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16 Years Later

On March 24, 2009, Jon Stanley (username: Moun10Bike) stood on 5th Avenue in downtown Seattle, WA. He snapped a selfie before walking into the nondescript office across the street. It was Jon’s first day at a new job.

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Jon’s first day at Geocaching HQ.

“I took a selfie — perhaps my first-ever — of me arriving at Groundspeak on my first day working here,” said Jon. “I was told I was employee #28.”

Jon had a long history with the game before joining the company behind Geocaching.com, now known as Geocaching HQ. He first met Founder Jeremy Irish in 2000. Over lunch, the two discussed software that Jon had provided for an early version of the website. “The community was small then and I was in the same geographic area,” Jon said. “So it was natural that we would end up getting together.”

Jeremy realized that Geocaching.com’s traffic would quickly outgrow the website he’d started as a hobby site. In 2000, he partnered with two co-workers, Elias Alvord and Bryan Roth, to start a new company. With the proceeds from selling 144 geocaching t-shirts, they began to scale the website to keep up with its growing audience. The three founders continued working at their day jobs while managing the website on the side.

Cathy Hornback (username: Prying Pandora) first met the founders when they spontaneously showed up at her Cache In, Trash Out® Event. “I almost peed my pants when they just showed up. No warning.”

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Cathy with Geocaching.com Founder Jeremy Irish in 2006.

Today, Cathy wears multiple hats: player (she’s going on 15,000 finds), volunteer reviewer, and Community Volunteer Support Coordinator at Geocaching HQ. “We exist because one guy had a crazy idea to hide a bucket of trinkets for other people to find with their newly accurate GPS receivers. Then another guy (Jeremy) had the gumption to build a website to list them all,” said Cathy.

Cathy first met Jon in 2005 while looking for the same geocache. Five years later, she joined him as an employee at Geocaching HQ. “We exist because of our community’s engagement,” Cathy said. “Without them, there would be nothing.”

Jon and Cathy were welcomed on their first days at Geocaching HQ by another long-time geocacher. Annie Love (username: Love) said, “I still pinch myself daily that I get to work here,” Annie says. “Geocaching was my hobby before I started working here and it’s a dream to get to do something I love for work. Sure, I sit at a desk most of the time, but getting to help people with this game for work is pretty awesome.”

Annie joined Geocaching HQ on January 29, 2007. “My first job was to work as the receptionist at the front desk, answer phone calls and emails about the game of geocaching.”

When Annie started, there were a dozen or so employees and 353,685 active geocaches. Today, Geocaching HQ has 74 employees and the website lists nearly 3 million geocaches hidden all over the world.

Annie, now Partner Programs Manager, said, “We really listen to our community. We might not be able to make everything to perfection overnight, but we definitely hear the wants and needs of the community and apply that directly to what we work on.”

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A company photo taken in June 2007, shortly after Annie and Jenn started.

A few months later, Jenn Seva (username: MissJenn) joined Geocaching HQ as employee #17, having previously served as a Community Volunteer Reviewer. “I started as a player of the game in 2001. I’m lucky enough to have combined my hobby and my livelihood without ruining either one of them.”

Now Senior Manager of Tourism and Travel, Jenn said, “Geocaching HQ is different than most other companies because we are made up of employees who want to be here. We want to delight our community and encourage people to go play outside. I don’t feel like just an insignificant cog in a giant wheel.”

Jon, Cathy and Annie feel similarly. “You only need to talk to the founders or any employee to see that we are passionate about the game and keeping people engaged with a fun and rewarding pastime for years to come,” said Jon. “While we may seem to move slow, it is not because of a lack of desire to improve things, only that we are a lot smaller than people know. I see our purpose to be good custodians of the game and provide the tools and means for people to have and share these experiences and adventures.”

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A company photo taken last summer.

Sixteen years later, Geocaching HQ remains a strong, independent organization on a mission to enable adventure, exploration, and discovery. We are led by our original founders and and we have no outside investors or influences who would maximize profits at the expense of the game. 

Annie said, “The community creates the game. We want to create the best tools to play it.”

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Have questions about Geocaching HQ? Post them in the comments below.

