For the past few years Claire Runquist, Annalisa Harty, Sharon Chen, Rachel Kaspari, Andrea Wilhelmi, and Mackenzie Woolf have taken part in the Greatest International Scavenger Hunt the World Has Ever Seen (GISHWHES), resulting in many documented and hilarious antics. At times they have serenaded strangers, made snow angels out of jello, and possibly even started a cult. The group applies some of the creative and carefree attitude of GISHWHES to their everyday lives and senior year.
Can you tell me what gishwhes is, and maybe how to pronounce it? Spell it…?
AH: Gishwhes is the greatest international scavenger hunt the world has ever seen, and it’s an annual scavenger hunt. This was its third year, started by Misha Collins, who is a famous actor. And he does random acts of charity. It’s an annual scavenger hunt where you have teams of 15 people who are from all over the world, usually, hopefully, and there were about 200 items that you either have to take pictures of or videos of and they’re absolutely ridiculous to the extreme, and it’s really really fun.
CR: We started doing this sophomore year, which was the first year it happened. Annalisa heard about it from a PF who was formally participating, and the rest of us were just like, “This is the most fun thing that’s ever happened,” and unofficially participated.
So what kinds of things are included as activities in the scavenger hunt?
MW: I was held up in a lawn chair by seven firemen. I also served pie to firemen and police officers. It’s mostly things to get you out of your comfort zone and a lot of random acts like Andrea said. That’s kind of the point of it.
AH: My favorite from the first year was spraying cheese whiz off the fourth floor- I sprayed Cheese Whiz into Claire’s mouth from the fourth floor of the Carnegie fire escape, and she was on the ground. And it was a blast. I think like one string got into her mouth, maybe? And then my favorite from this year was we borrowed Mac Bike’s stable bike and made whipped cream on it while wearing an 80’s outfit. We had to make an 80’s infomercial-workout-make whipped cream-thing. It was a blast.
CR: The other thing that gishwhes really has an obsession with is kale. That’s gishwhes leafy vegetable of choice. So the first year there was, “Make a kale chandelier,” which we happily did. But there’s also, “Make kale animals,” “Make kale clothing.”
SC: I cut off my hair for it.
AW: Please explain.
SC: Well the item was, “Make a wig of your own hair and wear it.” So the last night before it was going to end, Hannah Campbell ’14 and I were talking about doing this anyways. So she was like, “Do you want to come over?” So I biked over right after work and went to her house. Sam Stuewe ’14 honed his pair of scissors very carefully and he just cut it off.
RK: To add on, my favorite one was the choral arrangement of “I whip my hair back and forth.”
AH: It was beautiful. I would listen to that in a church.
CR: One of my other favorite items that involved a lot of weird looks was have a joust in a public library. So we used some of our LARPing friends to get the equipment, and you had to be riding someone as a horse and going towards each other. And there had to be a piece of fruit at the end of your jousting spears, so we had to add apples taped to these jousting spears, pretending to be horses whinnying in the library.
AH: Nobody batted an eye when we brought LARPing materials to the third floor.
MW: I went through a drive-thru dressed as a baby, and we were really disappointed because the cashier didn’t even bat an eye. It was a really lame video, but I was in it in a fleece onesie with a binky and everything. We asked for extra napkins for the baby. He didn’t care.
SC: Annalisa and Hannah and I also built a coluseum out of books in the library. I think we got one of the workers to work with it too, or just condone it.
AW: My other favorite part was, “Is there an unsung hero in your life? Well, make them your sung hero.” And so, there’s a lady who runs a gift store in my hometown, and she had broken her foot, and her husband had left her. She had a kind of crappy time, and she’s the sweetest lady ever. So I wrote her a little jazz song and we went and surprised her one day and sang her the song. She was so happy and it was wonderful. So many warm fuzzies.
RK: I’ve never officially been on the team. but I’ve experienced it by living with two people who are very much invested in it. So for instance, their second year of doing it, one of the things was to make a snow angel out of jello. That happened on our kitchen floor. And there was red jello, because of course it was red, everywhere.
RK: But this last summer it was great because we’d go to work and come home and it would be like, “So tonight I need to make a city out of boxes, cut off my hair, dress up a car,” “Oh, I’ll maybe stop by later, help you build a city. Why not?” I haven’t directly done any of the tasks, but it’s been fun living through you guys vicariously.
