Creating connections and building community—interview with Marcellus Cadd

We first featured Marcellus Cadd (atreides_78723) in 2020 for his blog Geocaching While Black and his involvement in the geocaching community. We were inspired by his commitment to improve geocaching and his passion for the game. Since the last time we spoke, a lot has happened with Marcellus—more caches, more blogs, and even a featured article from NPR that highlighted him and his message. We wanted to check-in with him on this and more!

Marcellus at a geocaching Event

You were first featured on the Geocaching Blog in 2020. A lot has happened since then! What is new with you and the Geocaching While Black blog?

The newest thing is that I just finished the Kansas 105 County Challenge! That’s my sixth finished state now, along with New Mexico, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Louisiana, and (of course) Texas. I’ve also dipped my toes into several other states (Nevada, Indiana, and South Dakota, to name a few). I’ve picked up a few more Mega-Events and have several more on the horizon for this year. I’m about to hit four years of caching and writing. I feel like this has been a slower year than last year was, and it’s still been busy!

Sight-seeing in Crawford County, Kansas

Shortly after your interview with Geocaching, NPR reached out to you for a feature. What was it like to share your experiences with a major American news outlet?

A little crazy, actually. I couldn’t imagine doing something as big as being interviewed by you all. The very idea of NPR was the proverbial step beyond! It’s a very different thing to write about it than to speak about it out loud, too. It’s a very different audience, too.

But if I could open people up to something new, there was no way I could refuse. The best thing about it was to hear my daughters’ voices on the radio. The hardest part was listening to my own!

Visiting the Summit of Mount Evans in Clear Creek County, Colorado

2022 is the Year of the Hide. You are a cache owner, but you also write in your blog about experiences you have had finding caches in different areas. What tips do you have for someone looking to hide their first geocache?

This may sound both obvious and silly to say, but I would tell a new cacher to make their first hide close to home. You don’t know anywhere like you know your home turf. It makes for easy maintenance, too. I’d also tell them that not every cache has to be epic. Clever and interesting caches are always welcome, but something to find is good for everyone. Besides, a common cache can sometimes be a great one with just a little tweak.

What advice would you give to experienced cache owners?

The experience you provide to cachers is as important as the cache itself, maybe even more so. I’ve encountered difficult caches that left me less enthused than simple “boring” ones. No amount of cleverness can substitute for a poorly maintained, messy cache. That may mean better maintenance or maybe archiving ones that you don’t want to take care of. There’s nothing wrong with replacing it with something better. Ultimately, nobody wants to go on a treasure hunt to be rewarded with a piece of proverbial trash.

Finding a Traditional Cache

What is your favorite part of being a cache owner?

It’s always nice to get a notification that someone has found one of my caches. One of my caches is a puzzle box, and I especially enjoy the messages that come with the Favorite points it gets. Another is a Letterbox Hybrid in downtown Austin, and I get messages from travelers passing through from other states and countries. All of them give me a little warm feeling inside. Every time you make a hide, you give something back to the caching community. If nobody hides things, there’s nothing for anyone to find (hence the Year of the Hide)!

The last time we talked, you recently finished the Texas County Challenge—how was that experience?

It’s probably the caching accomplishment I’m most proud of. When I started it, I couldn’t imagine finishing it. Once it was done, I wanted to do victory laps all over the place! As far as I know, Texas is the only county challenge where the past finishers gather together and welcome new finishers each year. It’s quite a thing to go back each year with a finisher’s blue shirt!

Finishers of the Texas County Challenge: HiDude_98 and Mrs_HiDude

What are your current geocaching goals?

The big one still remains: there are 3,143 (soon to be 3,144, thanks to Connecticut) counties or county-equivalents in the United States, and I want to grab a cache in each one of them! I’ve only been to 727 of them thus far, but give me time! I just dipped my toe into South Dakota for the first time, so I’m thinking about that. I need to go back to Arizona and finish the state. I’m also turning my eye to [CLASSIFIED], but that’s a subject for later…

Marcellus’ county map as of June 2022 on Project-GC

The past two years have looked very different for the geocaching community in terms of socializing. How have you stayed connected with your community during a time when Events aren’t always possible?

I usually consider myself a bit of a lone wolf when it comes to caching, but after all that time it definitely began to weigh on me a bit. I consider myself pretty lucky that I’ve made some good friends while I’ve been doing this. Rolling with like-minded folks is always a lot of fun, but when you’ve spent a couple of years without seeing much of other cachers, it’s not just fun, it’s a sanity-saver! And they have other caching friends who have other caching friends… It’s like a giant web, keeping us all together! So, if I may, shoutout to Carrot Killer, LadyBlackCat, and Razorbackgirl! I adore you folks! Thanks for being recurring characters in my narrative!

Together with the geocaching community

What do you enjoy most about Events? Do you plan on going to any Mega-Events this year?

A lot of people don’t get geocaching. It’s nice to get together with people who do, even if caching isn’t being discussed. There’s something to be said for just being around people who get you and what you have chosen because they’ve chosen it, too. As for Mega-Events, I’ve got several in sight this year. GeoCoinFest 2022 is right down the road in San Antonio this year. I’m also hoping to hit WorldWide CacheFest in Memphis, Tennessee. The big show though will be in the Pacific Northwest. I’ve already started planning in earnest for the GeoWoodstock Giga-Event and the 20th Anniversary Celebration!

Colorado’s oldest cache

You occasionally take your daughters geocaching with you—what do you hope they gain from the experience?

I often joke that my daughters are the best TOTTs! My older daughter has a keen eye and has spotted a lot of things that I think even my more experienced eye would have missed. My younger daughter, on the other hand, is a master climber and often tells me that she’s not going to help unless there’s something to climb! Of course, as they’ve gotten older, they’ve lost some of the taste for it they used to have, but I still drag them along with me from time to time.

I want them to enjoy getting away from phones, anime, and videos, and spend a little time in the outdoors. More than anything, I want them to have memories of getting out with their father and doing things together. Nothing can beat that.

What are some life lessons you’ve learned while geocaching?

I could say something about perseverance, attention to detail, or something a little trite like that, but the biggest lesson geocaching has given me is this: if you will it, “Dude, it is no dream” (if you don’t mind me quoting the fictional Walter Sobchak quoting the very real Theodor Hertzl).

I wanted to find caches, so I made it a daily thing and now I’m pushing four years in a row at this point. I wanted to find ones in new counties, and now I’ve been to almost a quarter of the counties (or county equivalents) in the United States. I wanted to write about the places I’ve been and the things I did, and if you had told me when this all started that I’d have over 900 blog entries about it, I wouldn’t have believed you.

My point here (and I do have one) is that if you do your thing and keep doing it, the worst thing that happens is that you make yourself happy. The best thing that happens is that you accomplish something you never dreamed of!

Marcellus at the 20th Annual Texas Challenge and Festival
Mackenzie is a Senior Community Manager at Geocaching HQ. Born and raised in the Pacific Northwest she loves finding new geocaches and exploring the area. You will typically find her out on the coast discovering new lighthouses.