Groundspeak Weekly Newsletter – January 12, 2011

EarthCaching is a great way to combine science education and Geocaching.

EarthCaches are locations that people can visit to learn about a unique geoscience feature or aspect of our Earth. Visitors to EarthCaches can see how our planet has been shaped by geological processes, how we manage resources and how scientists gather evidence to learn about the Earth.

This week marks the 7th anniversary of the first EarthCache: “Earthcache I – a simple geology tour of Wasp Head” (GCHFT2) in New South Wales, Australia by geoaware. The listing went live on January 10th, 2004 and 96 people have since logged a smiley.

If you are considering submitting an EarthCache for review, please read the updated EarthCache listing guidelines. The wording of the guidelines has been clarified and the guideline about logging requirements has been separated into two guidelines: one about logging tasks, one about logging photographs.

Important points about the EarthCache guidelines:

• Any requests for photos are considered optional.

• Logging requirements should be centered on the Earth Science at the location.

• You will need to provide the reviewer some information about permission or your EarthCache publication will be delayed.

• If your EarthCache is not quite publishable, you and the reviewer will work together to ensure that it meets the guidelines.

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“Camels Prairie Stash” GC25 GEOCACHE OF THE WEEK – January 9, 2011

Silhouettes at "Camels Prairie Stash"
Silhouettes at "Camels Prairie Stash"

“Camels Prairie Stash” (GC25) in the Western U.S. state of Idaho has two major distinctions.

First, it’s the oldest cache in the state, placed by Mount10Bike on June 17, 2000.

Second, this traditional cache has also received the most Favorite Points in the state of Idaho.

Geocaching Favorites is a new feature on Geocaching.com providing a simple way to track and share the caches that you enjoyed the most.

Nearly a hundred geocachers have logged a smiley on The Camels Prairie Stash geocache. The difficulty two, terrain three geocache is hidden above Priest Lake in Northern Idaho.

Near GC25

One geocacher wrote, “Wow………….what an adventure! Taking one wrong turn can sure get you way off course fast, ha! Priest Lake has always been one of [my] most favorite areas to be at, a bit of heaven on earth.”

Continue your exploration with some of the most engaging geocaches from around the world. Explore all the Geocaches of the Week on our blog or view the Bookmark List on Geocaching.com.

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Go Geocaching and Don’t Forget Your Sheep

Here’s a little geocaching scenario for you. You’re about to embark on your next geocaching adventure. Your mind starts racing through the all-too-familiar checklist: GPS (check), pen (check), extra batteries (check)… wait, you’re forgetting something. What could it be? Extra batteries? Nope. You almost forgot to bring your stuffed-animal sheep. Whew, that was a close call.

That’s the actual geocaching checklist for Ontario’s Cheryl Shaw and her husband Dave Devine. They call themselves “Team Sheep.”

Cheryl and Dave (minus sheep)

Cheryl and Dave started geocaching just over a year ago. Almost all of their 401 finds share something in common— a picture of their stuffed animal sheep with the cache. Cheryl says, “I now own more pictures of that sheep than I do of my family.”

The whole practice of posing a stuffed animal by a cache began innocently enough.

Cheryl says, “It all started with some travel coin I picked up. They wanted a picture with the coin and me. But somehow I didn’t feel like being photographed that day. So I looked around my house for something cutesy to photograph with the coin and found ‘sheep’ sitting on my sewing table. ‘Good enough,’ I thought, and out the door I went to go caching. Since then, I have photographed the sheep at every cache we have found.”

Sheep proposes

The sheep, and his wardrobe, evolved. He now has several outfits, everything from a karate uniform, fatigues and a hockey jersey to seasonal outfits for Easter, Halloween and Christmas. He even has a tux.

Cheryl says that the sheep recently got serious about a relationship: “Last week he even proposed to a fellow cacher ring and all!”

The other cacher had just gotten engaged. Cheryl says the sheep has developed his own personality. The log that accompanies the proposal picture reads: “We told the geo sheep about how Lisa got engaged and he was a little heartbroken, ‘Tell her that if things don’t work out with that nano guy I’m available!’ he said.’Sure thing’ we said, ‘You were definitely her second choice.'”