AW: But the people like you, the honorary members of the team, we really really really massively need you. I appreciate your help, and you guys are awesome.
SC: One of the most important things is not just the members of the team but all of the people they know. Last year I was in Spain, so that helped to do some things that other people couldn’t, like taking a picture of a sign giving advice to the world in front of an internationally recognizable landmark. I was going to be in Madrid, so I was like, yeah, I’ll take a picture. This year I was able to get my roommate from last year who helped me knit a twelve foot-long scarf and she was a member of the team this year. Next year will be really interesting because we will probably be in different places-
AW: Oh, we should do it again!
MW: I’m so excited.
SC: Because we’ll all have access to different things.
Have you guys ever won, and what does winning entail?
AH: No, we’ve never won. It wins the record every year for world’s largest scavenger hunt, so that means there is a ton of people and a ton of teams. They actually haven’t announced the winners for this year yet, so next week, maybe, a chance. And the award is awesome, every year they have a weeklong vacation, all expenses paid for, with Misha Collins. And this year it’s to a private island in Vancouver. You get to go there in a C-plane, have a seance, eat a Viking dinner. Don’t question it.
So we won’t win, but they’re having a hall of fame this year, and our more reasonable goal is to have one of our good pictures get into the hall of fame. We had some really incredible submissions this year.
RK: There was one girl on their team that was crazy. So for instance one of the things she did, you had to get a picture of yourself in a flash outfit in front of a particle accelerator, and I at least believe that those are hard to get access to.
AH: She had to drive five hours and buy the Flash outfit.
RK: She also made an epic dragon head out of kale. It was beautiful.
SC: The goal isn’t so much winning, although everyone wants to win. It’s really about the experience. I would do this as long as it keeps on continuing even if I knew I would never win. It’s just the best experience ever, and sometimes I wish it was all the time.
CR: One of the things I had on my senior year bucket list is, “Live every year like it’s gishwhes,” and I’m not sure I’m living up to that, but I try.
What’s one item you could not do but seemed really interesting?
MW: One of the items that was worth 300 points was to get a picture of someone at the International Space Station holding up a sign. My friend’s boyfriend is an intern at NASA, so I’m totally going to exploit this. But then too many people were tweeting and emailing at the International Space Station astronauts, so then they sent out an official tweet to Misha Collins and gishwhes asking them to leave them out of the scavenger hunt, so that was a thing nobody could do. So yes, we’ve been yelled at by NASA.
AW: Someone now says that Misha Collins has a cult following because of this.
CR:We may or may not have started an actual cult.
MW: One of the items was to create an advertisement for your cult and put it in a local newspaper and have people come to it.
AW: It doesn’t exist.
MW: Christa [non-Mac team member] lived in a small town and so she made one and it said you needed a pet chinchilla. And the email was [email protected] The first day it came in the paper, she got 150 emails from people saying, “I have chinchillas, can I come?” Someone found it, not on the Internet because we were not allowed to post it until the scavenger hunt was over. So they took a picture of it in the newspaper, uploaded it to Reddit, and it got viral and got millions and millions of views.
CR: We were like, “Oh my God, what have we done?” And there’s some chinchilla weirdos out there following this cult that we didn’t mean to start.
MW: The last time I talked to her, she was still getting emails. She has gotten over a thousand now of people really wanting to join this chinchilla not-a-cult.
In the spirit of the fact that this week is halfway to May and we all just finished registering for our last semester, tell us about #norsyyoloswag.
CR: It all started last year when people were always doing #norsy, which means “No regrets senior year.” And we were like, “That’s the stupidest thing ever.” So the beginning of this year, we were like, “How can we make it stupider?” #norsyyoloswag! The thing was, it started out that this was really stupid, but then everyone started using it for a lot of things. Like, “Oh my God, we just made mac & cheese for dinner, #norsyyoloswag.”
AH: I think it works as kind of the way of bringing gishwhes into our daily life, like Claire wanted to, and then being able to tag it as ridiculous, because we tend to do silly things in the middle of the year.
AW: It’s the same as gishwhes because it’s awesome but in the way that wakes people up and kind of keeps you going.
CR: One of the best moments of my senior year so far was hearing people not in our friend group use it, saying #norsyyoloswag.