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When Fools Rush In

Article by Reid Kuennen

Imagine this: It’s January in Seattle. It’s a dark, rainy Monday and you roll into work at Geocaching HQ. On your desk is a mysterious letter, addressed to you:

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Intrigued, you neglect your first sip of coffee to immediately inquire about the contents within. You discover a simple note:

You are receiving this message because we think you are funny. As in, a good joke maker.

It is January. Which means April 1st is basically tomorrow. This is a big deal as Geocaching HQ has come to be known around the globe for its April Fools shenanigans. From geocaching workouts, to T.I.N.Y. caches, to being DNFing awesome – we’ve made an impact on our Gross National Hilarious (GNH).

This is where you come in. We need you to help make this year’s Geocaching April Fools joke even more epic than the rest. If you choose to accept, you will send us an email that says something like, “Duh,” or “I laugh in the face of laughs,” etc. Then, you will patiently await further instructions.

And this is how April Fools begins at Geocaching HQ.

A few weeks later, the 10-15 envelope-receiving comedians have a meeting to get down to some serious funny business. Each person is tasked to prepare two pitches for an April Fools story that will:

  1. Delight the geocaching community
  2. Be informative and/or drive the game forward
  3. Be funny

Sometimes being funny is hard… and vulnerable, so we start the meeting off with setting a safe and playful tone by playing improv games.*

Next, everyone takes turns confidently pitching their ideas as if they are the best April Fools jokes the world has ever seen. Let’s just say the 2016 pitches were… varied:

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Here is a photo-op I couldn’t resist during someone’s pitch.

We narrowed down the stories to pick the most funny yet feasible theme. And #spoilernotspoiler alert, we went with Galaxy Search, caching in the new frontier. You can learn more about how it all played out here.

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Serendipitously, we were able to tie-in this award-winning piece from the 2013 Geocaching International Film Festival:

And speaking of GIFF…

The 4th annual Geocaching International Film Festival is on. This means now you have the opportunity tell your own geocaching story that could be seen by the worldwide geocaching community. And if we’ve learned anything from our annual April Fools process, it is that geocaching is ripe with story. It is full of funny, heartfelt, adventurous, and inspiring moments that are waiting to be captured.

And thus, I leave you with my humble advice:

  1. Invite your friends over
  2. Provide snacks
  3. Warm up with some fun games*
  4. Pitch some geocaching Story Worthy Moments

You never know what you might come up with.

 

*Categories
Here is the improv game we played this year:

Person A gives Person B a category, such as ‘Types of Trees.” As quick as Person B can, they have to name five types of trees—the weirder and less accurate the better. (In fact, someone actually said, “Canadian trees.”) Each time they name a new item, the rest of the group counts them out in a congratulatory manner, “One!” “Two!” etc. up to “FIVE!!!” Once they’ve listed all five, Person B gives a new category to someone else and hilarity continues to ensue.

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Kittiwake — Geocache of the Week

Traditional
GC4BAC0
by Hindl.com
Difficulty: 
4
Terrain: 
5
Location: 
Cayman Islands
N 19° 21.716 W 081° 24.060

Geocache “Kittiwake” is a Terrain 5 geocache, which means special equipment is required to reach it. In this case, that special equipment is a Self Contained Underwater Breathing Apparatus, AKA, scuba gear.

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Some trackables and a geocoin on a watery visit

The cache can be found 40 feet below the water’s surface in the Cayman Islands. For most people that means getting SCUBA-certified and doing a dive (though, as the cache owner points out, some people choose to free-dive). As is common in geocaching, the logbook isn’t the only prize to be found at the cache site. Between the cache and the seabed, slowly becoming an artificial reef, is the cache’s namesake: the USS Kittiwake, Chanticleer Class Submarine Rescue Ship. Learn more about the Kittiwake on the geocache page.

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The CO is Hindl.com, who’s been a technical SCUBA instructor for a decade, regularly leads tourists on dives to the Kittiwake, and thought geocaching would make an extra special addition to an already exciting exploration for many people. But he’s been careful about his choice of underwater cache locations: “I would not allow myself to put any geocaches on the historical sites or pristine reefs, but I felt like it was ok at the artificial (man made) wrecks.” Which the Kittiwake is.

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Photo by dfx

Hindl.com spoke to us about SCUBA, pen-swallowing seas, decompression, and Buzz Aldrin.

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Photo by Ondrej Hindl

Are you a regular diver?
I am a technical instructor teaching from Trimix to CCRs (closed circuit rebreathers) and my favorites are wrecks and caves. I have done many dives on this wreck, which is an amazing deco stop (series of mandatory decompression stops before being able to ascend any shallower) after a deep technical dive on the wall. My first dive here was in the summer of 2012.

How often do you have to maintain the cache? What does that normally entail?
Given the limited time most visitors have at this GC, there is not much maintenance needed. However the ocean seems to be eating pens, they need to be replaced more often than in other land based caches. It usually takes just a quick stop on a regular dive. It can be done free-diving too, but not everyone can free-dive that deep, for that long.

"Fish In Mirro" by Hindl.com
“Fish In Mirror” by Ondrej Hindl

What has been your response to all of the great comments on your cache?
I can not describe how happy it makes me that people like this cache and mark it as their favorite. Not only because of the geocache, but I also see behind each of these geocachers, comments or logs a diver, snorkeler, free-diver but mainly an sea/ocean lover and someone who wants to protect the creatures we still have left in the seas.

 

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Photo by Ondrej Hindl

What was your most memorable dive at this site?
I was lucky enough to guide Col. Buzz Aldrin (Apollo 11) on few dives during my diving career and the best one was through the Kittiwake wreck. He spent most of the dive “walking” upside down through the wreck, later claiming it is the closest he can get to walking on the moon again.

