Geocaching doesn’t stop when the sun goes down. That’s especially true when the winter days grow short. A group of Ontario, Canada geocachers known as the BFL Crew go night caching every Friday. Once a year though, it’s not just a few people on the hunt for night caches – more than two hundred geocachers take the woods after dark. Saturday, October 29 will mark the sixth annual “BFL BOOT CAMP.”
The cache page promises, “an evening full of mischief planned, and we’re sure you’ll enjoy it.” John Robb of teamvoyagr is one of more than 15 organizers for the event. He’s been introducing people to night caching for years. He says, “It is natural for people to be apprehensive about going in the woods at night to find caches. Your senses become heightened. You have to keep your eyes open for branches, roots, rocks and other obstacles that are in your path. Noises sound different and much closer at night. The creaking tree always seems closer when it’s dark. This heightened sensitivity is what makes night caching so much fun. You feel the experience more than you see it. ”
The night caching community has grown over the last six years of BFL Boot Camp. Attendance for the 2011 event has already climbed to more than 200 “will attends” and there’s still time to register.
John says part of that success of the event is experiencing the joy of night caching and part of it is enjoying the geocaching community. Hey says, “The BFL Bootcamp combines the fun of caching at night with the group camaraderie of caching with friends. Small groups form up and head out to find the caches. The event runs from 2100h to 0400h and over the course of the night groups will encounter each other on the trails. At those meetings previous finders pass on encouragement and warnings about the challenges of certain caches. As word spreads anticipation mounts.”
This year John says there’s more to experience at night than any other BFL Boot Camp. He says, “This year there have been caches that use reflectors, ultra-violet light (UV), infra-red light, glow in the dark, lasers, LEDs, polarized light, Wherigo and one even used braille.”
If you can’t make it Ontario for the BFL Bootcamp, John offers this advice for your own night caching event, “Start with the basics. Not everyone wants to go traipsing through the woods at night. Create some caches that aren’t too complicated so that people can be rewarded for overcoming their apprehension with a find or two. Finding a night cache is more about your awareness skills than it is about your GPSr. ”
Here’s four easy tips from John about how to get started night caching in small groups:
1) Find a Partner: (or partners): John says, “[We] encourage group searching. We don’t advise doing anything in the woods alone at night.”
2) Light up the Night: John says, “Another important point about night caching is having good lights. An LED headlamp is the best type of light to use. FireTacks [special reflectors] seem to show up better with an LED light. Anything that is retro reflective is much brighter the closer the light source is to your eye.” You may also want to bring a UV light. Many night caching clues involve UV light.
3)Don’t go Dark: John says, “And don’t forget the extra batteries.”
4) Be Aware: Check out some of these favorite night caches to see what’s out there. John says, “Blind Man’s Bluff (GC2G4AV) which required the finder to use locate six tubes that had braille numbers punched on the inside. Underworld (GC2D81G). This cache required the finder to enter several slot caves in the Niagara Escarpment and locate reflectors. This was a physically as well as mentally challenging cache. A tricky cache from two years ago was Signs of Night (GC1Y19Z). The simplicity of this cache can fool you. My group couldn’t figure it out without the help of the hint. I really enjoyed this cache for its elegant simplicity.”
For more on night caching check out this Geocaching.com video.