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Announcing the 2014 CITO Weekend and Souvenir

WeeklyMailer_012414_CITO_vFINAL_Blog (1)

Get ready for a classic win-win situation from the geocaching playbook: lend a hand to improve the geocaching game board (a local park, trail, or geocaching-friendly location) and earn the 2014 CITO souvenir. It’s easy and rewarding.

It all happens during the 2014 CITO Weekend on April 26 and 27. Everyone who logs an “Attended” at a Cache In Trash Out (CITO) Event earns this year’s CITO souvenir for their Geocaching profile. So start planning your event now!

During a CITO Event, geocachers search parks, trails and forests to earn a smiley—but they’re not looking for geocaches. They’re clearing litter and trash from geocaching-friendly areas around the world. On CITO weekend, thousands of geocachers will walk away from their events with bags of trash and a sense of pride. They’re preserving the natural beauty of our world. It’s often more than litter clean up. Some CITO events remove invasive species, plant trees or build trails.

Join the geocaching community movement. CITO events are held all year long, but you’ll have plenty of events to choose from on April 26 and 27.  Last year, over 13,000 geocachers from more than 30 countries combined in the annual worldwide environmental effort, which is tied closely with Earth Day.

Share this CITO video, create a CITO event near you and gear up with CITO trash bags, trackables and more at Shop Geocaching. See you in April for the 2014 CITO Weekend!

 

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Geocaching in Harmony with Nature (Part 1)

6 Tips for Hiding an Environmentally Friendly Geocache

 

forest2
That’s just… cute

The sun weaves its warm beams through the thick growth of the forest. The birds are singing a familiar tune  and in the distance you hear the careful footsteps of a deer. The geocache you are looking for is only a few feet away. Your geosense is heightened, you take a deep breath inhaling the calming perfume of the forest and look around. You spot a small stack of unnaturally parallel branches and…sure enough, the geocache you were looking for is right underneath!

“Aww”, you say, “I love nature!” Guess what: so do we. And what’s the best way to give that love to Mother Earth? Hide an environmentally-friendly geocache.

To help you out, we put together a list of our top tips and tricks for nature-nice geocaches:

  • Think before you hide. If you’re hiding a geocache in the forest or a park  make sure to get permission from land management first. They will be able to let you know if there are special rules or regulations in the area and if there is wildlife you could be disturbing. Pro-tip: To give park and land managers a better understanding of what to expect, check out nearby geocaches and calculate the number of geocache logs per month. That way they can decide if the number of additional visitors each month is sustainable.

  • Have a comprehensive geocache details page. A good description can help fellow geocachers do the right thing. Let them know what they are looking for and what they need to bring. Parking coordinates for the trailhead or specific local policies are important information to put on the details page as well. If you are hiding in a sensitive area, you don’t want geocachers to turn over every stone and create countless “geotrails”. Prevent this from happening by choosing the appropriate ratings for difficulty and terrain, and come up with a good hint.

deer
Be considerate when hiding – for a moment like this!
  • Place the geocache carefully. When looking for the perfect hiding place for your geocache, be sure to pick a spot that doesn’t disturb what’s already there. That means no digging, chopping, cutting, burrowing, etc…  Another good idea is to place your geocache near an existing trail and add a waypoint for the coordinates of the trailhead, so cachers won’t approach the cache from the wrong side and have to bushwhack.

  • Choose an appropriate geocache container. Your geocache container should be waterproof, tough, scentless and of appropriate size. Searching for a micro in the woods with heavy tree coverage and spotty reception can lead to a fruitless search and disturbed wilderness. Food or scented trade items (for example candles or air fresheners) can attract animals that might chew up the container and possibly get sick. If your geocache is attached to something, don’t put any permanent fasteners (screws, nails, etc.) into any trees or shrubs, regardless if they’re dead or alive.

treehuggers
Some geocachers are tree-huggers.
  • Work with your geocaching community volunteer. Give your geocaching community volunteer reviewer as much information as you can about the location and placement of the geocache. They have substantial experience and will know if the placement or attachment of a geocache could cause potential problems for plants and wildlife.

  • Don’t leave Cache-Trash. It happens: you move away or you just do not have the time to maintain your geocache anymore. Before you archive it, ask around. Maybe one of your fellow geocachers wants to adopt the geocache. (Go here to learn how to adopt a geocache.) If you have to archive the geocache after all, be sure to remove your geocache container from its hiding spot.

Do you feel ready to get outside and explore nature? We hope that these tips will help to make you nature’s best friend when you hide your next geocache. But this is not all you can do to be an environmentally friendly geocacher. Next time we will give you tips on “How to find a geocache in an environmentally friendly way.” But you might already know…

Write your best tips for environmentally savvy finding in the comments below.