“It certainly adds to the fun to geocache with an avatar,” Cheryl says. “Cache owners have appreciated the sheep pictures. When people contact me they act like sheep is real, such as ‘say hi to sheep for me, or sheep looked very handsome today or sorry I missed meeting the sheep.'” She has even received fan mail for sheep.

Even if you never see sheep on your geocaching rounds, Cheryl hopes the idea travels. “I would thoroughly recommend that other cachers use an avatar. It’s fun. It’s more than just signing a log and running away. We try very hard to pose the sheep and take several pictures, choosing the best one for the web page.”

She says that there are other benefits to using an avatar as well.  “We tend to remember all our caches better, and best of all sheep always has some smart remark or stupid joke about the cache. (He can get away with saying things I can’t.)”

With more than 400 cache logs in one year, there’s no telling where sheep may show up next. If you’re in the Ottawa, Ontario area, you can now visit Cheryl’s first “sheep-themed” cache, “The Sheeps’ Revenge” (GC25CMF).

Would you ever consider using an avatar? What sort of avatar would you use?

Groundspeak Weekly Newsletter – January 5, 2011

Happy New Year!

2010 was an exciting year for geocaching! On March 8, we hit a huge milestone – over one million active geocaches listed on Geocaching.com. In the 10 months since, more than 260,000 geocaches have been added to the site.

Last year also marked the 10th anniversary of geocaching and the 10th anniversary of Groundspeak. We celebrated these milestones with Groundspeak’s Lost & Found. The celebration launched the weekend of April 20-May 3 – the 10th anniversary of the first cache placement. Geocachers honored the occasion by hosting 10 Years! events around the world.

As part of Lost & Found, we also wanted to discover some of the “lost” stories of geocaching. Our film crew traveled to capture the 33 amazing geocaching stories featured in the Lost & Found video series. Geocachers also submitted their stories on Geocaching.com.

And since Geowoodstock was in our own backyard, Groundspeak hosted the Lost & Found Celebration just outside Groundspeak HQ. We had such a great time meeting thousands of you that we’re going to do it again in 2011 at the Groundspeak Block Party.

We hit another milestone on 10-10-10, when the geocaching community broke a record. 78,313 separate Geocaching.com accounts logged a cache in a 24-hour period, blasting through the previous record of 56,654 accounts.

So, what’s in store for 2011? We plan on continuing to add great features and functionality. Our goals for this year include improving the quality of the game and taking geocaching “beyond the box.” We’re looking forward to what we can accomplish over the next 12 months with your assistance. If you have an idea that might make geocaching even better in 2011, please post it here.

Thank you for a wonderful 2010 and cheers to happy and healthy geocaching in 2011!

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Geocaching.com Caption Contest 19 – Win a Barely Coveted Prize

WINNING CAPTION: “Muggles are coming! Quick! Act ‘natural!”‘ – apolloman25

Try your caption writing skills in the nineteenth installment of our Geocaching.com Caption Contest.   You could become the proud winner of a barely coveted prize! What caption would you write? “I think the muggles might be onto you.” You can do better!

Barely coveted prize

Submit your caption by clicking on “Comments” below. Please include your geocaching username in all entries. Then, explore the captions that other geocachers crafted.

You can influence the voting.  “Like” the caption that you think should win.  If you think your caption should win, convince your fellow geocachers to “like” your caption.  Lackeys decide between the top captions to crown the winner of this Geocaching.com Caption Contest.

Click on the photo to see the winner of this caption contest
The winner receives a barely coveted prize from Groundspeak Headquarters — the temporary 10 Years! tattoos pictured at left.

14 Lackeys voted to award the winner of the eighteenth Geocaching.com Caption Contest a barely coveted prize. Click on the image at right to discover the winning caption from the previous Geocaching.com Caption Contest. Apparently Lackeys have a soft spot for Monty Python movie references.

Explore the wit and wisdom of geocachers by checking out all the Geocaching Caption Contests.