Sunday, November 24, 2019

The 5 stages of a geocacher

The 5 stages of a geocacher
 A geocaching primer by BaytownBert (Bert Marshall)

I love geocaching. I love planning my next string of unique geocaches and usually start compiling my list the day before – or earlier. I read the page for clues and seeing I am rapidly becoming a fossil, I use GSAK and load a pocket query into my Garmin Oregon 750. I didn’t start out that way and I also use my Android. Let me explain the 5 stages a geocacher goes through if they play the game any length of time. I’m thinking 5-10 years, but you may be a quick learner. Me? Not so quick on the upload, if you know what I mean. Murphy’s Law is my middle name.

(1) In the initial stage of geocaching, the newbie is so overwhelmed with the possibilities (and swag!) that they go to the dollar store and buy $23 worth of precious loot to spread all across the geocaching universe! Never mind that they only find Micros and nanos and are soon disillusioned and wonder if they messed up... but if they survive, they move into the next wonderful stage.

(2) It’s all about the numbers in this 2nd stage. It doesn’t matter what the D/T rating is as long as they get a bunch of them. Trackables? Are you kidding? AR0213  They bought $200 worth off of Ebay the 1st month (Note: A Jedi-geocacher may move up and down in the 5 rules over the years).  Cacher is in true form and sets person record by logging 144 LPC’s in 7 hours. Cacher calls in sick the next day.

(3)  Now we come into the Navy SEALS of geocaching and we all know who they are. These amazing folks have more hormones than Arnold and only tackle the highest D/T grid caches and are known to swoop into an unfamiliar area and wipe out the resistance. Kudos to those who can do this, but I am not that gifted.

(4)  The next stage is also an elitist bunch that have entirely specific needs, desire, wants, and aspirations in this game. They take geocaching to a level akin to a NASA moon launch. They are the puzzle makers/solvers and to be honest, I wouldn’t trust them to look in my cellphone. I love them, but know I will never join them. My brain would either melt or explode.

(5)  Finally, we are at what I like to call the black banana geocaching community. We are seasoned geocaching veterans, right? We have scars, bruises, and tales...tails? However, on any given day, we may act like a newbie and arise only to find that we can possibly zip in and literally steal FTF rights from one of our geocaching peeps! Never mind that we had to pee before we left! Damn the torpedoes, full steam ahead!

Or, we may team up with 4 other cachers and hit a power trail, regretting it as the miles wear us down. You get the picture that being a well-rounded cacher is more than a stat – it’s a life style.
This has been an attempt at humor, but let’s talk grown-up geocaching and it ain’t all fun and games. The game has changed and to me, it is not entirely a good thing. I think Groundspeak in their attempt to boost the already bloated game, thought that Adventure Labs would be a great addition... In my opinion it is nothing more than inflationary fluff that detracts from the original nature of the game.

Let me backtrack for a little personal history. I helped my city set up a Geotour and it is everything it is supposed to be and I have no qualms with that particular area of this game or my city. The Geotour has boosted tourism. Now that I’ve established this fact, the Geotour and cachers need to get the coin and swag severely dampened how many of my caches people looked for. I noted this in an earlier article. In other words, cachers only look for the Geotour and leave the area.

This spring I was invited to start a 5 cache Adventure Lab and I was a bit hesitant, but wanting to see the inner workings of it, I accepted. I wish I wouldn’t have.

Forget that the 7 pages of instructions were tedious and getting everything working was difficult. I consulted the grand designers a bit and possibly this has improved since I did mine in the spring. The problem is the AL info goes straight to Groundspeak and I get an excel file if I take the time to find out who played it. There is no communication between me and the players.

Last and this is a big one. Between the city Geotour (30+ caches) and the 2 Adventure Lab’s (15 caches total), no one looks for anything else in this town. Folks zip in and walk right past large caches with TB’s inside and do not bother to look for them. Take this into account when you invite this Adventure Lab/Trojan horse into your town.

In my opinion, Groundspeak would improve the game by restricting new geocache hides for newbies until they found 50 caches.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Eric Smith I enjoyed reading your take on The Game, and particularly on GeoTours and Adventure Labs.
I see your point and can definitely acknowledge the validity of your warnings.

That said, as a fairly new cacher I'd like to share my 'take' on these two aspects of the game.
1) GeoTours... First, I'll freely acknowledge the obvious draw of the Geocoin as the finish prize. I love the coins (as does every other cacher I personally know). Knowing I'm going to get a coin is the final piece of motivation I might need to get it done. Second, I enjoy GeoTours because of the potential the tour tantalizes me with. What do I mean? Baytown is actually a great example...I have lived in Houston all my life, been in and around Baytown all the time. STILL didn't know anything about Baytown other than a few obvious tidbits. The draw for me is: a) learning something new about the area, b) encountering a cool cache location, c) encountering a cool cache container, d) knowing that the caches are being maintained.
I enjoyed the multi that involved the old 895. Cool piece of history (and a great park that I have been back to many times since my first visit as a cacher).
I totally understand the propensity to focus on the GeoTour caches to the exclusion of all else, and when I did the Brenham GT that was because our goal was to start and finish the GT in the same day! I would say that it would be a great service of the organizations running the GT to find a way to publicize other non-GT caches that are nearby (maybe in an email in response to the passport submittal, or on the cache pages, or in a paper insert with the coin) to celebrate and promote continued caching in the area.

2) Adventure Labs... I've done 5 or so of the new Adventure Labs so far. By FAR the best one so far has been the Baytown Adventure Labs. Neat locations, well thought out, just plain fun. I've also done a few that were so-so at best. Adventure Labs should be ALL about location, location, location. I want to see a super-cool location, learn something super-cool, or experience something super-cool, and the best ones accomplish at least 2 of the 3! All THAT said, my biggest complaint about Adventure Lab is one shared by many...ALs should be shown inside the official game just like WIGs, we should receive alerts for new ALs, and they should be a solid part of our game statistics. As it is ALs feel like an external part of the game.

While acknowledging the issues that GT's and AL's can bring to an area, I believe those issues could be addressed and everyone could still enjoy these parts of the game!

Regardless, enjoy your game and cache on!

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