Here are our 6 best tips for Finding a Geocache in an Environmentally Friendly Way.

Fun with a Side of Mega-Event Geocaching

Editor’s note: Geocaching HQ staff are joining geocachers at Mega-Events around the world to celebrate and share the adventure of geocaching. Amy Faulkner, attended the 11th Annual Geocaching Hampton Roads Picnic (GC42NJJ). This is Amy’s account of her trip.

Amy (in middle) with the basket logbook
Amy (in middle) with the basket logbook

I recently traveled across the country from Geocaching HQ in Seattle, WA to Newport News, VA to attend the 11th Annual Geocaching Hampton Roads Picnic (GC42NJJ). This Mega-Event looked really interesting from the get-go but I certainly had no idea what a trip I was in for.

Upon arrival Friday evening for the event’s Meet & Greet (GC4FDA7), I was barely in the parking lot of the event venue when I was asked by a fellow geocacher to stop my car so they could take a picture of the trackable code I had placed on the window. As weird as this may sound, it was a refreshing welcome to the event and it gave me the comforting feeling that even though I was 3000 miles from home I was right where I belonged. The excitement as I walked in to the event only grew. I met the event organizers (more on them later) and attendees from all over the United States. I listened to some great geocaching stories and received my awesome registration pack that included a lunch tote, a t-shirt, a water bottle, a pen with a stylus, a geocaching hat and so much more. I had so much fun, but this was merely a glimpse of what was in store.

At the end of the event I set out for dinner with some fellow geocachers that are also the worldwide geocaching community reviewers for North Carolina and Tennessee. Although I had not met MonkeyBrad, NCReviewer and Dogwood_Reviewer before, we had exchanged a few emails prior to the event and decided that we would grab some dinner afterward.

ff89aa13-5579-4317-b136-86429963bdc3Occasionally around Geocaching HQ or out in the game you hear that “geocaching makes the world smaller.” I have heard this in regards to folks getting out and exploring places they normally wouldn’t have and geocachers exchanging stories about similar experiences they have had in finding the same cache, but what happened at the random restaurant we chose for dinner is one of those exemplary stories that you almost can’t believe. Picture this: as the group of us sit down to dinner, our waiter approaches the table in the overly exuberant waiter style and introduces himself. He’s super friendly, he tells us the specials, asks for our drink order, makes a suggestion on a good beer to try and heads off to obtain the drinks. As he returns with the beverages, he inquires as to why so many of us at the table have on geocaching shirts. This was quite observant on his part as we were not sitting there in matching uniforms but in various different geocaching shirts.

We explained that we were in town for the event. We discussed with him where each of us traveled from and then, when the waiter did not ask us what geocaching was we inquired if he was a geocacher. Read carefully, here’s where it gets interesting… Our waiter then tells us nonchalantly that he’s “been a few times” and he continues to tell us that he once found a geocache in Chattanooga, Tennessee that required him to paddle out to it and he was one of only 40 some people to find it since it was placed in 2006.

Photo Op
Photo Op

Around this time I happened to glance across the table at MonkeyBrad to see a perplexed look on his face. He asked the waiter if the name of the cache was Island Booty and the waiter enthusiastically said yes. MonkeyBrad then explained that he was the co-owner of that geocache and the entire table erupted in laughter and cheer and sounds of disbelief that our waiter, who barely identified himself as a geocacher, had such a great and vivid story that he shared with us in the middle of Virginia about an elusive geocache that he found in Tennessee.

After a great dinner and a lot of geocaching stories we turned in for the night with great anticipation of what the next day and the big event would bring.

The morning started off with an event called a Muffin-A-Go-Go II (GC4AF43) right outside the camping area at Newport News Park. As geocachers arrived they would grab a brown bag that included the muffin flavor of their choice. My muffin bag simply included a muffin (it was delicious) but some also included special instructions that challenged the muffin holder to participate in some of the big event’s activities. I did not have the luxury of spending a lot of time at this event as I had to get over to the main area and assist with the setup of the Lab Caches that were going to be tested at this event.

Purple Shirt Club
Purple Shirt Club

Newport News Park is a park rich with history. Many Civil War battles took place in the park including the Battle of Big Bethel and the Battle or Burnt Chimneys. The organizers of the event set up the Lab Caches to take geocachers on a journey through the park while learning about its history. In addition to the Lab Caches, there was a plethora of activities from an Ammo Can Toss, a GeoSurvivor competition for teams of two and an egg hunt that tested a participants’ pure luck in choosing an egg that contained the coordinates for a cache that could possibly contain a prize. There were also a few works of art and pure craftsmanship that blew me away. The event’s photo wall and the handmade giant picnic basket event log simply cannot go without mention.