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GeoTours Now On Mobile!

We often hear geocachers say they love the game because they get to experience new places like a local. We love this about geocaching too.

We are excited to announce that GeoTours — custom collections of geocaches designed to introduce you to new locations — are now in the Geocaching® app! It’s easier than ever to explore the 60+ GeoTours currently available around the world.

Take a tour of the app’s newest feature.

First time exploring a GeoTour? Learn how to get started.

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View GeoTour details for travel destinations.

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Search for GeoTours by specific GT codes. Like a geocache’s GC code, each GeoTour has a unique identifier called a GT code. View the complete listing of GeoTours and GT codes here.

 

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Basic members can find and log GeoTour caches of all types and D/T ratings.

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Make one of these GeoTours your next geocaching vacation.

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Operation Recreation GeoTour in Florida (GT3D).
Geocaching Capital of Canada GeoTour in Ontario:
Geocaching Capital of Canada GeoTour in Ontario (GT5D).
The Knokke-Heist GeoTour in Belgium (GT6E).
The Knokke-Heist GeoTour in Belgium (GT6E).
The Heart of Sweden GeoTour (GT74).
The Heart of Sweden GeoTour (GT74).
Explore Royal Deeside GeoTour in Scotland (GT60).
Explore Royal Deeside GeoTour in Scotland (GT60).
Kentucky State Parks GeoTour (GT48).
Kentucky State Parks GeoTour (GT48).

Browse the 60+ global GeoTour Directory. Then, download the app to get started.

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3 Secrets of Trackable Racing Revealed

You’ve joined the HQ Duck Dash and you’re in it to win it — “it” being global recognition and eternal bragging rights of course.

Like competitive sports everywhere, trackable racing has its insider secrets. So what is the “carb-loading” (marathon running) or “jaw-xercising” (competitive eating) equivalent of trackable racing?

It all comes down to collaboration and communication! While not immediately obvious, the HQ Duck Dash is a team sport — you’re just playing with people you’ve most likely never met. Your job, as trackable team captain, is to get all your faraway teammates on the same page.

Here are 3 tips to get you started:

TB Tip #1: Establish a clear goal for your trackable. With five very different categories, it’s unlikely that you’ll sweep them all. Pick and choose your strengths!

TB Tip #2: Communicate your goal clearly on the trackable page so that other geocachers can help your trackable along. The trackable mission statement at the end of this blog post can be used as a sample for your own trackable racer. Make sure you tailor it to the HQ Duck Dash categories you’d like to compete in — and don’t forget to include the part about ending at an International Geocaching Day event on August 20!

TB Tip #3: Send encouraging messages to your fellow geocachers using the Message Center — encouraging being the key word here. Trackable racing is a polite sport!

Sample Mission Statement

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Every trackable entered into HQ Duck Dash will receive a special digital icon, helping to identify it as part of the race.

This trackable is competing in the HQ Duck Dash!

This trackable <TB name> is racing in the HQ Duck Dash 2016. To be eligible for global recognition and eternal bragging rights, it needs to make it to a geocaching event on International Geocaching Day (August 20, 2016). You can find a list of events here: https://www.geocaching.com/calendar/

<TB name> is competing in the following race categories:

  • Most Geocaches Involved
  • Most Story-Worthy Moment (Best Log)

Please move this trackable to its next geocache and leave a nice log about your experience to help it meet its goal! Thank you!

Go here to learn more about the HQ Duck Dash.

What tips do you have for trackable racing success? Tell us in the comments below.
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Enter the HQ Duck Dash: A Global Trackable Race

It’s a Duck Eat Duck World Out There…

UPDATE: Registration for the HQ Duck Dash is now closed. However, you can still enter the race by purchasing an official Deadly Duck tag, which will be automatically entered into the race upon activation (even after the official start of the race on July 20, 2016). Get a Deadly Duck.

On August 30, 2001, Geocaching.com Founder Jeremy Irish activated the world’s first trackable, TB1.

