This article is part of an upcoming series featuring interviews with geocaching Community Volunteers.
“Just say Shahn-uh-key.”
That’s what Community Volunteer Reviewer The Seanachai helpfully suggests to those struggling with the username, which is gaelic for “storyteller” or more accurately “keeper of the old lore”.
A Reviewer for Tennessee—appropriately known as the ‘Volunteer State’—The Senachai has been reviewing and publishing geocaches for the community since 2009. His love of the game began six years before that, when a friend suggested that geocaching could provide a new way to explore familiar places. Sound familiar?
“My best friend, who caches under the name FullCT, told me about this cool site he had found that promised something for us to do on the ‘3rd weekend in Cleveland’. That phrase was a longstanding issue for us as we both traveled extensively in our jobs and found ourselves returning to the same locales over and over. Nothing against Cleveland, but it somehow came to represent our problem. The first trip you hit the major tourist things, the spots the place was famous for; on the next trip you hit some of the lesser known treasures that you learned about on the first trip, but by the third time around you were running out of places to explore and Geocaching fit that niche perfectly, as it gave us a tour of cool spots as presented by the locals. Of course, this was 2003 when there were far fewer caches and by their nature they were often at cool locations.”
We asked The Seanachai to tell us about himself, about being a Volunteer Reviewer, and about his geocaching bucket list. Read on to learn more about the person behind the pixel icon.
What do you enjoy about being a reviewer?
“It is a cliche, but when I was asked to become a reviewer in 2009, I was truly honored to be given this opportunity to to give back to this game which has given so much to me. My life has been enhanced in a hundred ways by my involvement in the game, from losing a significant amount of weight, to meeting new friends, learning new skills (like kayaking and rappelling), exploring around the world, to finding a hobby that my wife and I, and now our son, can all enjoy together. My favorite part of being a reviewer is getting to help my fellow cachers navigate the sometimes tricky path to getting a geocache published. I see a big part of my job as helping geocachers to not only work within the guidelines, but to help them understand why the current guidelines are in place. In my experience, every single guideline is in response to a particular event or series of events which made that guideline necessary. I find that once people understand why a particular guideline was enacted, that it helps them in their future geocaching plans. I also enjoy the chance to help open new areas for geocaching, especially when that help involves local geocachers and geocaching groups who are working with their land mangers in a responsible way to promote the game.”
What kind of caches do you most like to review?
“I am not particular when it comes to type. Just like in my everyday geocaching, I like all types of caches and experiences. I do love reviewing geocaches where there has been a lot of thought put into the placement, where the cache owner is truly excited to share a location or bit of history with their fellow geocachers and they have worked to create a geocache that is about a total experience. It is exciting to review a geocache that looks so cool that it inspires you to get out and hunt it at a later date.”
How can someone best set up their cache listing in order to have it published quickly?
“When it comes to having your geocache published quickly, the more information you can provide, the better. We have several criteria that we have to look at and questions we must ask before we can publish a listing, so having the answers on the cache page or in a reviewer note really helps us out. If you can go ahead and describe the cache container, how it is hidden, who owns the property and who has given permission for the hide in a reviewer note, it really, really, really speeds up the process. Plus, all of that information is removed before the cache is published, so there is no worry that the surprise will be ruined for your fellow geocachers.”
How would you describe geocaching in Tennessee?
“Tennessee has a great community of geocachers across the state and an incredible variety of geocaches to hunt. Whether you want to hit a power trail with friends and find hundreds in a day, rattle your brain with a mind-bending puzzle or get away hiking in beauty and solitude to find only one cache in nature, Tennessee has exactly what you are looking for. I am very proud of the great diversity of geocaches and the great sense of community among cachers here in the Volunteer State, but I am even more proud to be a part of a global community of geocachers who show that being awesome is not a trait exclusive to Tennessee geocachers. I have had the good fortune to find geocaches in 49 states and 16 other countries on 4 continents and I can say from personal experience that geocachers are the most incredible group of welcoming people no matter where you are on the planet. The sense of camaraderie shared by geocachers all over is amazing and it is an honor to be a part of this global community.”
Aside from geocaching, what other hobbies do you have?
“Geocaching is my favorite hobby/lifestyle and it has crept into most aspects of my life, but when not caching, I love to read and travel, I write from time to time, do a little painting, play music and sing with more passion than skill, enjoy cooking with my family and friends. I am an amateur blacksmith, like to attend concerts, live theatre, lectures, etc. and although it doesn’t sound much like a hobby, I really enjoy working around our farm and playing with my wife and our son Liam. I work hard when I need to and play hard, when I can.”
Finally, if you could go geocaching anywhere in the world (or find any geocache in the world), where would you go?
“That is a dangerous question, because once you set a goal, well…that is how you end up on the road to adventure. I normally seek out the oldest caches in states and countries, just to see where things started for an area. I also try to seek out caches with lots of favorite points when I am traveling in order to see the best of what geocaching has to offer wherever I am. I also travel to a number of Geocaching events including many mega-events each year. Consequently, I have been lucky enough to find many of the “feather in your hat” caches from world famous caches like the Unoriginal Stash and Geocaching HQ; to local favorites such as the Necropolis of Britannia Manor in Austin, Texas, or challenging 5/5’s like The Ghost Orchid in the Everglades. My most recent geocaching goals included seeking and finding the last remaining Project APE cache in Brazil and traveling to Germany to be a part of the world’s first Giga-Event last year.”
“So, if I could go geocaching anywhere in the world, I guess I would want to visit the three remaining continents to see what geocaching is like there. I’d love to travel to Antarctica to find any of the geocaches there, but if I could do only one it would have to be Ross Island, the oldest cache on the most distant continent. I’d also love to visit Australia and seek out the EarthCache at Uluru/Ayers Rock, it looks like an incredible experience. That said, the only one that I am seriously considering at the moment is a trip to Asia to seek out the most-favorited geocache in Thailand, Safe in the bowels of Kao San *Welcome to Bangkok*.”