The community volunteer reviewers and I sat on a panel discussion in the afternoon which really started some great conversation about the game that continued on throughout the day with everyone I chatted with. I had so many great conversations and met so many amazing people it truly made the event memorable, but the real heroes in creating such an awesome event were the “purple shirts” that organized the event and ensured that everyone had a good time and felt like part of their geocaching family. I’m excited to go back next year.

Group Photo from the Mega-Event
Group Photo from the Mega-Event
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The Geocache Type that Cares – CITO

CITO cares blogExplore the joys of finding an old soda can or picking up faded, weather-worn newspapers. Sounds wonderful right? It’s a wonderful feeling if you’re tromping around with a group of geocachers who are helping clean up geocaching-friendly locations. It even has a name: Cache in Trash Out (CITO). It’s easy to earn a CITO Event smiley and put a smile on your face at the same time.

 
More than 12,000 adventurers in over a dozen countries took park in CITO weekend this past April. Together, they cleared 50 tons of trash around the world. That weekend gets much of the recognition, but CITO continues throughout the rest of the year. Check out CITO events near you or host your own.  Many geocachers simply practice the principle of Cache In Trash Out every time they geocache. Interested in seeing the other smiley you receive from a CITO Event?

 

Watch this Geocaching HQ video and see what the CITO smiles are all about in less than a minute.

 

 

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Projekt 2013: The Mega-Event that Fought the Rain and Won

A group of geocachers attending the Mega-Event with a well-traveled banner (Eric is the third from the right)
A group of geocachers attending the Mega-Event with a well-traveled banner (I’m third from the right, green coat, goofy smile)

The rains fell for three straight days. The rivers rose. Roads were overrun with flood waters. And yet, more than 1300 geocachers from throughout Europe (and one geocacher from Geocaching HQ in Seattle—me) chose this water-logged weekend to visit a small Austrian community.

If you’ve never heard of geocaching you might wonder why not stay home. The couch is dry, it’s warm, the TV works just fine. The series Game of Thrones is really heating up. However, if you’re a geocacher, you’re probably thinking, “well, what’s a little rain?”

The geocaching Mega-Event, Projekt 2013, delivered a geocacher’s dream line-up. Get this: more than 600 geocaches were published throughout the day of the Mega-Event. That’s more than 600 First-to-Finds hiding in fields, and even one scuba geocache waiting patiently at the bottom of a lake. The mandate for all the geocaches was one word: quality. Organizers spent months lining up the geocache hiders and mixing together just the right chemistry of events for people to enjoy, when not searching for the fresh geocaches.

Want to show off your Trackable before the Mega-Event at a CacheMobile Event? Yeah, there’s that. Itching to learn how to safely climb to find your next geocache? It’s on the agenda. How about a concert for hundreds to cap off the Mega-Event? Okay, you get the idea. But one more—how about hearing the latest news from Geocaching HQ and have a nice little question and answer? Yep, I led that discussion.

Ma Ma saves the day
Ma Ma saves the day

The organizational team from The Upper Austrian Geocaching Society planned it all. Before the event, the mayor of the Austrian community had never heard of geocaching. After 1000+ geocachers poured into his town, he’s now one of geocaching’s biggest fans. Especially after the Mega-Event when hundreds of geocachers cleaned up during (a rainy) CITO Event. But it’s the type of people who geocache who made the event. Take one of the organizers, for example.

His name is Mattias, or rightly known by his geocaching name as ma ma. The night before the event, he gets a call. A geocacher he didn’t know was stuck in the mud. Their car wouldn’t move. Five minutes later, we’re there and pulling the car free. And here’s a little detail you shouldn’t know:  it was his birthday. Whatever you do, do not go to his profile, send him a message and wish him a happy birthday. And whatever you do, do not click this link and wish him a happy birthday. (Okay, click the link.)

Signal poses with geocaching rock stars
Signal poses with geocaching rock stars

If you’ve never been geocaching in Austria, consider this Mega-Event an invitation. The FTF’s won’t last forever. If you’re from outside Austria here’s what you should know: there are more Multi-Caches and Puzzle Caches in Austria than Traditional geocaches. A city next door to the event, Wels, is known as The Riddle Castle because of all the Puzzle Caches. Get ready to crack some geocaching puzzles.  The Mayor of Wels would appreciate your visit, and if your car gets stuck, you know who to call.

Check out all the pictures below of the event. And tell us in comments, what’s you favorite part of a Mega-Event or what would be on your list?

 

 

Upper Austrian Geocaching Society thanking local geocaching community reviewer, Tafari.
Upper Austrian Geocaching Society thanking local geocaching community reviewer, Tafari. (They really do not glow in the dark)
The Log Wall could only be seen in black light
The Log Wall could only be seen in black light

project 2013 banner

"I love geocaching because... MEGA"
“I love geocaching because… MEGA”