Mary Pearson-Brown, a member of the CrossroadOutlaws team, shows off her evergreen eye look, item No. 142 on this year’s Greatest International Scavenger Hunt list. (Photo submitted)

Vancouver Island team takes on wacky challenges of world’s largest scavenger hunt

Greatest International Scavenger Hunt taking place Aug. 1-8

A Vancouver Island team is working its way through a long list of “totally weird” challenges as part of the world’s largest scavenger hunt.

Eleven people from the Island along with four teammates from the U.S. are participating in the Greatest International Scavenger Hunt, a worldwide competition started by actor Misha Collins from the TV series Supernatural. The show is about hunting supernatural beings, but the GISH scavenger hunt takes a much more light-hearted tone.

So far this week Nanaimo’s Kristy O’Regan, captain of the CrossroadOutlaws, and her teammates have fashioned a wedding dress out of plastic bags, built a Burning Man replica out of matchsticks, styled evergreen eyebrows and participated in a walking-on-Lego challenge.

“We were laughing as we were doing it…” she said. “You feel embarrassed, but we’re doing it in our own backyard so it’s perfectly fine.”

The GISH hunt was confirmed by Guinness World Records as the world’s largest media scavenger hunt in its second year in 2012, when almost 15,000 people participated.

O’Regan recently binge-watched Supernatural and it inspired her to get involved in the hunt this year. She used the GISH app to find teammates – there are five team members from Nanaimo, two from Campbell River, one each from Victoria, Courtenay and Port Alberni, three from California and one from Arkansas. Those who were able to meet up did so on the second day of the week-long competition and did three tasks together, got to know each other and touched base with team members who couldn’t make it. Since then, they’ve worked together and separately to try to work their way through the 250-plus items on the list.

“If we can attempt it, great, if not, it’s not a big deal,” O’Regan said. “We’re trying to do as many as we can but they emphasize that it is quality over quantity.”

Depending on the item, teams are asked to submit a photo or a short video. Some of last year’s “hall of fame” entries shown on GISH’s website include efforts at photographing a nun rappelling down a mountain and a stormtrooper participating in an extreme sport, and ‘proving’ the moon landing was faked.

One of this year’s challenges is to get an op-ed published about GISH, and O’Regan wrote in her essay that participants are challenged to be “totally weird” and joked that it’s caused “unreasonable pain and suffering.”

She said judges value creative, artistic interpretations of the challenges and favour use of re-purposed materials. She’s heard about experienced teams going so far as to stockpile supplies such as dog hair and dryer lint to try to be ready for anything.

“We didn’t take our recycling out; we hoarded all our recycling just in case,” she said.

The grand prize in the past has been vacations, but this year’s prize is a mystery. O’Regan said she thinks her team will make a good showing for Vancouver Island.

“I would hope so,” she said. “I’m pretty confident because a lot of our things turned out really amazing.”

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An essay written by CrossroadOutlaws team captain Kristy O’Regan, published on the Nanaimo News Bulletin’s website Aug. 7. Getting an essay headlined ‘What is Gish?’ published is one of the items on this year’s Greatest International Scavenger Hunt list.

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