GISHWHES Update 2016

It’s that time of year again! Registration for GISHWHES  (the Greatest International Scavenger Hunt the World Has Ever Seen) is open!  Because it’s driving me crazy that I haven’t posted anything in weeks since The Magicians finished Season 1 (however, my kid is graduating, so I’ve not been lounging around like Hedonist Bot rather than writing), I’m re-publishing the article I did last year on GISHWHES, with some updates.  

If you want to be a part of it, here are some things to keep in mind:

-It takes place the week of July 30th to August 6, 2016

-There is a minimum donation of a $18.89 registration fee that goes to Random Acts, a non-profit organization started by Misha Collins (Castiel on Supernatural). If you are a huge Misha Collins fan, you can donate at larger pre-set levels and receive specific Misha schwag.

-It will be a super awesome experience for you, so don’t be afraid to try something new!



GISHWHES 2014 Recap

Earlier this month I participated in something that has now become an annual tradition.  I spent a week with 14 other people around the world competing to create photos and videos of over 200 items and activities.  The items ranged from art projects to random acts of kindness to social media tom foolery.

And what is this week? GISHWHES.

In case you are unaware, GISHWHES (the Greatest International Scavenger Hunt the World Has Ever Seen, not the weird acronym I created in the title-although the title acronym is a little bit more of an accurate description of the week and its participants) is a media scavenger hunt started by Supernatural actor Misha Collins (he plays the angel Castiel).  This week long event is basically like summer camp for adults, as one of my teammates called it.  Global teams of 15 people each try to complete as many items as possible in the hopes of winning a trip with Misha to some exotic location in the world, as well as bragging rights.  Previous trips have been to a haunted Scottish castle and a Viking cruise; this year’s trip is a Costa Rican adventure.

Registration fees to participate in the hunt go towards Misha’s charity, Random Acts of Kindness (  The charity supports volunteer groups who wish to perform acts of kindness in their communities, builds schools and orphanages in third world countries, and in general promotes kindness.

Although the prizes are great, GISHWHES at its heart isn’t about winning.  It’s about taking risks, bringing joy to others through unexpected encounters, meeting new people, and gaining new perspectives.  To me, it’s one week a year I get to creatively re-charge.  It builds confidence (seriously, you get a little bolder about asking for everyday things after calling a particle accelerator location and asking if you can come visit dressed as the Flash), and creates memories that provide great fodder for sites like this. It restores your faith in humanity, as most people are willing and delighted to help you complete tasks.

To that end, I wanted to share some of the items our team completed.  These are items our group of 6 local team members filmed and photographed.

The complete item list can be found here:

Of the 216 items, TeamPiePeopleLovesGeeksForGiving (if you have less than 15 people to start, you are combined with other teams, thus the “loves” as the combining word) managed to complete 85 of them.  Below is just a sampling of our wacky week:

Item 1: Beautifully recreate one of these painting optical illusions or another one you find on the Internet using real bodies and/or props:

Optical illusion final

Item 4: Get 10 of your friends to stand on a field or lawn. Strap inflated balloons to 5 of your friends’ stomachs. The other 5 friends must pop these balloons using only the impact and weight of their bellies or their bums (they can’t use hands, feet, mouths, or anything sharp).

Item 8: You and a friend must build and launch two dueling paper airplanes using only your mouths to build and launch them.

Item 15: Have an elderly relative take you back to an important location from their childhood and have them recount a memory of that spot. For example, they could take you back to the street corner where they learned to ride a bike and tell you about that day.

Item 19: Have a tea party with a special needs child or pediatric cancer patient dressed as a character from “Alice in Wonderland.” (so for this one, we visited my cousin who had just had surgery, rather than a child – we probably won’t get full credit for this one, but it made my cousin super happy, which is really the point):

Alice in Wonderland visit

Item 23: Tour a wastewater/sewage treatment factory dressed in formal attire with an accompanying violinist or flutist.

waste water visit

Item 27: Everyone likes drive-thrus and “Jeopardy.” Combine them by going through a drive thru and making the employee guess your order by describing the items to them with the “answer.”

Item 28: Blow us away with your amazing cosplay as a famous inanimate object (think Saturday Night Live & Justin Timberlake & Andy Samberg).

gishwhes last day 002

Item 40: They say, “A dog is a man’s best friend,” but they are sexist. Dogs can be women’s best friends too. To prove it, make one entirely out of feminine hygiene products.

padfoot final with updated text

Item 50: Your friend loves cake, so being a good friend, you offer to take them out for cake at a nice restaurant. Alas, you discover when you arrive at the restaurant, that your friend has recently undergone medical treatments that prevents them from moving their arms, so you will have to feed them. Unfortunately, light is harmful to your eyes so you must be blindfolded. While blindfolded, stand behind your seated friend in a fancy restaurant and put your arms under their armpits and feed them cake with your hands. Trust us. This is going to work out beautifully.

Item 70: Design a good app for the Amish. Submit an image that displays the link to the app.

Item 90: That was so kind of you to volunteer to host a “Going Away Party for a Boardgame.” Invite several friends over to play a gently used boardgame for its “goodbye party.” Then take it to a shelter for families living there. Photoshop two images together, you and your friends playing, and the game being dropped off at a shelter.


Item 96: The Tooth Fairy is on strike. Invent another fairy that provides a service in your home for your children, or your dorm room/apartment for your roommates. Dress up as the fairy providing the service, and then caption the image with what you are.

parking fairy final

Item 98: One of my favorite horror movies of all time is called “M is for Murder”. Make your own horror movie trailer entitled, “X is for Xylophone.”

Item 99: The problem with growing kale is that hipsters are always trying to sneak into my garden to steal it! Show what a trap would look like to catch these pests. Extra points if you capture (alive) a real life hipster. (Note: Misha kind of has an obsession with kale, so at least one of the items involves this leafy vegetable)

item 99

Item 102: Many school music and art programs are underfunded. Find a local school art program that needs instruments, art supplies, etc. and donate a needed item to it (as well as try to find others to donate to it). The image should be of you presenting the item(s) to the teacher/administrator at the school.

art supply donation final

Item 129: Locker Love. Post messages of love or support on or in lockers of students that you think might need it.


Item 144: A live bull in a china shop (although the judges of GISHWHES frown upon interpretation of the items, we had to with this one; when I consulted with the owner of these calves, it was not healthy for them to do something like this, as they were out to pasture.  So since GISHWHES also frowns upon illegal or dangerous activities to complete items, we went with the interpretation).

final bull in china shop

Item 149: Random Acts’ August #GetKind theme is Literacy. Hold a book drive and then turn your automobile or bus into a mobile free book give-away. Each book must be bookmarked with a positive or kindness message. The image you submit must be you in front of your mobile book-give-away-vehicle with the books and with a recipient.

Book drive collage-final

Item 164: Show us your version of “Tai Chi Breakfast”

Item 177: Make a portrait of a CW actor using only naturally shedded hair/fur of your pets (this one I did an hour before the hunt ended at 3:00 AM, and it actually turned out better than I expected, which is saying something about my artistic skills).

Cat fur picture

Item 183: My (Misha’s) grandmother lives in a retirement home called Roland Park Place in Baltimore, MD. Find a way to give the residents a little boost this week.


Item 211: All Random Acts staffers volunteer long hours. They get no pay and often get too little praise. Do something nice for a Random Acts volunteer (or for the staff of another all-volunteer organization).

Volunteer donation

There may be more GISHWHES-yness to come as our team gathers all of our entries in a public location on the net.  Hope you enjoyed these and only 341 more days till GISHWHES 2016 (unless of course Misha changes his mind on a whim, which he does…often)!