GISHWHES: The Greatest Scavenger Hunt The Wold Has Ever Seen

“Death to normalcy!”

~Misha Collins

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In 2012 I embarked on an adventure that pretty much changed my life, though not in the conventional sense. This adventure had a name: GISHWHES, or the Greatest International Scavenger Hunt the World Has Ever Seen. Created by actor Misha Collins to help collect money for the Random Acts foundation, he developed a historical fundraising first by not only raising money in a fun fashion, but by breaking a world record as well.

A little bit of history:

According to Wikipidia “In 2010, a publicist for Warner Bros. named Holly Ollis asked Collins to engage his audience to help Supernatural move from second place to first in the People’s Choice Awards voting…Supernatural did go on to win and Collins asked his followers to send him self-addressed stamped envelopes into which he put scavenger hunt prompts on the backs of jigsaw puzzle pieces from a puzzle depicting a rhino. He soon began to receive images in response, such as a photo depicting firemen wearing nothing except kale just as his prompt had requested.

Collins enjoyed this exercise so much that he officially created the scavenger hunt and gave it its name, the Greatest International Scavenger Hunt the World Has Ever Seen, which he acknowledged spelled out GISHWHES…”

And so it began.

When GISHWHES (circa 2011) began, I didn’t hear about it until a few murmurs started circulating the internet. Then, someone sent me an article over Facebook

I didn’t know how to react to it. All I knew was that the participants loved it and it looked really fun. I wanted in. So, during October of 2012, I found myself gearing up to participate.

Boy, was I taken by surprise.

I knew GISHWHES was unconventional (to say the least) but I wasn’t expecting some of the items my lovely team and I had to complete. Let me list just a few:

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See what I mean? Crazy. I did end up completing quite a few of the items (cheese wig included) thanks to the help of my friends and teammates.Speaking of which… I have to mention that one of the greatest things I got out of GISHWEHS 2012 was the connections and friendships I gained from the people on my team. It may seem like nothing now, but I was a sophomore at the time and I have to admit, I was pretty sheltered. Meeting all those people, all those adults from all those different places was something I had never done before.

To quote myself about my team from all those years ago:

My team was amazing!..As a teen still in high school, you’re use to racial jokes, procrastination, and boredom…In high school, you have people trying to teach you how to be an adult. And while they may (partially) succeed intellectually, they fail experience-wise…It’s almost like trying to teach pre law students on a jungle gym instead of in a classroom. You can teach them all the rules and theories but they’re never going to be able to stand up in court, they didn’t have the right atmosphere.

GISHWHES provided me with the right atmosphere.

I was able to interact with 14 adults who were responsible and mature. They weren’t just some usernames on my screen, they were people who I might have a chance to meet. They were people who I got to know better. I don’t know about other teams, but we really talked to each other, we really listened. I learned about their families, about tragedies in their lives, what jobs they have, what TV shows they like. We never met once, and yet we [became] friends.

I still keep in contact with my team and during last years hunt (2013) some of us bounced ideas off of each other even though we were in different states and on different teams. I learned a lot that year and the experience I gained will always be priceless to me.

But that brings me back to English class. I’ll admit, two years later and my opinion has changed just a little. While it was the first time I was able to interact with mature adults instead of kids, I have to deviate from my opinion that I don’t have the right atmosphere in school. Well, kind of. For most of my classes my original opinion holds true, but when it comes to English it doesn’t apply. We have our “innovation” projects.

For those of you who don’t know this, our innovation projects are meant to help us go out and do something in the community (though not necessarily for the community). By doing these projects most of us are (almost) forced to interact with adults and other people in high positions. Some groups have to write proposals and create budgets and others have to check with the dean of the school or the superintendent. Some groups have to do all those things.

I will admit one thing. While it may be a little overwhelming (and seemingly stupid/annoying/a hassle/etc.) at times, it does give us a taste of what the real world will be like. I really appreciate that fact. I’m no longer the pre law student studying on the jungle gym, I’m the AP English student who’s going to go somewhere in life.

So for all my fellow high school students out there: even if your classes aren’t going give you the experience in that particular field of study (or life), do something that will.

For me it was GISHWHES. I had a blast in 2012, I had a blast in 2013. I’m going to have a blast in 2014 too. All the while, I’m going to keep on meeting new people, making new connections, from new places all over the globe.

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For the record, I just received my Guinness Book of World Records certificate last week…

“Though GISHWHES is probably one of the most time, life, and soul-consuming activity I have ever participated in, I’m going to do it for as long as I live. Or at least until the Queen, with her steam punk crown, tells Misha to shut it down.”


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