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Geocaching.com Hamsters Go Big Time

Geocaching.com Hamsters

Rumor has it Geocaching.com internet servers are run by cute, hard-working, squeaky-voiced hamsters. Now you can have a Geocaching.com hamster of your own. Your hamster could either be a Trackable or commemorated on clothing. The hamsters just launched  their own products today. You know you’re kind of a big deal when you have your own merchandise line. But the humble hamsters weren’t always big time.

The hamsters toiled running Geocaching.com (Groundspeak) servers in obscurity for years. All that changed six months ago. Thousands of geocachers watched this first Geocaching.com hamster video as the site received a server upgrade in May. Instantly the hamsters were a hit.

Hamster Trackable Tag

Two lucky geocachers even adopted retired Geocaching.com hamsters used in the video. You can follow the adventures of one the hamsters in Germany on the blog, “Karlson the little hamster from Groundspeak.”

Now Shop Geocaching is introducing hamster themed merchandise. Customers outside the United States can ask their local Official Groundspeak Distributor for hamster merchandise. You can buy Trackable Groundspeak Hamster Tags.  You can also purchase hamster shirts.

Detail on Hamster Shirt

If you’re interested in watching the hamsters in their natural habitat, you can watch all three Geocaching.com hamster videos at the end of this blog post.

As far as what’s next for the Geocaching.com hamster, a lot of folks are asking. The answer may just rhyme with “bleacher tankth smoothie” (feature length movie) … or could that just be another rumor?

Hamster Shirt

 

 

 

GEOCACHING.COM HAMSTER VIDEOS

This is the first Geocaching.com Hamster video launched in May of this year. Geocachers discovered the history of the hamster rumor and learned more about the server upgrade.

 

Geocachers in Europe sent hamster food to Groundspeak Headquarters when the servers were slow during one week in the summer. We thought it was hilarious and wanted to thank them, including a cameo by Geocaching.com Co-Founder and CEO Jeremy Irish. This is the response video from Geocaching.com posted on German blogs. Ironically since the hamster food arrived the servers have been faster than ever. Hmmmm…  (Please do not send any more hamster food)

 

The video you see below is the “Down for Maintenance” hamster video which will appear when the site is briefly down for performance upgrades.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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7 Tips to Attending a Mega-Event

Editor’s note: Groundspeak Lackeys traveled thousands of miles from H.Q. this year to share smiles, shake hands and make geocaching memories at more than a dozen Mega-Events worldwide. Nicole Bliss, a.k.a. Louie Bliss, attended Mega-Event Catalunya 2011 in Calella, Spain. Nicole has been  a Lackey helping geocachers in customer service since 2010. This is Nicole’s account of the Mega-Event. 

Nicole and Signal

Oh Mega, My Mega! Catalunya 2011

I recently attended Mega-Event Catalunya 2011 in Calella, Spain and represented Groundspeak. It may have been my fifth Mega-Event, but it was my first international event.  I was surprised at how Mega-Events can be so similar 5,000 miles away from each other. There were still the same activities: discovering Trackables, shopping for merchandise, dinner events and, of course, lots of caching. I even attended my first flash mob – one of the best parts of the event! Yet, international events can be so different; everyone speaks different languages and cache descriptions are all in the local language. The difficulty rating goes up at least a star for foreigners. It helps that many geocaching phrases are universal.

With an international event, it was amazing how many countries were represented. I met cachers from Switzerland, Sweden, Norway, Germany, Czech Republic, Portugal, UK, Canada, France, Netherlands and Spain. I was the only American. I spent so much time with a group of French cachers that at one point, I felt like I was in France instead of Spain.

