When you or I go on a scavenger hunt, we try to find random but normal items: a menu from a local restaurant perhaps, or the signature of someone semi-famous.
When Tia Pogue went scavenging this month, she created a human piano; showed an alien draining our civic infrastructure, and milked a dairy cow (while dressed in semi-formal attire — that’s her in the center below).
And when you and I go scavenger hunting, we play for a few bucks or a bottle of wine. Tia — who graduates next June from Staples High School — competed for a free trip to Iceland.
That’s the difference between your and my scavenger hunt, and the Greatest International Scavenger Hunt the World Has Ever Seen.
The week-long event takes — as you have already figured — a hefty amount of energy, creativity and intelligence. Tia has tons of that.
It’s genetic. Her dad, David Pogue, is the world-renowned newspaper/TV/book tech expert — as well as a Yale music major who spent 10 years conducting and arranging Broadway musicals.
In early April, Tia saw a Reddit post soliciting members for a GISHWHES team. The group — Team Raised from Perdition — had finished as a runner-up the year before. Members came from across the US, Canada and Brazil; their professions included sign language interpreter and opera singer. All shared a love for creativity, and making the world a better place.
In addition, the hunt combined art, randomness, philanthropy, challenges and fun — all things Tia loves. She eagerly applied.
She had 3 days to do 3 challenges from past hunts, and make an “About Me” video. She was selected from a pool that included many adults.
The GISHWHES event takes a week. Teams race to complete as many of nearly 200 challenges as they can. Participants submit pictures or videos of their work.
Tia Pogue’s team proved that aliens are taking jobs away from Americans.
Rules are quirky. For example, most videos must be exactly 14 seconds long. Kale was arbitrarily banned.
Tasks fall into 3 categories:
- Wacky art projects (recreating photographs out of junk food)
- Random acts of kindness (planting a community garden or donating blood — a large portion of registration fees go to charity)
- Asking random people for help (requesting that an art museum temporarily replace a painting worth at least $100,000 with a forgery painted by an 8-year-old).
Tia and her team communicated daily, using an app called Slack. She found everyone warm, accepting, interesting. Teammates grew tighter — virtually — and hope eventually to meet in real life.
With the help of her family, Tia completed 23 items.
Several moments stand out. One was when — after many hours — she finished her junk food version of the famous National Geographic cover with an Afghan refugee:
Other team members created a dress entirely out of corn husks, painted a portrait of a live model while scuba diving, recreated a landmark out of sticks and twigs, held a corporate meeting in a sandbox, and did a variety of charitable acts
Tia learned a few things in the process. One is that she’s happiest when she is creative. This school year, she plans to spend a little time each day doing something crafty.
She also learned that her age is not as big a barrier as it initially seemed. She calls her teammates “friends,” even if some are decades older.
Final results will be released in October. If Tia’s team wins, they’ll finally meet each other.
Below: Tia Pogue plays a human piano:
(To see Tia’s complete team page, click here. For their spreadsheet, click here. For more information on the Greatest International Scavenger Hunt the World Has Ever Seen, click here.)
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