Sunday, November 22, 2015

Geocaching burn-out – it can happen

Geocaching burn-out – it can happen
By Bert Marshall (BaytownBert)
Southeast Texas Representative Texas Geocaching Association

“The old fire is gone, BB.  It just ain’t there no more.  I mean, I still love the game and all, but certain people have said certain stuff… and it hurts.  The events are all the same and I am weary of repairing the same old caches that keep getting muggled or destroyed and now it seems like no one is happy anymore.  Is there a remedy?”

I’ve heard this painful confession a number of times over the last year and I guess it’s time to address it.  Back 10 years or so, the game was played considerably different than it is now and some of the folks feeling this burn-out are the ones feeling it the most, as they’ve been at it the longest.  I know one couple that has 2000 finds they haven’t logged.   They are at a dark place.

Face it, Smart phone Apps have changed everything.  Some of it is good and it is indeed getting better, but initially it was quite a shock to see the online logs appear with nothing on them or published caches that were 150 feet off coords.  Smart phones and the digital age has allowed people to play the game with no more knowledge than the App they see on their tiny screen.

Many of us Vets were slow to embrace the dual technology of Smart phone Apps and our trusty GPSr’s.  Some actually resent the new technologies and those who have joined the game with no regard for old school protocol.  It is important here to note that the majority of newbies coming into the game are just as enthused as we were back 5-15 years ago and that brings us closer to solving the burn-out syndrome.

What has happened for many of us is we have forgot how exciting a FTF is, or discovering a trackable in a cache.  We’ve done it so many times; we simply log both and walk off.  The old “rush” we got is buried deep or forgotten.  A pathtag we find in a cache is pocketed and then discovered in the washing machine later.  We have become geocaching machines.

So, BB, what is the solution?  Quit caching?  Archive all of my caches and start bowling?   Join the Peace corps?  While these options are all honorable, why not simply re-fire?  Why not crank up the old enthusiasm?  Why not develop a plan to get back in the game?

Sounds great, but how?  That’s the ticket isn’t it?  Here is what I do.  I begin visiting my own geocaches and doing maintenance on them.  Believe it or not, I find this as fun as finding caches, I really do.  When I make these runs, I don’t just put a new log in them, I make a decision on whether to change the container to something better.  Sometimes I decide to archive that particular cache and place something new, so local cachers will have something new to look for.

It’s been my experience that when cachers meet too often, they become like families and eventually someone will say something offensive and then bitter feelings develop.  Avoid this at all costs, but if it has happened, put it behind you and move on.  If you’ve been caching a long time, you are a storehouse of knowledge on the game.  Consider hosting a geocaching 101 event.  I promise this is a fantastic way to energize not only you, but those who help you teach.  On top of that, when one of your students blasts off and becomes a productive geocacher, you will feel like a million pathtags!

Somewhere down the many cache trails, we forgot how fun the game can be.  The game IS fun.  It’s a LOT of fun and maybe we need to remind ourselves that those numbers mean nothing.  Bumping your total count by 1000 on a power trail may look impressive to others, but it is in the journey with friends that really make it special.  It’s the journey, not the numbers that count.

Find friends who enjoy your company and go caching together.  There is nothing like caching with friends to kindle the old fires and while we are at it, remember this is just a sweet game and remember to have a good time.

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