I learned a lot about what to plan for when attending a Mega-Event. If you haven’t had the opportunity yet, listen up! Here’s 7 tips for attending a Mega-Event –

Catalunya 2011 Flash Mob
  • Check to see if there are any additional events nearby. Plan to arrive a day or two beforehand to attend these events and find nearby caches.
  • Plan your routes ahead of time. If you are a Premium Member, you can sort by Favorite Points so you’ll know which are considered the best local caches. The event organizers may even publish a new GeoTrail for the event so it is a good idea to run a Pocket Query on the day of the event.
  • Check the event forums to see who else is going. It is much more fun when you meet new people or go in a group. I cached with a few different groups and had a great time.
  • Are you attending an international Mega-Event like I did? I suggest learning the major phrases of that language. It can still be overwhelming, but it is much easier and the locals appreciate it. I was surprised that Barcelona and Calella, Spain primarily spoke Catalan and my Spanish was almost useless.
  • Make time to see the tourist sites. There’s a Mega-Event there for a reason! Of course, you can cache along the way.
  • Considering organizing a Mega-Event? Check out the Knowledge Books article on Mega-Event Classification.

    Cataluyna 2011 Community Dinner
  • After the event, log your Trackables quickly! Too often, Travel Bugs have gone missing from events because they are forgotten.

In the end, I realized geocaching is a language all its own. No matter what our native language is, we can understand each other perfectly.

 

Upcoming Mega Events

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Geocaching Vlogs and Online Videos – The New Horizon of Caching Media Part II

[Editor’s Note: Make sure to obtain cache owner permission when featuring a specific cache and spoilers. Include a spoiler warning if a spoiler is absolutely necessary.]

Geocaching video blogs (vlogs), as well as YouTube-based video series, have become hugely popular in the geocaching community. The Geocaching.com YouTube channel receives thousands of viewers each day and the Geocaching.com videos have been viewed nearly three million times so far. Vlogs and other videos created by the community showcase the diversity, creativity and intelligence found in the geocaching world.

Vlogging has become an exciting way to share geocaching experiences. We now invite you to enjoy Part II of the “Geocaching Vlogs and Online Videos” blog post. This post introduces you to three popular English-language geocaching vlogs and their vloggers. Part I, which featured geocaching vlogs from around the world, can be found here.

Vlogger Joshua Johnson

Mayberryman, or Joshua Johnson, is an American geocaching vlogger out of Minnesota, USA. With more than 40,000 views on his site, Joshua is capturing the attention of geocachers and non-geocachers around the world. According to the vlogger, “the beauty of online video is that it is global, so I think it is fun for people to see geocaching in different places of the world.”

Joshua spends much of his free time recording his caching adventures and posting them on his vlog for all to see. He says his vlog has enabled him to “connect with cachers all over the world through this medium.  An example of this is a video collaboration video where a cacher named Captain Hardy from Norway shot a video of him sending the Travel Bug my way.”

Joshua says one of the goals of his is videos, “is to make the viewer feel like they are caching along with us.” Joshua also hopes to use his vlog to “share with the world the incredible hobby/sport that is geocaching… to introduce others to the hobby through the videos.”

Vlogger Headhardhat

Headhardhat, or Andrew Smith, another popular English language vlogger. Andrew has posted videos on YouTube for years. He has more than 60 videos online and has had more than 370,000 hits to his YouTube site. He sees his vlog as a “teaching tool to educate geocachers from all levels of expertise.” Andrew has found that creating a vlog has been beneficial to his personal geocaching experiences as well as the community’s.

He says, “I have heard everything from thanks for planting the seed to go out geocaching, to making things smoother for others as they ventured out, to saving several marriages and bringing families together.” Andrew’s vlog has connected him to people all over the world. According to the vlogger, these connections make geocaching “that much more fun because I get to share my experiences with others.”

Joshua and Andrew all showcase geocaching in the English language. They are among a more and more geocachers flipping on the video camera and sharing their adventures, tips and geocaching tricks online.

You can start sharing your experiences right now. Share your videos, pics and geocaching expertise (or geocaching questions) on the Geocaching.com Facebook page.