 

Do you have anything you’d like to share with the geocaching community in general?
Thank you to all who keep this great project going. Keep it up 😉

 

 

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Photo by dfx

 

 

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.

 

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And the March 2016 Geocachers of the Month Are…

Carina & Lasse!

Swedish geocachers Carina & Lasse have found more than 8,500 caches together, but the really impressive number for this team is 4,838. That’s the total number of favorite points on the geocaches they own.

Their prowess as geocache hiders and their positive influence in the Swedish geocaching community is the reason Carina & Lasse are the March 2016 Geocachers of the Month.

Congratulations Carina & Lasse!

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Carina and Lasse having a snack.

Carina & Lasse picked up geocaching as a hobby in 2011. They were already avid explorers, and thought that geocaching would be a fun addition to their outdoor experiences. “At first we tried to navigate using our car GPS. We switched to a handheld GPS almost immediately when we realized we really enjoyed and wanted to focus on geocaching.”

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Carina, making her way through the bush.

For them, the appeal of the game came from the many secret places they discovered through geocaching, which they wouldn’t have otherwise found. And it’s usually just the two of them searching for caches on their own — “Group logging isn’t for us,” says Carina.

Pretty soon they began hiding their own geocaches, which have garnered much praise from geocachers local and from afar. Their hides are typically cleverly hidden and are complete surprises to those who find them (there are no spoiler images to be found in the cache galleries!).

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Lasse goes after GC22JED.

Thanks to this geocaching team, anyone passing through or near Skåne, Sweden has at least 150 amazing geocaches to find.

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Lasse making a reach…
Carina signing a log.
Carina signing a log.
800 finds!
8000 finds!

 

If you know an outstanding geocacher who should be considered for the honor, simply fill out this webform. You’ll need to include the following information:

  • Your name, the name of your nominee, their username
  • Description (200 or more words) explaining why he or she deserves to be the Featured Geocacher of the Month. These descriptions can be written in any language.

Please inform your nominee that you have submitted them for the award.

Tom and one of Geocaching's little buddies - Stumpy

Geocaching Employee Spotlight: Tom, Veep of Marketing & Merch

This is part of a series of blog posts shining a spotlight on the people of Geocaching HQ. We hope to show you the “geo-who” behind the “geo-what”. :-)

What is your name?
Tom Phillips

Tom skiing
Tom skiing

Yeah, but what’s your Username?
VIATRU

How did you come up with your username?
When I first moved to Seattle back in 2000, I worked on a wonderful start up business called World2market. We used the internet to create a global marketplace for third world artisans. It was an amazing project and along the way we considered other company names. One was VIATRU.

What is your job title?
I am the VP of Marketing and Merchandise here at Geocaching HQ

Tom and one of Geocaching's little buddies - Stumpy
Tom and one of Geocaching’s little buddies – Stumpy

What does your job title actually mean? In other words, how do you explain what you do to someone that has no idea what you do?
I am very privileged to have the opportunity to serve the geocaching community in two ways. 1) I work with our merchandise team to make sure geocachers around the world can find the physical products they need to create, share and enjoy the game of geocaching. 2) I work with our marketing team to make sure the geocaching community stays connected and informed with what’s going on both here at HQ and around the world.

Tom (upper right) with come of the Geocaching HQ crew on a team outing
Tom (upper right) with come of the Geocaching HQ crew on a team outing

Tell us about your geocaching style (exotic locations / quality over quantity)?
I am definitely an explorer when it comes to Geocaching. I love geocaches that take me somewhere new or challenge me with a new experience. Geocaching has taken me into caves, up trees and into the woods in the middle of the night. I love this stuff!!

What’s something that surprises you about geocaching – whether it’s the game itself, working at headquarters, or anything else?
From the day I was first introduced to geocaching back in 2004, I have been both inspired and amazed by the enthusiasm, support, creativity and endless imagination of geocachers around the world.

Treasure Trackers
Treasure Trackers

What’s the best piece of geocaching advice or information you ever learned?
Three simple words, “Let’s go Geocaching”. I said yes and 12 years later I’m still having a blast!!!

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3-D House — Geocache of the Week

Traditional
GC5BEED
by Lisje2000
Difficulty: 
4.5
Terrain: 
1
Location: 
Gelderland, Netherlands
N 51° 49.105 E 005° 48.293

Not many Cache Owners can say they made their cache using a printer. Of those, even fewer can say they built the printer themselves. Geocacher Lisje2000 did both.

3-D printing was solidified as a hobby for Lisje2000 when they built their own 3-D printer in March 2014. You heard right—they built their own 3-D printer.

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Lucky geocachers may get a private viewing of the 3-D printer when the cache owners are home.

Much of the geocache itself is made of wood, but many of the parts were printed. A number of the objects found inside the cache were also 3-D printed.

The cache is disguised as a birdhouse displaying the CO's street number.
The cache is disguised as a birdhouse displaying the CO’s street number.

Making the cache using the 3-D printer wasn’t an easy job. The CO’s estimate it took at least 132 hours to print all the parts that are currently in the cache…not to mention all the failed attempts at making other parts. The roof of the birdhouse alone took at least 40 hours.

Inside the cache are various 3-D printed artifacts, some of which one might conceivably find in a regular living room: lamps, bookshelves with busts, even a tiny laptop.

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Can you spot the geocaching logos?

Opening the cache requires some clever thinking and attention to detail, hence the Difficulty rating—but be careful! Some of the pieces are delicate, and nothing should be forced in order to retrieve the logbook.

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A peek into the attic window reveals the guardians of the logbook.
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An intrepid you geocacher makes the find.

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.