GISH 2020

Many of you know that I participate each summer in a weird scavenger hunt. You probably know this because I’ve pestered you to register to vote, or to donate to a cause, or to lend me something very odd.

For those not in the loop, the short version is this: Misha Collins, star of Supernatural (which I still haven’t watched, and I should because it’s always referenced in the hunt…) took some of his fame and fortune and founded the Great International Scavenger Hunt to try to spread joy and raise some money for important causes. People from all over the world work in teams of 9-15 to complete as many tasks as possible from a list that keeps growing and changing. In total, there are around 250 items. Some of them are very silly, like staging an Ann Geddes-style photo with people over 65. Others are socially positive, like performing a song for somebody in a retirement home. Still others have to do with pushing yourself out of your own comfort zone, like “Cook something you’ve always thought was too daunting.” The winning team gets to go on an awesome trip with Misha to some place, but we mostly do it because it is such a joyful experience. Thousands of people play, and the odds of winning the big prize are slim. We won’t know how many points we got for a long time. They have to review a bazillion entries. But we had a great time, which means we’re definitely winners. Our team completed over 100 items. We forgot to get a count before the game ended, and then the list disappears. But we definitely did well.

This year, we had a great team. That really helps, because it gets crazy. Gary played with us, and Kirsten, Dallas, and Brooke were on our team, as well. Kate, who got me into the hunt in the first place, was our team captain.

No camp experience would be complete without a group sunrise or sunset picture with your besties, and Camp GISH is no different. Take a virtual “team photo” with each of you at sunrise or sunset, then collage them so that you’re all in the same picture virtually.

Due to all the things, nearly every item could be done from home, or in a socially-distanced manner. I admired the level of creativity this must have required from the hunt designers.

GISH had a summer camp theme this year, so in addition to our team, we had “cabins.” You had to get help from your cabin to do some of the challenges. My cabin was “Slangaroo.” One activity was to make a themed collage of people from your cabin. Here’s mine (my theme was “Into the Woods”, because GISH is all about when you find the thing that makes it worth the journeying).

The whole hunt was wonderful, but here are a few of my favorite items from my team.

First, the silly ones. Most GISH videos can only be 14 seconds long, so these are all brief.

Brooke squeezed blood from a stone.
Dallas made a wedding dress out of plastic trash.
We made a home gym with things we happened to have around the house.
“New trend: Evergreen eyebrows!” Rachel says not to try it, she lost a lot of eyebrow this way.
Jennifer made Stan Lee out of spices!

Kate took on this massive project: Make a quilt of 2020. Every day of the week, she posted a few more squares and I was just overwhelmed by how gorgeous it was. I was really sad to point out that Oppy went dark in 2019…so she added “1 year and still not over it.”

Check out the full-size version of this one.

One of my items was to make Pokemon cards of everyone who is going to be on our ballot this fall. I learned that Pokemon cards are annoying to make (so many little parts), and that some of our third-party candidates are….fascinating.
It’s hard to read here. Check out the full-size version.

We used stop action to plant a seed and have it grow into something unexpected. Petra helped with the stop action and Silas helped with the singing.
Kate also showed what a famous piece of art was up to in quarantine.
Tamar made a tiny submarine sandwich.
Allie made a mask for her car. It’s hard to see here, but the fabric has little cars printed on it.
There was a clue that we deciphered as meaning we needed someone to play “Carry On, My Wayward Son” on a hurdygurdy. Kirsten convinced her colleague Jerry to get his instrument out and give it a try. I could not believe we got this one.

Another one that Kirsten pulled off, but which I had assumed was nearly impossible, was to get a story about a “snack attack” on the local news. It had to include our team name (“Knotty Hookers”) and GISH. Luckily, she had some contacts at the local public radio station, and her former student did a fantastic story for us.

I didn’t do too many of the self-reflection ones. Both of the ones I did do made me cry, so I stopped.

One was to show a picture of the last time…The prompt was like, “The last time you held hands, the last time you felt carefree…”

All I could think of was Ender’s last car ride.

The other self-reflection one was to make a brochure for your happy place. So I did one for the theater. It’s a two-sided trifold, so the top is the outside. I miss theater.

Then there were the do-gooding-ones.

My favorite, by far, was one where we had to create a fundraiser for No Kid Hungry, and promote it by making a video of us all performing a scene from a movie….in our own homes. I edited this, and, got to say, pretty proud of myself. I love everyone’s commitment and attention to detail. They made the edit a breeze.

We also managed to sign up over 50 people to get information about getting out the vote, and we convinced a lot (although not whatever the goal numbers were) to register to vote and/or request mail-in ballots. We met our fundraising goal for the big fundraiser, which was for criminal justice reform (we raised $330 on our team fundraiser, and the overall event raised $154K for that cause, as well as tens of thousands for the smaller fundraisers).

Members of our team also interviewed elderly relatives (Kirsten’s uncle James told a fantastic story about how, when Kennedy died, he didn’t believe it because he found out when he was on the playground. “One of the bad boys said, “The president died, so we have to put our flags at half mast,’ and he pulled his zipper down halfway. So I didn’t know if it was a joke.”), performed remotely for people in a nursing home, assembled sanitizing kits, and…many other things. A number of the clues were tricky codes, and Brittani was just the MVP of those.

This year, the list included a “kids menu” with items like “put the things in the fridge door in order from shortest to tallest.” I thought this was a great feature, because kids always do participate in the hunt, and this way they knew they were really earning team points.

Petra made a paper hat for a foster cat (here’s me trying to get a picture).

Silas made up a song about using a cat as a wishing object (like a penny in a well).

Of all of them, though, my favorite was Irene’s response to the prompt: Put five small things that make you happy in a box.

Honey, rain, unicorns, crayons, Sallie.

I can hardly wait until next year! Let me know if you want to be on my team for a very weird, but rewarding, week.

Previous years:


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