Last Saturday, 120 people from the Philadelphia, PA and Camden, NJ area found themselves in the unlikely position of being consumed by mud from below, and drenched by rain from above.
Plastic ponchos were given out, and individuals who’d been roughly human-shaped their whole lives were suddenly transformed into large blue flying squirrels.
Soon, the people picking up the garbage became nearly indistinguishable from the garbage itself. And still they worked, until 10,151 pounds of trash was scraped from the banks of the Cooper River.
How does a person create an account for a GPS treasure hunt game and end up cleaning up a muddy river on a rainy April morning?
A CITO — or Cache In Trash Out® event — is a type of geocache. But…instead of using an app or GPS to find a hidden container, you’ll need to attend a CITO event in order to be able to claim the geocache “find”. CITO events aim to improve the geocaching game board (Earth) by bringing people together to pick up trash, remove invasive species, restore greenspaces, or build trails. It’s geocaching’s ongoing environmental initiative, which people can participate in year round.
Last week’s CITO was hosted by ODragon, a veteran CITO organizer, Community Volunteer Reviewer, and 12-year geocacher. For the fourth year in a row, ODragon tacked his CITO event on to a large community cleanup organized by United By Blue. The apparel company puts on community events all over the United States (find one near you), out of which any geocacher can create a CITO event.
ODragon estimates roughly a third of the 120 attendees were there because of his CITO listing. And attendees at this event got more than they’d bargained for, in many ways. All cleanup supplies were provided, and the United By Blue organizers took care of disposing of all the collected garbage. Everyone who attended got t-shirts free of charge, as well as pizza for lunch.
CITO attendee and geocacher GerIRL said,
I’m almost ashamed to admit it, but after 11+ years of geocaching, this is only my 1st ever CITO attended. I promise – I’ll try to do better over the next 11+ years! Anyway, I perused all the NJ CITO’s, and decided to drive the 80 minutes down the turnpike to come here. It was really a lot of fun – the weather was nasty, rainy and chilly, but I wore my waders and went on tire patrol, pulling out 5 tires from the tidal mud flats. Then I grabbed some bags to pick up regular trash. I was really impressed at the turnout – there must have been about a hundred people who volunteered. I waited for the weigh-in, and left before the pizza arrived. 10,000+ lbs of trash is amazing. The park looks a whole lot better now than it did yesterday. Thanks to ‘O for organizing.”
The cleanup was cut short when a geocacher pulled a human skull out of the mud. The police were called, the skull confiscated, and the area roped off with police tape. Logs on the cache page are littered with similar sentiment: “We hope that this find brings closure to someone somewhere.”
Despite the turn for the dark and grisly, ODragon says this is his most successful CITO cleanup event yet, in terms of pounds of trash removed and number of attendees at a Cooper River event. And for that reason, Cooper River Cleanup is the first ever CITO Geocache of the Week!
Continue to explore some of the most amazing geocaches around the world.
Check out all of the Geocaches of the Week on the Geocaching blog. If you would like to nominate a Geocache of the Week, fill out this form.
That’s how many geocachers around the world collected garbage, restored natural areas, and worked on community improvement projects last weekend.
If each person picked up one 5 lb bag of trash, that’s over 40 metric tons of garbage. That’s (approximately) 7.4 elephants, or 7 elephants and two cows. C’mon geocachers–Give yourselves a round of applause!
Each of these geocachers earned the CITO 2015 souvenir, which celebrates the thousands of geocachers who care for the geocaching game board—also known as planet Earth. On International Cache In, Trash Out Weekend geocachers around the world hosted and participated in Cache In, Trash Out events in their area. Events might be focused on litter clean-up, removal of invasive species, revegetation efforts, or building trails. The environmental impact of these efforts is felt tangibly by communities across the globe.
We’ve seen hundreds of photos from CITO events around the world. One attendee from each of the following two events will receive a special prize package from Geocaching HQ, for sharing their “Attended” log with us!
How do you pronounce the acronym, CITO? Let us know!
Share your CITO Weekend 2015 pictures, stories, and accomplishments!
There has never been a better day to care for the geocaching game board (our planet!) than today — regardless of whether you live somewhere that celebrates Earth Day.
Take a moment to think about the most beautiful place you’ve ever gone geocaching. Got it? Now consider: will that place continue to exist without the efforts of people who care for it? How can you be one of those people?
The answer may depend on the space you thought of and your situation in life. But here are six suggestions to jump-start your contributions this week…and beyond.
1. Sign up for a CITO event this weekend.
Not only is attending a Cache In, Trash Out (CITO) event a great way to give back to our planet, if you attend one this weekend you’ll also earn a souvenir for your geocaching profile. Find a CITO event near you.
2. Find an EarthCache near you.
“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world,” said Nelson Mandela. What better way to heed his words than by finding an EarthCache and learning something new about a geological “cache” the earth has stored.
3. Do some human-powered caching.
If you normally drive a car when you go geocaching, think about how you could change things up to lower your ‘caching carbon footprint. Are there geocaches within walking or biking distance that you haven’t found? Maybe it’s time to figure out the public transit system and use it to find some city ‘caches. Think about finding some geocachers in your area and carpooling with them on geocaching trips!
4. Resolve to change a habit.
If New Year’s Eve is the night to kick off a new personal health habit, then Earth Day should be the day that kicks off a habit that helps you be a better environmental guardian. Perhaps this means taking half the time to shower as you normally do, or considering the environmental impact of the production of the food you eat and making some changes.
5. Retrieve your archived caches.
This one’s a must. Maybe you archived your cache a few months back and haven’t had “a chance” to pick it up yet. Put away the guilt and GO PICK IT UP!
6. Go outside.
When’s a good time to go outside? After you’ve finished reading the last word of this article. Seriously. The more time you spend outdoors, the more you’ll understand why it’s important to care for our natural spaces. Invite a friend, the kids, or the dog for a walk. Breathe in and out. Ready, set, GO.
Happy Earth Day everybody!
On April 24–27, geocachers around the world will gather at events to clean up natural areas, plant trees or remove invasive species and earn a souvenir. Check out the Event Calendar or the new geocache search for CITOs near you. Make sure to mark your ‘Will Attend’ to let the event organizers know you’re coming.
The next weekend, May 2 marks the 15th anniversary of when Geocaching began. Get out and find a geocache—any geocache—and you’ll earn a special 15 Years of Geocaching souvenir. Plus, you’ll discover your geocaching mission for the summer.