasure, and of course through civic responsibility. All of those things will be different depending on the hunter’s perspective.

I planned a mini Scavenger hunt for my kids for our most recent vacation. This is not an easy task as they are somewhat spread out in age: 13, 14, and 22, as well as personality and tolerance for this sort of thing.

Some items were be for collection, although not many. Most were photos or videos and journaling. It was a lot of fun, and it kept them busy for our long drive. Hopefully, it will help in your Thanksgiving travels.

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Summer Scavenger Hunt

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​One of the things the past seven years of Gishing has taught me is that there are many ways to interpret something. It’s allowed me to rethink my concept of the scavenger hunt for one thing. Rather than collect things only to get rid of them at the end, I’ve really incorporated [th] the idea of re-purposing, finding and documenting, and being a force for good, whether that’s as a Good Samaritan, doing good deeds, or making the world better through my time, talent, and treasure, abd of course through civic responsibility. All of those things will be different depending on the hunter’s perspective.

I’m planning a mini Scavenger hunt for my kids for our upcoming vacation. This is not an easy task as they are somewhat spread out in age: 13, 14, and 22, as well as personality and tolerance for this sort of thing.

Some items will be for collection, although not many. Most will be photos or videos. I’ll share our specific ones when we return.

In the meantime, here are a few things you can add to your own scavenger hunt item list:

  1. On the first day, journal/draw: What are you most looking forward to?
  2. Draw something from your first day; then turn the paper over and draw something from your last day.
  3. Find a street sign with your name on it.
  4. Find a roundabout.
  5. Find a cow crossing sign. Bonus points for a photo of a cow and a cow crossing sign together in the same picture.
  6. Journal My Favorite Thing Thus Far (do this on or after the third day)
  7. Photograph or Draw (or both) a tower.
  8. If you are in a foreign country, try something different on the menu of a popular fast food restaurant (ie. McDonald’s, KFC, Starbucks, etc.)
  9. If you are in a different state, try some local food. Write about the experience.
  10. Write down the date/time/town and take a photo or draw the following: Horse, Cow, Sheep, Moose, Beaver, Goose, Bridge, Flower, Water (river, waterfall, stream, etc)
  11. Pick a random day – Count the change in your pocket/purse.
  12. Nap Time – What did you dream about? Journal.
  13. Find a raccoon.
  14. Eat some poutine. Write about the experience.
  15. Find a waterfall.
  16. Take a picture of hockey equipment.
  17. Find and photograph a maple leaf
  18. On the last day, journal/draw: Did it (the first item listed) meet your expectations? If not, what surprised you?

GISH 2019 Has Begun…

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​The annual do-good, do-crazy scavenger hunt began yesterday. Bright and early on the west coast, mid-morning where I live on the east coast. Previous years finally taught me to give the website a little time to crash and then come back, so instead of jumping on right at 10am, I waited about fifteen minutes.

In the twenty-four hours and change since the list dropped, I have been communicating with my team, having a few laughs at my own expense, and writing up my notes for the items I’ve chosen.

Historically I’ve done about ten items per year. Assuming each team member does that many, that gives us a finished item list of 150. Some do more, some do less; we all do what we can. I’ve already seen some other teams dealing with miscommunication, and I may be biased, but for the most part, we have always had good communication. We don’t mete out a certain number of projects per person or restrict how many each teammate can claim. We all use the honor system and don’t take on more than we can handle. After a couple of days, we will put some back or trade or ask for help and feedback. For the most part, we get it done.

I’ve claimed six items plus two team items. There are two more that I have my eye on, but I want to get a couple of these finished first and leave those open for others. If they’re still there by mid-week, I may add them to my item list.

One of the major rules is that you can’t share anything from the list until the hunt is over. That day is Sunday, August 4th. The hunt ends on Saturday, but I can’t remember the time. There’s a countdown clock on the Gish website.

I can (probably) tell you that I’ve sketched out a few of the items, made a shopping list for one, planned on some scanning/photography for another. I’ve done first drafts for poems and drawings, one was really quite good, and one was just awful; terrible proportions. I need to dig out my sewing machine unless I want to hand sew the project I’m thinking of. My list includes one charity item and one global environmental item.

