International Competition Builds Community in Whittier - Sustainable City News

International Competition Builds Community in Whittier

International Competition Builds Community in Whittier

Every summer, I participate in a week-long, worldwide photo/video competition for charity called GISH (Greatest International Scavenger Hunt).

I look forward to the competition every year, despite the unreasonable pain and suffering caused by attempting to complete over 200 challenges with 14 teammates in eight days.

I joke; it’s really fun!

It began when I signed up to help a 14-year-old relative (let’s call her Kieran) in 2017.

It seemed like a good idea at the time. Kieran had nothing to do all summer and I had to work. She could play with costumes and photography and I would make money.

But the play and creativity of it wore down my resistance: Dressing up as a vampire to battle zombies, making a “jailhouse” bird house, performing in a choir. By the end of the week, I gave in completely and had fun — which is a good thing.

How often do we adults allow ourselves to play? Not nearly enough.

The next year, 2018, for an item titled “Face Your Fears”, I learned how to fly a plane.

I was definitely scared. I had to pull the lever to lift the plane off the ground. I cried after we got the plane in the air. But after the experience, I felt freer.

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The competition’s challenges include fundraising for charity, acts of kindness, cosplay, games, art, science, puzzles, politics, and connecting with community.

For example, we asked the Whittier Museum if we could borrow a comptometer for an hour-long shoot at Rocky Cola Café and they said yes!

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One challenge asked us to carve a watermelon hat and wear it to a farmers market. Recognize this location?

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Even though the competition is fun, the fundraising aspect is serious: In 2020 alone, GISH has collected enough money to provide more than 1,000,000 meals to children who wouldn’t have had access to food while sheltering in place, and $175,000 for the NAACP.

Over 15,000 people all over the world participate in the competition every year. In 2019, my team made runner-up. The winning team gets an all-expenses-paid trip to an exotic location.

Two of my 2019 photos were featured in a magazine article about GISH. Both images were taken at First Christian Church in Whittier. This one is a Good Omens cosplay:

This one is a faux stained glass of YouTube influencer James Charles:

This “evolution of the selfie” involved camera equipment loans from both the Whittier Museum and Monte’s Camera Shop:

I’m competing with my team right now, this week, August 1-9, 2020. Want to help?

  • Help us register first-time voters. This is a very high point item. Contact me at to help with this one.
  • Help us Save a Life. We are raising funds to reform prisons.

GISH is a great way to connect with your community. Don’t hesitate to reach out with questions if you’re interested in joining us. It will be challenging and creative but most of all — fun!

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