Say hello to the Northern Virginia Geocaching Organization (NoVAGO)

Geocaching groups and organizations enable players to make wonderful and sometimes lifelong connections with like-minded people. They help beginners learn the game, host awesome Events, do important work with land managers around the world, and much more! Check out HQ’s list and map of geocaching groups and organizations to find one near you.

We look forward to highlighting several groups in the coming months. Let’s start by meeting the Northern Virginia Geocaching Organization (NoVAGO), which attracts members from Virginia, Maryland, and Washington, D.C. Thanks to hrothroc, the group’s Public Relations Officer, for gathering answers to our questions!

When was NoVAGO founded?
The gears were turning as far back as 2005. It took a couple years for our founders to get organized and create official bylaws. The first slate of officers was elected in 2007 and we’ve been an organized group ever since.

How many members are in the group?
Because NoVAGO is part of the DMV (DC, Maryland, Virginia) and attracts members from all three areas, we have more than 600 registered members and many more on our social media platforms. We have a good core membership of geocachers who host and attend events around the area regularly. Our largest annual events consistently attract around 60 people.

How is the group organized?
We have a set of formal bylaws which our officers (elected by the membership) are governed by. The core group of officers relies heavily on volunteers for hosting events, organizing activities, and some administrative work.

Does NoVAGO host any regular events or activities?
Yes! One of our core missions is to promote a community of geocachers through events and activities. Our annual spring and fall potluck picnics are fun and well attended. We have several club-sponsored CITO events each year. And every January, we gather to thank our officers and volunteers.

In addition to our regular events, we sponsor an annual themed series that begins with a kick-off event. Volunteers place caches, there are other unpublished activities (such as finding hidden coins), and it ends with an event that sometimes rewards geocachers for participation. Some years, it is an independent challenge like “Cache Across Northern Virginia” or “Nightmare Before Cachemas.” In other years, volunteers organize us into competitive teams and challenge us with all kinds of games, in addition to finding the themed geocaches. Some of our more recent team series themes were “Survivor,” “Olympics,” and “NoVAGO-University.” These team events are a lot of work to organize, but are very rewarding for participants. They are a great way to stay connected and help people get to know each other better.

What makes NoVAGO special?
The geocaching community is so welcoming anywhere you go. What makes our NoVAGO community so special is that we create opportunities to meet our fellow cachers, get to know them a little better, and create some real friendships. Although we officially only host a few events each year, the local calendar is always full. Our members host multiple events each week. These get-togethers are a great place to gain knowledge and advice, make plans for group caching, or receive a nudge on a challenging puzzle. Come to a few of our events and you’ll have your phone-a-friend call list, ready for your next geocaching adventure, no matter what help you might need.

Our annual spring picnic features our awards ceremony to acknowledge the best caches from the prior year. It is always an honor to win, as there are so many really good geocaches in Northern Virginia. Our fall picnic features a silent auction fundraiser.

What suggestions do you have for existing groups or anyone who wants to start groups in their areas?
If you have a group of people that would like to form a more formal group, we suggest starting with regular geocaching events. Start building that community from the ground up. Those early meetings will be a great place to brainstorm ideas for your group’s name and what kind of structure you might want. Don’t forget to promote your organization. It is great to reach out and build a relationship with the greater community, while also spreading the word about how much fun geocaching can be.

What else should we know about NoVAGO?
We pride ourselves on our education and community outreach; we work with schools, scouts, libraries, and other community groups to teach and promote good geocaching practices. NoVAGO has been featured in magazines and newspapers over the years. We were even featured on American University Radio. We are also proud of our work to keep our environment clean through our many CITO events.

Read more about NoVAGO on their website and Facebook group!

You can find a geocaching group in your area by visiting this list and map of geocaching groups and organizations. This list of orgs was “vetted” with input from community volunteers and Geocaching HQ staff.

The list is a work in progress. We expect to expand it to other countries and add groups and organizations that are active in their communities and are contributing to geocaching in positive ways. Reach out to us with the group you’d like to see included.

Hopelessly addicted cacher and Geocaching HQ's public relations manager.