This year’s list has a good balance, splitting the items into fun, outside the comfort zone, charity, compassion, political, think global/act local, and in looking back over this list and previous lists for the last six years (plus this one) that I’ve participated in, it’s a good reminder that when the one week of the scavenger hunt isn’t going on, our lives should include the same balance. Not necessarily evenly split, but definitely parts of all those elements:

  • Fun activities
  • Activities that make us take a little step outside of our comfort zone
  • Charitable works
  • Be compassionate
  • Get involved in your local government and politics. At the very least, register to vote and then vote on November 3, 2020, and every year thereafter.
  • Think global and act local. Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.
  • Volunteer.
  • Help a neighbor.
  • Pay something forward.

An Addition to Gishwhes by the Numbers

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A very important number that I left out of yesterday’s post was the amount of money I spent.

To start, our team does not put a budget on any item or ask anyone to spend any money. It is assumed, I think, that if you claim an item you will get it done to the best of your ability, whether you spend money or not.

Also, as far as I know, no one on my team used that it was a charity scavenger hunt to get free supplies donated. I personally am not sure where I stand on that; it’s a grey area. For me I don’t do it but that isn’t a judgment on anyone who does as long as it’s within reason and positive representation of the team and the group.

That said, this year we had very little money. My family wants to take a weekend away before school opens up again in the fall, so we’re watching all of our pennies, piggy banks, and bottle deposits.

The most I spent on any one item was $10.12 for item #114 – the team photo. Being in New York, I had decided on a soft pretzel with mustard at the Erie Canal, and the extra pretzels were to bribe my two kids to come and take the pictures. They also got a free trip to the playground behind the Erie Canal stone marker.

Including that, I spent a total of $17.76:

$1.23 for item #102 – putting positive messages on people’s cars in the guise of a parking ticket. (envelopes)

$1.05 for item #39 – using magazines, create a vision board. (glue sticks that we will also use for school supplies)

$,36 – for item #90 – Superheroes doing mundane chores. (red floss for Superman’s heat vision)

$5 – for item #29 – the printing of the bottle labels to sell air in public.

I scavenged coupons, post-it notes, empty and dried water bottles, posterboard, cardboard panel, Flash costume, Superman cape, index cards, Sharpie markers, orphaned socks from my vast collection as well as using my Twitter, my WordPress, and of course, my ever willing family.

At the end of the week, I bagged up all of my leftovers to save for next year.

The hunt isn’t just about winning, although winning would be nice. It’s about teamwork, camaraderie, using what resources we have, reusing items we’re saving or getting ready to throw away, supporting some worthy charities, bringing important information to people who wouldn’t normally see it (like stroke signs and the Syrian refugee crisis, and potable drinking water even in our own country), plus thinking outside the box and trying new things.

Fun and service don’t have to cost a lot of money to make a difference.

Take today and be extraordinary!

Gishwhes By the Numbers and Charity Links

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Gishwhes for 2016 has ended, and it’s taken me these two days to recover-ish. I’ve got 99% of my leftovers in a bag for next year or for supplying the kids for craft projects that they come up with for the rest of the summer and into the new school year.

Second year in a row that we’ve had a phenomenal team. We had eight returning teammates and of the new seven members, we had only one MIA.

We’re named Brave Little Ants, which is a Supernatural reference. We’ve managed to find a boatload of motivational ant graphics, highlighting their strength and teamwork.

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Gishwhes is….Hmm?

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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.

Gishwhes is Coming

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In five short days, Gishwhes will be here. I think I’ve done all I can to prepare, collecting assorted bits of odds and ends. I have two bags and a toiletrie kit with various and sundry items. I hope I can do well for my team. I have much less money than last year but I have just as much, if not more, enthuswiasm.

Here is a peek at some of the items we did last year. They are all my personal items except for the second collage, on the bottom of the Dinomite flying. That was done by my teammates in Denmark and was featured as a cover photo on the official Gishwhes Facebook page for several weeks.

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All images copyrighted to me, may be used by other Brave Little Ants teammates. Top, L-R: Turn highway rest area into paradise, Pop Vinyls at the Great Wall, Batgirl take Superman out for lunch. Center, L-R: Positive post-its on high school lockers, Team Logo, Gardent hack - watered by fairies. Bottom, L-R: National Geographic - The Padalecki, Tribute to Leonard Nimoy, Pack for trip to Mars.

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All photos copyrighted to me except the third one, all may be used by Brave Little Ants teammates. Clockwise, starting at the top: Vacuum your lawn June Cleasver style, What I Fight For + Uniform, Dynomite flying, 2016 Team Logo with rainbow letters, Welsh dragon pronouncing Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch.