Groundspeak Weekly Newsletter – August 10, 2011

What to Place in a Geocache

A few of the Groundspeak Lackeys went geocaching this weekend. We went on a long hike to a geocache in the mountains that hadn’t been found for nearly a year. It was in a beautiful spot and the snap closure geocache container was in perfect condition on the outside, but inside was a different story. It contained two empty chewing tobacco containers, a jolly rancher, a pack of ibuprofen, a few miscellaneous pills, a business card and a few other small things.

The “other small things” were things you would expect to find in a geocache – a fun key-chain, a small mirror and a plastic horse. But when we retrieved the key-chain, we found that it was covered with blue goo. The culprit was the Jolly Rancher, which had melted and escaped its wrapper. Although a Jolly Rancher may seem like a fun thing to place in a cache, food and other scented items do not make good SWAG. They can mess up the inside of the cache container or attract animals.

The tobacco containers and pills were not great cache contents either. Geocaching is a family-friendly activity and the items you place in a cache should reflect that. If you were a 6-year-old geocacher, would you want a pack of ibuprofen in exchange for your toy? Consider what type of SWAG makes sense for an audience of all ages. Please remember, the item that you place in a cache should be of equal or greater value than the item that you are taking.

Fun items to trade include small toys, patches, pins, or an item that symbolizes who you are (a signature item).

  • Cool artwork!

  • Found one time a lot of old coupons, threw them and switched to a lot of toys:)

  • Parrish_kristina

    People need to trade up… or at least equal or better. It’s unfair to come across bits of trash. I like to think that fellow cacher’s could respect this simple rule. it’s not too hard to collect a bunch of trinkets from a dollar store or dollar bins at places like Target…OR the best plact to get nice little cheap treasures are rummage sales. No one is asking for you to fork out much cash, but seriously a well deserved find, deserves a well deserved treasure.

  • AppliedScience01

    My 5 year old found a whistle one time, I discouraged his having it being as something found in a cache should not be placed in ones mouth =)

  • Worst thing we’ve encountered:  A 4 inch barbed heavy gauge fish hook.  OUCH.  We have a large bag of swag with things as simple as stickers and glass beads and marbles all the way up to digital picture key chains and headlamps.  You never know what level of swag you are going to need.  We always have our signature Team-Ducky stickers and we try to leave a Team-Ducky signature ducky if we can.  (Getting ready to put our our 400th unique custom rubber ducky.)

  • Ruthie The Dog

    I am always shocked at the stuff that is in my caches when I do maintenance…  for the record no one enjoys the following things:

    1.  A golf ball
    2.  An eraser
    3.  Biblical literature
    4.  A business card
    5.  A penny

    I am sure there are lots more, but that is just off the top of my head…  but the worst thing to find in a container?   …nothing.  If the cache you are at only has one thing in it, don’t take it, just add to the cache.

  • Wendy

    It is all about where it is and signing the log, if you hunt with your kid you should have stuff to surprise them with for when you find a cache with less then adequate stuff (suggestion).

  • Rcpsychocat

    You literally covered every standard piece of crap that you find in caches! Well done. Who wants a
    Stupid golf ball or a dirty eraser?!

  • Prodouginc

    I like to place seashells that I find on the beach. In addition I add small toys that I can pick up cheap at the dollar store; even if I don’t take something.

  • Kaerahis

    This article should say “Anything that melts is bad.” I have removed almost a whole pack of crayons from Geocaching containers. I would hate to see the caches I didn’t get to after we’ve had temperatures in the 90s.

  • Redhatjudyh

    We found a live bullet in a cache one time….handed it over to the police.

  • xK40S

    Wow thats not a good cache at all i hope it was disabled or the owner was contacted. In my caches i place keychains or other dollar store swag

  • PaulNikon

    I like to leave toy compass that actually work. 

    Also, found a “medal” in a hrd to find cache once.  Still have it.  Its a plastic “medal” that says “Winner” on a red, white and blue ribbon.  Meant a lot to me.  So I leave them in caches now.

  • Squidfamily4326

    The worst thing I found: a condom.  While grateful it wasn’t used, I trashed it as soon as I could and left some good swag.  I figure that someone found it who wasn’t a cacher; everyone I know who does this knows better.  Ick.  Thanks for reminding us what is appropriate and what is not. 

  • Dalrymplers

    My kids like finding golf balls so nothing against them, but tings like a used train ticket or a opened car air freshener are rubbish.
    My favourite things to leave just now are pirate bouncy balls, pirate gold coins and diamonds (all fake from £1 shop). I think what kind of things would my kids like to find, they are a bit older now but I can still imagine what they would have liked when they were younger. My daughter loves finding keyrings as she collects them.

  • Autryfamily

    We have a large bag of swag which includes toys, small picture albums, a few business card holders, inexpensive jewelry, & our signature smiley face pins.  I like to have items that adults would appreciate; even my son doesn’t like to find acorns, shells, rocks and paper items in a cache; they are not a great find unless you find them yourself.  However, my newphew really likes finding foreign coins.

  • Pat in Louisiana

    We always try to leave something “Louisiana”

  • ninnoli

    I’m getting tired of finding condiment packets. I realize they’ll likely keep a long time, but 1) who’s going to use them? and 2) if they were smashed or torn while someone was trying to cram a log sheet or something in there, it damages the entire inside of the cache. Better to leave nothing.

  • Anonymous

    Where do you get custom rubber duckies made?

  • Teachernelson1

    I once left a 8 MB SD card is the good or no?

  • Joanyblue

    We always leave a new balloon.  We like to leave those cute Japanese erasers shaped like animals, plastic rings, bandanas, keychains, stickers, bracelets.  You can find alot of goodies at Michael’s Craft store. 

  • Jottin

    I like golf balls…

  • AZWildcatgirl55

    I like to hit up party stores for kids toys.  I’ve been trading sealed containers of floam and small decks of playing cards that I can get in multi-packs for a couple of dollars.  I also like to use keychains that represent where I live and trade them in caches where out-of-towners may have access to them.  But I also see a lot of junk in caches.  My best’s friend’s daughter calls Geocaching “treasure hunting” because she likes to find swag.  More often than not nowdays, she isn’t getting much because of the quality of the swag or the cache and swag in it are moldy, wet, or just gross.  Maintenance of your cache is key as well.

  • Jottin

    I found a guiness button and erotic lollipop in a cache before. I enjoyed the button even though it really is not family friendly and the other went in the trash.

  • Ourtia

    I’m a newbie (only found 2 so far), but I have to admit that I was disappointed with the things we found. 

  • elmo

    i am new at this .what should you put in a cache ? thanks

  • Badhairday22001

    Being a newbie, would matchbox cars and happy meal toys be good swag? My son and I were introduced to caching about a year ago. We have found some when out with others (his cub scout den), but we haven’t logged our own first finds yet. Your suggestions, advice are welcome! Thanks!

  • BluesHiker

    We don’t trade that often, usually because the swag is not that spectacular.  But if it’s a nice cache we will replenish the contents a bit.  Love to find signature items, one of our favorite treasures is a hand-painted rock.  Also, we’ll remove any wet, moldy paper items.  Some of the worst things we’ve found:  underwear (eewww!) and cigarettes.   Straight into the CITO bag.

  • M_kijiji

    I once found a bible in a geocache…

  • Quahsi2

    I found pot one after hiking to a geocache one time.   I was glad thy boys were not with me.

  • Barbatlarge

    When I cache by myself I always plan to leave something and not take anything – it seems to up the value of caches I visit. But I recently hosted my under-10 grandchildren and took them caching. I packed a variety of dollar store things for them to put in the cache if they took something. When we got to the cache, there was nothing they wanted and they all wanted the things I wanted them to put in the cache! So they all took my treasure and left what was already there. When I put a cache out I try to place something inside that would appeal to finders of any age – some kid stuff, some feminine stuff, some masculine stuff. I can’t control what ppl put in as replacements. I’m a big fan of the trade even or trade up rule, but I have to admit that sometimes when I’m excited about going for a cache I forget to bring my swag. So I just sign the log and don’t take anything. I guess we can’t control ppl and can’t control what goes into and out of our caches so we’d better make sure we do a cache patrol at least once a year to replenish our own caches.

  • LMNinMN

    We found a live bullet in a cache once too.  After logging that we removed it for safety reasons, the cache owner replied with a nasty message accusing us of being over-reactive hippies.  They even went so far as to go back out to the cache and put a new bullet in there, and changed the description on the cache page warning people not to be a bunch of prudes and remove or do dumb things (including a few examples of what not to do) to the bullet in there.  Seriously people, grow up…!

  • My kids like to put bouncy balls, costume jewelry, and stencils in the caches. Sometimes we will put in extra when the cache is low on items. We try to pick up extra items when we go to walmart or the dollar store so we always have a variety in our SWAG box.

  • When I go caching, I note what size container it is, and I always have a tote bag full of goodies for all ages…be it from the youngest to the oldest. I like putting stuff in like an emergency blanket (dollar store) or stickers in ziploc baggies for the kids and a few toys, I’ll even make up small goodie bags. If the cache has nothing left, or it’s all garbage, I’ll replenish it. If there’s nothing I want, I’ll leave something. If it needs maintenance, I always carry ziploc bags to put a log book in or for keeping other things dry.  If you want to leave your signature card…laminate it, tape it or put it in a mini ziploc baggie…I hate finding crumpled up calling cards. McDonalds toys aren’t bad…but dont take them out of the package…leave them in for a child to find.

  • Whenever I leave something, I usually place it in a small 2×2 inch ziplock.  It keeps it nice and shows it off a bit.

  • Ceico a Martinka

    matchbox cars – great
    happy meal toys – OK (these are better to be put to bigger caches on places, where travelling families do their rest stops – you may help their parents a lot :))

    some more ideas:
    those little dolls, surprise egg toys, keychains…

  • Ceico a Martinka

    Actually, you can put there anything YOU would like to find in there and something that you would be OK with if your kid found it there…

    Don’t put to chaches: guns, ammunition, explosives, food, drugs…
    especially food – if ants can get into any type of container, bacteria and other microscopic stuff have it even easier 🙂

  • Dpriddey

    I agree that the acorn is not a good idea as it could go rotten. However, we have collected rocks & pebbles from all over the world. I put them in ziplocks with an explanation of what they are, e.g volcanic rock from Mt Vesuvius in Italy or a fossil from the Yorkshire coast. You never know, you might spark a kid’s interest in geology.

  • EdrickV

    Most unusual (and likely valuable) thing I’ve seen as swag in a Geocache was a new 16′ measuring tape. I have seen a cigarette in a cache before (it went into the trash) that I didn’t really appreciate. Most of the time I don’t do trades because the stuff is all kid stuff and I’m not a kid.

  • Zopots

    And if it got wet…

  • Kevcco

    we found some inexpensive compasses that come in 4 different colors and are on a lanyard these make great swag.

  • Lizardsally

    Wow! I would have reported them to the local reviewer – bullets are not good swag, WTF are they thinking? I’ve found bullets in caches too and I always take them out.

  • Lizardsally

    I guess it depends on where you live, but I don’t think stickers make good swag.  They often get stuck to the other contents of the cache and I frequently remove moldy wet stickers from caches.  I’ve thrown away decks of cards too – paper items in general can be a bad idea unless it’s a totally waterproof cache like an ammo can. 

  • Lizardsally

    I’m sick of finding expired coupons in caches too. 

  • Guest

    Agree, think about what would happen to your item if it got hot or wet? Would it rust or go mouldy/soggy? If so, consider putting something else in, or using a ziplock bag to keep it safe.

  • Yoyoken

    I once found a cigarette in a cache.

  • tsv62960

    For me, it is about finding the cache more than what is inside. True, I usually leave nicer things than I find, but the true joy is in the adventure getting there. It is more fun to be a good steward of the cache (cleaning it out, putting the log book in a new ziploc bag, etc) and leaving great swag than to complain or lament the lack of swag.

  • Gibson_b_

    My wife and I find junk in caches ALL THE TIME! It has become a huge problem with the type of swag inside. It always consists of something like a happy meal toy,  old eraser, a marlbe and a few generic cheap items. Some of them are actually ok buy if you put them all together it is not very impressive or exciting to  find something like this. We look at it like a birthday present. You want to be excited to open this box and find whats inside! Then when you do open it you dont want to be disapointed. So we have made it part of our geocaching experience to drop off some good quality swag in caches and it is still REALLY CHEAP to do. for example we went to the dollar store and found some rocks with words engraved on them such as “strength” or “love” we got 3 for a dollar. Now that is 3 caches that we can “upgrade” for only a dollar and make other cahers feel like it was a little more worth while to find! Also we are not exactly verteran os the sport either. We have found only 71 caches and started when the snow was just about to fall in our area last year. We feel that being a newbie isnt any excuse for what you leave behind because it is simple. No food items and something of quality other may like to have for all ages. Just make sure you think before you put that stick of juicy fruit in the cache. 🙂

  • these are some thing I leave in a cache! I’m also tired of people taking all the Trackable items and Geocoins, please take one and leave some fun for other people and don’t forget to log you find! they have tracking codes for a reason, use it!

  • these are some thing I leave in a cache! I’m also tired of people taking all the Trackable items and Geocoins, please take one and leave some fun for other people and don’t forget to log you find! they have tracking codes for a reason, use it!