Jeremy says, “When we first started Travel Bugs, I released 7 Deadly Ducks in the wild.” Each of the new trackables were based on one of the deadly sins. These Deadly Ducks, with the names of Envy, Sloth, Pride, Gluttony, Lust and Wrath, headed out into the world to travel from geocache to geocache. (The Greed Deadly Duck was placed in a geocache that was never listed on Geocaching.com and may still be hidden in Virginia.)

Thus began a game within a game: trackables. Today there are more than 2,655,951 trackables traveling around the world — making friends, creating memories and patiently waiting to complete their mission. 

Travel Bug Story by Chiliconsushi from Geocaching on Vimeo.

In honor of the 15th anniversary of trackables, we’re hosting a worldwide trackable race featuring the reincarnated Deadly Ducks. You’re invited to enter!

The race will begin July 20, 2016 at 12:01am PST and ends on August 20, 2016 at 11:59pm PST.

How to Join the HQ Duck Dash:

  1. Get a new unactivated trackable! Enter your duck-themed trackable (like these ones!) or any other trackable without prior travel history. (Pro Tip: Do NOT place your trackable in a geocache until July 20, 2016 or later. Movement prior to this date may disqualify your trackable.)
  2. Activate it.
  3. Set your trackable’s mission. (Pro Tip: Include instructions to get your trackable to a geocaching event on August 20, International Geocaching Day.)
  4. Read the HQ Duck Dash Code of Honor. By entering a trackable into this year’s race, you agree to abide by these rules.
  5. Enter your trackable into the race by filling out this signup form by July 17, 2016. (The official Deadly Duck tags will be automatically entered into the race once they are activated, even after the official start of the race on July 20, 2016.) You must be 18 years or older to participate.
  6. Watch your trackable race to a geocaching event on International Geocaching Day!

Enter your trackable into the HQ Duck Dash.

How Do I Win?

First off, everyone’s a winner! All participating trackable owners will receive a HQ Duck Dash badge to add to their profile.

To be eligible for the following recognition, trackables must end their journey at a geocaching event on International Geocaching Day, August 20, 2016. 1st, 2nd and 3rd place winners in the following categories will be chosen and featured by Geocaching HQ, thus earning eternal and international bragging rights:

Best Trackable Photo

Awarded to the trackables with the best photo from the race as decided by HQ. Photos can be submitted through this form (by the original photographer).

Most Story-Worthy Moment (Best Log)

Awarded to the trackables with the most heartfelt, epic and/or generally entertaining log as decided by HQ. Logs must be submitted through this form (by the trackable owner or logger) to be eligible.

Furthest Distance Traveled

Awarded to the trackables that travel the greatest distance between geocaches from July 20 and August 20.

Most Geocaches Involved

Awarded to the trackables that drop in or visit the greatest number of different geocaches between July 20 and August 20.

Most Geocachers Involved

Awarded to the trackables that are grabbed and moved by the greatest number of geocachers between July 20 and August 20.

Ready to race? Get your Deadly Duck trackable from Shop Geocaching or one of our International Retailers, or register a trackable by submitting this form before July 17, 2016.

Get a Deadly Duck

Questions? Check out the Trackable Race FAQ.

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HQ Duck Dash Code of Honor

By entering the HQ Duck Dash, you agree to the following:

Trackable etiquette is important for (1) ensuring a fun and fair race and (2) furthering world peace. The Participant understands that this race is all in good fun and agrees to exercise, to the best of their ability, good manners such as the following:

  • Never, under any circumstance, fake (aka ‘couch’) log a trackable.
  • Log that you have retrieved the trackable from the geocache as soon as you’re able.
  • Move other trackables along in a timely fashion, even if they are your competitors and your deepest desire is for eternal bragging rights.
  • Do not bring chaos to the universe by attaching the same tracking code to multiple objects.

Participant understands that this list is by no means exhaustive and agrees not to seek loopholes of any kind.

Participant understands that violating this Code shall jeopardize (i) the existence of fun in the world and (ii) your trackable’s ability to bring home glory (aka bragging rights) of both the eternal and international kind. Given the size of the geocaching audience (millions!) and shortage of HQ drones, the participant understands that Geocaching HQ will not enforce all aspects of this Code; however, violating this Code may place your trackable at risk of disqualification (seriously).

Learn more about the HQ Duck Dash.