How to Have Fun and Give Back


Philanthropy does not need to be boring.  It can be fun.

I know what you’re thinking.   A rubbery chicken dinner and a basket raffle do not usually a good time make (unless you win the basket and it is full of stuff you really like and would not have purchased for yourself anyway, then all of a sudden it’s a lot more enjoyable).

Would you like to give back and have a little bit of fun along the way?  Would you like to complete the summer having done something a little more epic and make the world a better place at the same time? How about a chance to go on an all-expense paid vacation to somewhere like Hawaii?

I have just the thing.

I have to warn you, though:  This might not be a good fit if you are stuffy, pretentious, too “adult”, or downright boring.  It may also be just the thing if you need to shake yourself from any of those boxes.

Let me introduce you to GISHWHES.

The Greatest International Scavenger Hunt the World Has Ever Seen.

It is, indeed, everything its name says it is.  It is great.  People all over the world participate (100 different countries).  And it holds many world records.

It is part kindness, part courage, part art project, part community outreach, part shenanigans, part philanthropy.  It is one week long and you can put in as little or as much effort as you want.  Those who complete the most tasks win an all-expenses paid vacation…this year’s winning location is Hawaii.

How It Works

One…You sign up and pay a registration fee.  The fees start as low as $21.08.  This lets you participate in the event.  You can pay more for special swag if you like. You can sign up as part of a team, a whole team (15 people), or as an individual.  Individuals and partial teams will be put together with others to create a whole team.

Two…You wait (im)patiently for the first day of GISHWHES, which is August 5th this year.  An official lists of tasks will be released at that time.

Three…Your team divides up the tasks to complete over the next week.

Four…You get to work on your said tasks.

Five…You submit evidence of said tasks to get credit for the team.

Six…You fall over from excitement, tiredness, and satisfaction when the week is over.

What Kind of Tasks?

This is where things get interesting.  After all, this is not of the run of the mill scavenger hunt.  It is, by definition and name, the greatest the world has ever seen.

Some of the tasks are centered around doing an act of kindness for someone else and documenting it.  Some are tasks revolve around an art and craft project, a public performance, or whacky act that defies description.

Having been on a GISHWHES team previously and helped others on a team here are a few real life examples of these tasks that my teammates and I completed.  If you want to see what other teams were up to, you can go to the GISHWHES Hall of Fame.

-Create a beef cake.

GISHWHES entry- a beef cake

A Beef cake iced in mashed potatoes

-Do five secret random acts of kindness in your community and secretly tape their reactions.

-Show a picture of your grandparents mud wrestling.

Grandparents mud wrestling

Wrestling in the mud…grandparents will do any thing for their grandbabies!

-Shave a recognizable logo into the chest of a hirsute man.

-Prove that you are what you eat.  Dress in a costume of what you had for dinner (our take on it was asparagus).

GISHWHES are what you eat

An asparagus eating asparagus!

-Create an image depicting death by chocolate.

-Create a bathing suit out of candy.

GISHWHES entry, Candy Bikini

There are a lot of Red Vines in that bikini!

-Create a bathing suit out of tea bags.

-Have an ice cream parlor make an unusual ice cream flavor and video them selling it in their store. (Our flavor was Avocado Blackberry).

-Create an American flag out of food.

-Take as many pictures as you can of people hugging and holding a GISHWHES sign.

GISHWHES Hugs the World

No one says ‘No’ to good hug!

-Take a picture of a fish catching a fish.

-Paint your dad’s toenails with a Supernatural theme.

Supernatural toe nails

When a father loves his daughter…

-Take a family photo dressed as some other member of your family.

-Tape a real minister/priest/pastor giving a sermon about the evils of GISHWHES.

-Take a photo of a teddy bear kidnap situation.

Needless to say these are pretty out of the box but you get more out of it than you would imagine.

What’s in it for you?

There’s the obvious:

Giving to charity in a fun way.

Helping other people.

Getting the opportunity to win an exotic vacation.

Then the not so obvious:

The experience will give you a chance to flex your creativity muscles. How do you get licorice to stay together long enough to become a bathing suit?

It will make you go outside your comfort zone.  Most of the tasks on that list are things that you never ever EVER thought of doing. This makes you brave and you can carry that over in to the other parts of your life.

It will restore your faith in humanity. It is unbelievable how many people are willing to help if you just ask.  The grandparents mud wrestled, my brother let us shave (part of) his chest, a colleague made us ice cream, my nieces were willing to face a chocolate firing squad, our pastor did an impromptu sermon, people let us dress them up in ridiculous outfits and everybody we asked was willing to hug someone else.

It will get you out of a rut or shake any sort of boredom you have.

It will help you take a break from “adulting” and indulge your kid side for bit.

A Little Misc. Background

So now you know how it works but perhaps you want a little history.

The hunt was founded by Misha Collins in 2011.  For those who don’t recognize the name, he is the actor who plays Castiel in the television show “Supernatural”.  He is also the founder of the non-profit charity, Random Acts.  While GISHWHES is a for profit entity, profits are donated to the Random Acts organization and other charities as well. If you are looking for more information please visit If you want to know more about Random Acts then visit them at

Are You In?

I will be participating again this year with my daughter, Angel #1.  We are registered under the team name of PurplePandaParty and would love it if you would like to be on our team.  When you register, just let them know (they will ask at the end).

If you have your own team, please sign up.  I can’t wait to see what you can do.

Decide quickly!


I Can’t/Won’t/Am Too Chicken to Sign up…

Ok…I won’t question your motives….but there are ways you can still help.

You can contribute with a Gisholorship (a scholarship for those who want to participate but can’t afford the $21.08).

You can help a Gisher out with their tasks when asked.

Or you could donate your money directly to Random Acts of Kindness.

If any of that is still too much for you, please go forth and be kind according to your own task list.


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