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.

T-minus 9 Hours – Getting Ready for GishWhes

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T-minus 9 hours, 8 minutes and counting.

The item list goes live Saturday morning. After we crash the site a few times, we can sign in and see this year’s items. I’m told to expect over 200 items to choose from. Even with fifteen people on a team, no one group has ever completed every item. Fortunately, that’s not the objective.

I expect to talk more about how this week will be going, and I’ll try to post some pictures of some items-in-progress. We can’t share submissions (or finished items to be on the safe side) until after the hunt is over next Saturday.

I thought I’d share how to get ready for GishWhes and what to expect, at least in my little corner of the world.

For starters, I try not to panic. This is my third year, and what I’ve discovered in the last two hunts was that I’m gung-ho, planning, organizing, plotting, and then on Tuesday I’m wiped out. Like wiped out to the point that I wish everyone a good weekend, not realizing that the weekend is a long way from Tuesday.

Each year the hunt is different. As I said, this is my third year, and my third team. This is the first year that my team kind of knows each other. We can thank our teammate, D for that. She wanted to get a group together early, so we’ve been getting to know each other since registration opened. I really like my team. We’re a good group of people. Our teammates are based in CA, CO, TX, NJ, NY, GA, and Denmark. We have two sets of husbands & wives. I think we have a total of 12 kids between us to help us out. Usually, I’m the only one with kids, so this is kind of novel to me.

There were some problems last year (in general, not with my team) with the Shatnerhate, bullying sci-fi writers, and a more competitive streak than I think is intended. Some people spend a ton of money, some don’t sleep.

Personally, I don’t go that far. I’m in it for the fun, the stepping outside of my comfort zone, new experiences, and the new friends I’ll meet. That doesn’t mean that I’m not competitive. Once I get started, I want to keep going and take on more items than my original choices. My average is about ten items each year.

I don’t have a lot of money to spend, and at almost fifty (that really hurt to type), I need my sleep. I have high blood pressure and depression and three kids that pop in and out of the hunt with their needs. Don’t they understand that Misha needs me this week?!

Last year, I spent $14 and the year before I spent $28. I don’t think that’s too much to contribute. I also conscripted my kids into helping where I thought they could. Whether they wanted to or not.

This year, I’ve already spent $30 for my team t-shirt and a team pin. My shirt was a little more expensive than my teammates because I didn’t want white and I needed a larger size. I’m also a pinaholic. I got t-shirts for my two youngest kids as well, but that doesn’t count as part of my gishwhes budget.

I was informed that the gishbot (the computer that assigns teams and stuff) marked me with a star which means I’m the team captain. I have no idea how they arrived at this decision or what it means. Like most things GishWhes related, there is no rhyme or reason. My teammate declared that I needed to make a captain’s hat, which I spent today doing:

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I’ve already told my husband and kids that tomorrow morning right before 9am, I will need my actual computer to access the team documents, my Facebook, and the item list.

Every year, the item list is full of surprises. However, there are some things that you will always need, and they will always be on the item list:

1. Kale

2. Sanitary napkins

3. Children and/or Old People

4. A Twitter item

5. A Stormtrooper item. Yes, from Star Wars. The 501st Legion has contacts to help out any teams that ask, and that they are able to help. They are very generous with their time, and do  help when they can.

6. Sock Monkeys

7. A Hair Item. It’s actually time for me to get my haircut but I’m going to wait until after the hunt in case I need to do something for my team. (NOTE: I will NOT shave my head)

8. There is a messy item – like death by chocolate and the elderly mud wrestling. See item #3. They might be related.

9. Some kind of Supernatural co-star harassment.
10. Other CW show involvement and/or harassment.

11. And of course, acts of kindness

Other useful items to have on hand include:

1. Chargers in a handy place for my phone, Kindle, and camera

2. 1st Aid supplies. If I have them, no one will need them, and the reverse is also true.

3. About $10-15 in cash

4. Granola bars and water bottles

5. Duct tape

6. Ziploc bags. Quart is the most universal size, freezer is the sturdiest. Use the zipper ones, not the slide; they are more secure.

7. Wet wipes, and whatever I have prepared won’t be enough

8. Make a list of local people and their skills/connections. Meet people and network.

9. Imgur, YouTube accounts for the Team. This year having a Tumblr is a good idea but not required

10. Internet Access

11. A Group Facebook and a Group Google Docs is an extremely helpful way to communicate and keep track of your submissions. (Make sure everyone on the team knows all the user names and passwords.)

12. Some way to take videos and photos. Last year, I used my cell phone for everything when I couldn’t find my camera. This year, I’m planning on using my camera – a Nikon Coolpix. Depending on what i”m photographing, I might also use my Kindle.

You’re never prepared enough, but it’s a good way to see how you work (and play) under pressure.

I think I’m ready. No, no, really, I think I’m ready, but we’ll find out tomorrow at 9am!