 

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Behind the Scenes with a Geocaching.com Volunteer Reviewer

 

Volunteer reviewers

(German translation – Deutsch Übersetzung)

Volunteer reviewers power Geocaching.com by reviewing and publishing each geocache. They. Work. Hard. As a geocacher you can now choose your own adventure from more than 1.2 million geocaches hidden around the world. Each geocache offers you a custom-made journey to explore your world, and each geocache has the fingerprints of  a volunteer reviewer on it.

The volunteer review team is made up of more than 200 reviewers, from Canada to Japan and the United Kingdom to South Africa. These men and women published more than a 250,000 geocaches last year alone.

Volunteer reviewers like Andy Kramer (stash-lab) review geocache listings submitted to Geocaching.com to promote the consistency and safety of the activity. Geocaching.com Volunteer Reviewers are first and foremost geocachers who were involved in their local geocaching communities long before becoming Volunteer Reviewers.

We interviewed stash-lab, a German Volunteer Reviewer, to find out what the experience is like for those who hit the “publish” button on geocaches.

stash-lab Volunteer Reviewer

Latitude 47: How did you learn about geocaching? When did you start the activity?

stash-lab: I was looking for a GPS device for car navigation. While browsing I found the Geocaching.com website. When I was a child I loved games like “Fox hunts” or “Hare and Hounds” [Paper Chase] with team tasks. When I realized what Geocaching is I was very excited and I knew that I found my new hobby! This was in September of 2004 but I needed some time until I got my GPS device and found my first geocache.

Latitude 47: When did you become a Reviewer?

stash-lab: I was asked in 2007 to become a reviewer. The truth of the matter is that I didn’t exactly know what to do as a reviewer and so I had to think a few days about this offer. But at last I felt it was time to support the game in an additional way. It was a good decision! :-)

Latitude 47: When people ask, how do you explain the role of a Volunteer Reviewer?

stash-lab: There are many different ideas in the community about the role of a reviewer. But I only can explain my understanding of this role. Besides publishing caches there are three important things to do: understand the requests of cache owners, offer solutions, and be kind and helpful to the cache owners.

Latitude 47: What do you hope people know about Volunteer Reviewers?

stash-lab: Reviewers are humans, reviewers are individuals, reviewers are not infallible. The majority of geocachers are very respectful to volunteers. Thanks for that!

Latitude 47: Did you ever encounter anything funny or unexpected in your role as a Reviewer?

stash-lab: Yes, of course. I’d like to tell you two points. First: Sometimes there are reviewer notes like: “Please let me know when you will come to check the cache container. I’ll try to be there, too.” I like to travel a lot but unfortunately it’s not possible for me to visit every cache before I publish it.
And second: When I was visiting the GeoWoodstock VIII last year I met so many reviewer colleagues and it was like being welcomed at a big family event. That was really awesome.

Latitude 47: What advice do you have for geocachers who submit caches for review?

stash-lab: Use the reviewer notes to submit relevant pieces of information. They help us to review the listing in a more timely manner. I like caches where the cache owners implement new ideas. So it is helpful for a reviewer to have some explanations about the concept. We don’t need to know the solutions for puzzle caches but it’s good to know, for example, that there is a way to get coordinates.

Latitude 47: Anything else you would like to add?

stash-lab: Geocaching has became a very important part in so many peoples lives. It is impressive how dynamically it has grown over just the last two years, especially in Germany. But geocaching is a very young activity and sometimes I think about what geocaching will be like in 5 or 10 years. I don’t know what kind of technology the future will bring. I am sure that the fun of playing this game will always remain because geocaching satisfies three important human needs: nature, playing and social relations. That’s great and I’m proud to be a part of that game.

Additional Links:

Cache Listing Requirements

Review Process: Hiding a Geocache

Cache Ownership: A Long-Term Relationship

See the Geocaching.com video about the Basics of Hiding a Geocache. Feeling inspired? See a video that reveals some of the secrets of Creative Geocaches.