Have you ever wanted to partake in a week-long, world-wide scavenger hunt with tens of thousands of people in more than one hundred countries around the world while never being required to leave the comfort of your own home? How about one that will inspire you to get creative, do some weird but ridiculously fun activities, and construct some absolutely crazy objects using items that you would never in a million years have thought to use to create those objects? Better yet, what if you had a virtual team of people who were helping you complete these tasks while you were also all working together to help make the world a better place?
Sound like fun to you? Because this, in a nutshell, is GISH.
Created by actor Misha Collins (best known for portraying the angel Castiel on Supernatural), GISHWHES (pronounced gish-wes) is an acronym for the Greatest International Scavenger Hunt the World Has Ever Seen. Eventually, the title was shorted to just GISH because, frankly, it’s just easier.
Although initially created as a way to help Supernatural move from second to first place in the 2010 People’s Choice Awards, Collins “loved the idea of thousands of people from all over the world connecting to create incredible things" so much that he officially created GISH in 2011. A week long event, it would go on to break the record for longest media scavenger hunt in the Guinness Book of World Records. It would continue to break records as each year more and more people would participate in the zany, entertaining event.
But what exactly is GISH?, you ask.
Participants in the Hunt sign up on the GISH website and pay a $25 fee to join a team of fifteen people. Each year, a portion of the $25 fee is donated to a different, worthy organization, and this year it’s going to True Colors United, which helps LGBTQIA+ teens facing homelessness. The team of fifteen people could be a group made up entirely of your own friends and family, if you can get enough of them to join. If you don’t get fifteen people on your own, it’s not a big deal because you’ll get paired up with other teams/players from other parts of the world to fill up your team.
GISH is always a week long event and this year it runs from July 31st to August 7th. At the beginning of the week, a list of 150 or more different tasks created by Collins and his friends is released. Each task is assigned a point value and teams must complete as many of the tasks as they are able to during the competition week, submitting them through either the GISH website or its app once they are completed. The team that earns the most points will win the Grand Prize (this year’s Grand Prize is mystery package which will be custom tailored to the winning team due to Covid uncertainties but, in the past, it’s been trips to places like Scotland, Costa Rica, New Zealand, etc.). However, you can also play “just for fun” if you don’t want the pressure of competition.
It’s the list of tasks that makes this scavenger hunt truly like no other. The tasks differ each year and range from things like creating a terrorarium (which had me creating a terrarium filled with things that go bump in the night) to creating a portrait of Jared Padalecki entirely out of plaid (Jared Plaidalecki, heh). The tasks are usually fun and creative and sometimes more than a little silly. Often, however, they are also focused on doing good, either by spreading positive messages or encouraging others to donate to charity.
GISH week is like none other, and it always seems to go by far too quickly. 2021 will by my third time participating and I always emerge feeling full of positivity and as though all of my creative juices are flowing. Below are a few photos of tasks that my teammates have completed from past GISHs.
If you want to sign up to participate in GISH 2021, the deadline for registering is July 21st at 10pm PT/1am ET. I promise you won’t regret it!
Task: Create a terrorarium, filled with things that go bump in the night.
Task: Jared Plaidalecki. Show us a portrait of everyone's favorite moose, made all out of plaid. (By Chrissi Ducotey)
Task: Create the most terrifying pastry the world has ever seen - and of course it should be a filled pastry that oozes "blood". (By Suzanne Ducotey, for Gishoween 2020)
Task: Writer's block.
Task: Ouija boards allow us to communicate with spirits that have passed on to the other side. But they’re clearly quite limited given that’s ALL they can do, and a long seance can make you feel peckish. Let’s solve both problems: make your own Ouija charcuterie board. (By Chrissi Ducotey, for Gishoween 2020)
Task: In an impoverished area, set up a zero-touch delivery system (such as a little free library or school supply library) to provide books and school supplies to children at home. (By Suzanne Ducotey)
Task: Lego proof socks (by Sarah Hughes)
Task: The art of rock balancing is said to open up creative pathways in your brain. But potato balancing has proven to actually provide a shortcut to enlightenment. That's why we found you, in nature (or your backyard), meditating near the balanced potatoes.
Task: In the past, we asked you to Salt and Pepper Iron Man, so it seems only fitting you create a Spice-Art tribute to Iron Man's creator, the late, great Stan Lee. Whether it is the man himself, or his comic book creations, create a Spicy-Art tribute to Stan. Excelsior! (By Chrissi Ducotey)
Angela “LaLa” Rairden is an avid fan of comic books, Star Wars, and most things nerdy. A cosplayer, she loves to attend comic cons dressed as her favorite fictional characters, particularly Harley Quinn. Although her day job is at a grocery store, writing has always been her true calling. She lives in the Pacific Northwest, where she is currently writing her first novel.