GISHWHES 2014 – Pope Tats, Breakdancing Cars and Potato Cannons – Oh My!

What is GISHWES? Seriously… you’re still asking that? Here’s an explanation…

GISHWHES is the Greatest International Scavenger Hunt the World Has Ever Seen. But really, it is a global family of kind-hearted, brave (and maybe a little insane) people, who cater to the whims of one uniquely crazy patriarch, actor/activist, Misha Collins. Geez, that sentence was comma happy, wasn’t it?? Pardon my lack of focus. You see, I’m still recovering from my GISHWHES experience and nursing a GISH-hangover. If you’re not a GISHer, this may not be making much sense. Allow me to clarify – if that’s possible – what a week of GISHing actually means. This year was my second as a GISHer. My 2013 experience was good (obviously… I came back for more), but this year was simply amazing. Now, I truly understand what it means to GISH. 

I jumped all over registration this year. Registration costs are minimal (around $20 minimum. You can contribute more, and receive impressive gifts for doing so), and proceeds go to Random Acts, Misha Collins’ non-profit charity. Last year, I caught onto GISHWHES at the last minute. This year, I was lucky enough to start scouting out a team to join a bit earlier. I can definitely say that there is an advantage to planning ahead. It is nice to get a little feel for who you will be teaming up with before the scramble begins. Teams consist of 15 members. If you cannot put together a full team in advance, your team will be randomly completed by the ever so competent GISHBOT. My team this year was “Fanchester United”, and I cannot say enough about this fantabulous group of people! We came from all over – Florida, Texas, Utah, Arizona, Iowa, California, Minnesota, Ohio, Slovenia, and Brazil! There were a few clusters of people that knew each other previously, and some of us that were totally unfamiliar to everyone else. Isn’t it funny how it only takes a week to transform this into a “family”? I was a bit disappointed that my kids didn’t want to register this year. (I guess 2013’s “toast underwear” was too traumatic for them) However, I sincerely thank them for helping me take some photos and NOT sharing them online before we were allowed to do so. 🙂

Once teams are assembled, all you can do is wait… wait for that list. It’s kind of funny to watch the emotions unfold on social media during this time. Waiting GISHers go from thrilled to terrified – anxious to giddy in mere seconds. It’s like thousands of elephants in tutus waiting for the starting gun at a race. Once that gun goes off, watch out and have your cameras rolling because there will most assuredly be clumsy, brilliant, heart-warming hilarity afoot. 

When the list is released, the countdown begins! Teams have a week to knock out as many tasks on the list as they can. Each item is assigned a point value (generally based on difficulty), and the team with the most points wins. This year’s prize? 

“The 2014 winning team will be flown to King’s Landing (or thereabouts) in Croatia, Europe where they will set sail on a pirate ship captained by Misha Collins for an all-expense-paid weekend of survivor-style adventure, mayhem and wonder. In addition to the trip to Croatia and any pirate “treasure” they find, members of the winning team will also receive the GISHWHES Elegant Elopus Pendant. We only make 15 pendants every year. Wearing it will forever mark you as one of the Grand Masters of GISHWHES.”

So… simple enough, right? Ha! You haven’t seen the list yet! This year’s list consisted of 196 items – a combination of photos, videos, and even Excel spreadsheets and artwork; depicting acts of charity, kindness, insanity, creativity, and might. We were all set up for list release with a stellar spreadsheet ready to go. Let me just say… no amount of advance preparation is enough. When that list drops, you feel like someone just threw 100 banana peels at your feet – while you’re blindfolded and wearing roller blades on a sheet of ice! (Hmm… maybe an item idea for GISHWHES 2015?) My advice on tackling the almighty list? Look it over once and get your giggles out. You’ll see a great many things that you want to do, but can you do them? Some items are very geographically specific. If you live in Idaho, you probably shouldn’t sign up to meet someone in Qatar. I had issues with my video camera this year… know your limitations, and know your strengths. When you go through the list a second time, start committing to the items you feel most prepared to do. Make sure you are thinking of the 14 others you’re working with… pull your load and let them do the same! Our team worked so well with item swapping and picking up the slack as we encountered life’s distractions along the way. This kind of teamwork is crucial to a successful hunt! Communicate, be prepared to help, and be on top of new developments – in the game and on your team! It really does all happen so fast! All week long, messages in every forum possible were flying between us Fanchesters. I’m convinced some of us were messaging in our sleep. 

Now, about that list! You’re just dying to know – aren’t you? I won’t be posting the full list here, but I AM sharing almost all of our accomplishments as a team. Each picture and video below represents something we completed for GISHWHES 2014. Each is labeled with the task it represents. I did miss a few along the way, but as a team we accomplished so much more than any of this shows! We have registered as bone marrow donors, learned CPR, and masqueraded as one of thousands of Orlando Jones imposters during the Fauxlando Twitter invasion… and that was only the beginning! Take a tour of our experience below, and then continue reading… (Click on any pic for full size. A few videos posted thumbnail pics afterward, and I cannot seem to correct that. Scroll on!)

It’s “me time.” Spoil, pamper and be decadent to yourself like you never have before. Oh, and P.S., you’re dressed as a Stormtrooper. (48 pts)

Have an image of Pope Francis permanently tattooed on yourself. (64 pts)