Author: Katherine Muniz
I took a leap of faith in a moment of daring spurred by the persistent clamor on my Twitter and Facebook feeds. A wave of exhilaration swept over me as the confirmation email hit my inbox. I had just enlisted myself for the thrilling, nerve-racking rollercoaster ride known as GISHWHES – the Greatest International Scavenger Hunt the World Has Ever Seen.
GISHWHES is an eccentric yet enchanting brainchild of Supernatural star Misha Collins. Since its inception in 2011, Collins has nurtured the idea of uniting thousands worldwide to create the extraordinary. Teams of fifteen embark on an adventurous week in August, hunting for over two hundred peculiar, hilarious, and heart-touching items, all captured in photos or videos for points. The grand prize? An elusive mystery trip with Misha Collins himself. As the curtains fell on GISHWHES this year, the lucky victors were set to voyage to Hawaii.
As a neophyte “Gisher,” I was blissfully unaware of what lay ahead. I pursued further research, scouring testimonials, videos, and photos, which only heightened my nervous anticipation. Would I dare venture beyond my comfort zone and contribute meaningfully to my team’s success? Luckily, GISHWHES allowed me to choose my level of competition – I opted for “mellow,” uncertain of how much time I could spare for the hunt. My concerns also extended to my team – whom I’d be paired with and if we’d harmonize well. Fortuitously, I was invited to join Team Five By Five, fellow “Buffy” enthusiasts, on Twitter.
As the GISHWHES kickoff approached, my anxiety transformed into outright panic. Many veteran Gishers took a week off to undertake as many tasks as possible. Our team, mainly novices, had our fears assuaged by our supportive captain. She recommended starting with five feasible tasks, establishing an effective communication framework using Google Hangouts, Facebook, Twitter, and texting.
The eagerly anticipated list launch predictably crashed the server due to the flood of enthusiastic Gishers. As access was regained, we started the dizzying process of assigning tasks from the mammoth list of over two hundred. My initial choices were based on simplicity and manageability, yet the overwhelming list led to a frantic Saturday of reading, re-reading, and near panic-induced fetal positioning.
My first task was to recreate Groucho Marx using a piece of fruit. After two hours of crafting accessories out of household materials, my watermelon Groucho Marx finally came to life. The sense of accomplishment and pride in my quirky creation was overwhelming.
Throughout the week, I created spicy art, learned basic ASL, filmed and edited a commercial, wrote lists, and more. My favorite tasks were those that spread kindness, especially one that involved creating a chemo care package for a cancer patient. This personal and emotional task was particularly poignant for me, a tribute to my parents.
The GISHWHES experience was surreal yet deeply inspiring. Being part of a compassionate and eccentric community was a unique opportunity. It allowed me to create art in its weirdest form and build lasting friendships. My only regret – I wish I had plunged into this madcap adventure sooner. Despite GISHWHES ending in its current form, I eagerly await whatever Misha Collins conjures next. The most cherished memory? The realization that there are people worldwide like me, spreading kindness and quirkiness, transforming watermelons into Groucho Marx.