Geocachers are the nicest people: My trip to the 12th Annual GCHR Picnic Mega-Event

GroupPhoto
Can you spot the Geocaching HQ’er? (Hint: Look for the green sunglasses.)

Editor’s note: Geocaching HQ staff are  attending dozens of Mega-Events around the world, shaking hands, sharing stories of adventure, and of course, geocaching. Each person at Geocaching HQ brings their own unique talent to advancing the adventure. Some write code for the website, others design images for the apps, and some shoot videos explaining it all. Paige Edmiston is a Communications Specialist for Geocaching HQ. She recently traveled to Hampton Roads, Virginia to attend the 12th Annual GCHR Picnic Mega-Event. Here’s her story.

I was the lucky Geocaching HQ staff member who attended the 12th Annual GCHR Picnic Mega-Event in Hampton Roads, Virginia. The event takes place at the crossroads of nature and early American history, where the best of both are highlighted through unique geocaching experiences. But that’s not what makes this event so special. This event is special because it has an extraordinary power to bring people together into community.

At my first Geocaching Block Party, a geocacher gave me a pin that read “Geocachers are the nicest people.” I thought it was cute, so I’ve held onto it all these years. But now, for the first time, I think I fully understand the truth behind that statement. It only took 2400 miles, hundreds of geocachers, and a dance with Signal the Frog (more on that later) for me to finally “get it”.

Geocachers really, truly are the nicest people you’ll ever meet.

What I learned from the 12th Annual GCHR Picnic Mega-Event:

NewGeocachingFriends
My geocaching chauffeurs.

You can show up knowing no one and leave with friends for life. In what world can you go to a party without knowing a single soul and immediately feel like part of the family? The geocaching world, that’s where. Heck, the geocachers at the 12th Annual GCHR Picnic made me feel welcome even before the event started. A lovely group of geocachers who had driven from Pennsylvania to Virginia for the event waited at the airport to greet me. Showing up at the farewell breakfast the morning after the big event felt like catching up with old friends.

Geocachers are always prepared — and happy to share. Virginia has a few wonderful things Seattle doesn’t, and a few not-so-wonderful things: namely, chiggers and ticks. Luckily, a geocacher at the event had come prepared with enough bug spray to share with an unprepared Geocaching HQ’er. In addition to bug spray, the delightful event organizer Penguincacher equipped me with a yellow, trackable Jeep so that I could drive around in style. And yes, this Jeep was inspired by the Jeep Travel Bugs!

Love is in the details. Sometimes, it’s the small things that reveal how kind, caring and, well, detail-oriented the people you meet along the geocaching trail can be. Just a few examples from Hampton Roads:

A larger-than-life log book.

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The brains behind the log book. Think there’s enough room to sign your name?

A contest filled with creative challenges designed to reveal the true “GeoSurvivors.” I’m happy to report my partner Maingray and I took second place. I think that means we would survive a Zombie Apocalypse. Maybe.

GeoSurvivor
The epic slow walk of GeoSurvivor (second place) champions. Photo by steve-n-kim.

A special Lab Cache created to make me feel welcome.

Lackey, VA
Note: Lackey, Virginia. Photo by Monkeybrad.

And, of course, no portable toilet would be complete without a bouquet of flowers.

PortaPotty
An extra dose of geocaching love.

And finally, being quirky is awesome. Geocaching is about exploration, adventure, and discovery, but it’s also about being a part of a community that challenges you to step outside your comfort zone and, at the same time, appreciates you just for being you. I never dreamed I would ever be in a position where I had the opportunity — and the support — to show the world my love of goofy dancing by tangoing with a giant Signal the Frog. Then again, I should have known: geocaching is always full of surprises.

Paige Edmiston
Paige (ThePaigeTurner) is a Marketing Specialist at Geocaching HQ. She likes books.