Editor’s note: Groundspeak Lackeys are traveling thousands of miles from H.Q. this year to share smiles, shake hands and make geocaching memories at more than a dozen Mega-Events worldwide. Jenn Seva, aka MissJenn, attended the COG (Central Ontario Geocachers) Spring Fling Zero-Zero-Seven Mega-Event (GC1MGER) outside of Barrie, Ontario, Canada. Jenn has been a Lackey since 2007. She was a volunteer reviewer between 2004 t0 2007, a geocacher since 2001, and she says, ‘a geek since forever’. This is Jenn’s account of her trip.
By Jenn Seva (MissJenn)
On June 11th, my not-so-secret mission was to infiltrate the Canadian province of Ontario and attend the Spring Fling hosted by the Central Ontario Geocachers. It wasn’t their first Mega. These people are pros. In fact, it was their Double-Oh-Seventh iteration and they pulled it off with nary a stray bullet.
I arrived early enough on Friday to help the organizers prepare registration packets the day before the event. Well, they thought I was helping prepare registration packets. Really, I was studying their organization, getting to know the masterminds and taking notes. 😉 [My report back to HQ: What a dedicated – and nice – group of people who created very engaging activities! Must see them again in future missions.]
One the day of the event, I hitched a ride into the location to be greeted by uniformed Russian guards marching in lockstep. I felt like I had traveled back in time to the Cold War era. After showing our credentials (my expired driver’s license was no good but my trackable name badge worked), we were allowed past the gate and then were welcomed by the OctoBeaver. Allow me to explain that this was the mascot for the event complete with a yellow felt tail. He gave everyone a tiny piece of that tail as a gift! How nice of him. Beavers are an important and industrious part of Ontario’s ecosystem, and hold a special place in the heart of the locals.
Mission dossiers (because a mere “schedule of events” is too boring) handed to the geocachers contained instructions such as directions to Central Intelligence, finding certain individuals in the crowd with suspicious characteristics or Bond-ish connections, and also how to find the Debriefing Sessions later in the evening. The names of the caches specially prepared for the event were so much fun: Ammo Cans Never Die, Diamonds are for Decryption, The Giving Daylights, Don’t Cut the Red Wire, Gold Drinker, Moneypenny’s Diaries, The Spy Who Quizzed Me, etc.
You see the theme coming together here? Not just the names but also the actual cache designs either tickled my fancy or really challenged the noggin. Some did both. Groundspeak and I had some fun too with a cache called From Seattle with Love, containing the best-dressed logbook of all time. You’ll have to go find it and see. All of the caches were published by the European reviewer James Bond, on behalf of Her Majesty’s Secret Service. Nice touch.
This theme was beautifully carried throughout. The kids had their own activities as “Agents in Training.” Thanks to the GeoFreakZ for making it so much fun! The adult Agents were encouraged to solve a 5-part mystery called For Your Eyes Only: Guess Who? The event volunteers (mostly humans plus one bird) were all in tuxedos, of course, much like James Bond usually wears. In order for us attendees to find them easily, though, these were orange tuxedos. Geocachers doing it with style. As the event drew to a close, the biggest prizes were awarded to 7 lucky people: each prize was inside of a (what else?) briefcase so none of us knew what was inside of them. After a brief bout of stealing and horse-trading briefcases from one another, 6 of the winners got to open them and claim their gifts. The final grand prize was in a briefcase that had a combination lock! How to get in? Well, a three-digit code was needed and soon enough, the clever geocacher figured out the numbers she needed. Double-Oh-Smart!
Have you seen a theme carried out as nicely as was done here? Bet you haven’t.
A final thought: Mega-events are usually characterized by the fact that there are so many people around. That’s the hallmark of a mega, after all. Somehow, the COG Spring Fling managed to keep it feeling small – in a good way. This event utilizes land of the beautiful Nottasawaga Valley Conservation Authority. Because the activities and special caches are all within this lovely forested area, and because the trails are set up to crisscross, geocachers were able to see one another several times throughout the day as one group went hither and another group went thither. It felt neighborly. Maybe it wasn’t the location that did that; maybe it was the genuine friendliness of the people. Maybe it was both.
See MissJenn’s pictures from the Mega-Event here. For those that attended, The souvenir icon for this event is currently being revised. You can also find a Lackey at one of these upcoming Mega-Events:
Ohio, USA – Midwest Geobash
Wales, UK – Mega Wales 2011
Wisconsin, USA – West Bend $1000 Cache Ba$h
HQ in Washington State, USA – Groundspeak Block Party
Nordrhein-Westfalen, Germany – Geocoinfest Europa
Catalunya, Spain – Mega Event Catalunya
South Carolina, USA – Geocoinfest