Gettin’ GISHy with it

The past two years durning the first week of August, I’ve participated in a little thing called GISHWHES. Straight forward, it’s the “greatest international scavenger hunt the world has ever seen.” Its basically a week spent working with a team to complete a bunch of tasks that are either completely random creative silliness, or in some way charity/kindness oriented.

Last year I decided to try it on a whim. I joined alone since I’m the only person I know that was insane enough to think it was a good idea. I was assigned to a team of 15, all first timers, and almost all strangers to one another. The list was over 200 items (which, yes, is crazy, but you’re not expected to complete the entire thing), but between the rag-tag bunch of 15 strangers, we managed to complete over 50 items. It was tough at times because not everyone was communicating with the group, and I honestly found the whole thing incredibly stressful, because there are rules and guidelines, y’all, and not everyone was following them. I like things to be organized and done on time, and this was mania. It’s obviously not the end of the world if you don’t get all of your scavenger hunt items done, but still, I’m already high strung as is. I tried my best to keep the group organized and on task, but that’s impossible when people don’t check to see what’s going on.

Anyway . . .

Stress aside, I did have fun in the end. I met some really great people that I’ve been able to stay in touch with. The idea was floated amongst some of us to do it again this year so long as we could find people to create a whole team, or as close to whole team as possible. When registration started this year, Jill (who is also insanely organized–shout out, girly) started a team. Colleen and Whitney from last years team joined as well. By the time registration ended, we’d managed to find eleven other people to join us (are they out of their minds too? probably). I won’t lie, it felt really good going in with a full team where everyone knew someone.

This years list was not quite as long as last years (I think the final number of items was in the 170’s) but was equally intimidating. Some things we couldn’t do because they required people to be in a specific location at a specific time, or they required contacts at NASA, an engineering degree, things like that (because, of course). There was still plenty to go around with acts of kindness and creativity. Cara made an adorable padna (with is panda made out of feminine hygiene products, obviously) we all took pictures to “represent” our location, we all became robots on various social platforms, I joined a mass of people sending a delightful tweet to Mike Pence about how tobacco does indeed kill people. We all tweeted about how to determine if someone has had a stroke.  Jill and Alison had a two story wine pouring dinner party, Colleen and Kelly organized a 30-legged race. Whitney bought ice cream for a stranger, because it’s a nice thing to do. Kailey went jogging in shoes made from pineapples, Kassi got to lay a much needed regret to rest. We all helped promote a gishwhes-wide fundraiser for refugee families in need of homes which has, to date, raised over $214,000.


I wrote this, and recreated a moment from my childhood (and I didn’t even have to buy clothes to recreate the outfit. Is that scary? Or is it more scary that my hair is basically the same now as it was when I was eight?) And that, I’m happy to say, is just a sampling of the 60 items we managed to complete.

There were hiccups along the way, like GISHWHES server bots trying to steal our incredibly valuable teammates, Facebook documents being a hot mess, and, of course, life got in the way in some cases. There was also an unfortunate incident with cornhusks, which will forever remain a tragedy in our collective team hearts. No, I can’t go into details, the pain is still all to fresh.

At the end, I was over-tired, had consumed WAY too much sugar, and was generally ENTIRELY more wound up than usual (anyone that follows me on twitter can attest to that, because I was ALLL  over the place durning that week). I knew I needed my introvert time to recover, but I was still really sad to see it end. I felt like that week help me reconnect to a lost side of myself, the one that knows how to be creative, a Heather who is not so scared of trying things for fear of looking silly or not doing them perfectly.

I’m really glad I decided to do it again. Also, to my team, I hope I didn’t mother hen y’all to death. That’s just me, trying to help (and my need to feel like things are tidy and organized). You were all fantastic, and if any of you want to do it again, I think I may be down for it. [insert smiley face]


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