Guest blog written by Mark Webb, aka Troopbiz
My name is Mark Webb. I’m fourteen years old, live in West Virginia, USA, geocache as Troopbiz, and have over 1,800 finds. I love geocaching because I get to explore new places around my hometown that I’ve never been to and it allows me to get outside and explore nature.
Getting Into Geocaching
I first started geocaching on July 1, 2009 at the age of 8. My Mom came across a link to Geocaching.com while looking at the local parks and recreation site, and it snowballed from there. I found my first geocache, Black and Gold (GCRET0) two days later. I was hooked. What started out as a family activity to get outside and explore new areas, turned into a new loved obsession. Within that first year, I found over 100 and was eager to find 100 more. Three years later, I found my 1,000th geocache, Gadgets at Deckers Creek. (GC1M90Y).
Shortly thereafter, I joined the Boy Scouts and quickly earned the Geocaching merit badge. I have educated many Boy Scout troops as well as a 4-H club in my community about geocaching by going caching with them around a local park.
Quality Over Quantity
Although it can be fun to get wrapped up in the numbers, what really matters in the find behind the numbers. What makes geocaching fun is when someone puts a lot of thought and planning into a geocache.
Therefore, I like to do the same with my hides. My first geocache, Up, Down, & Up Again! (GC29NWE) currently has 242 finds and 51 favorite points. I hid a cache called Brick By Brick (GC5JB1H) made completely out of LEGOs. I also have a Puzzle Cache called Cars Cache (GC5AK6Y) based off the movie Cars. I enjoy Puzzle Caches the most because they offer an initial thrill of solving the puzzle, then another after you find the cache. I have also made friends with several other creative geocache hiders in my area such as arealwhit and killlerbee, and we go caching together on a regular basis.
It’s Not Always Easy Being Young
Being a young geocacher does have its advantages, like thinking differently when looking for a cache or climbing a hill with ease. But there are several disadvantages. The hardest thing about being a young geocacher is not having my driver’s license yet. My family and friends assist me on most of my caching adventures. It takes a lot of planning (and convincing), but they usually let me grab “just one more” cache.
It is also very difficult to complete challenges like the Fizzy Grid or the 365/Every Day Challenge with family members who don’t have the same drive as me. Another disadvantage of being a young geocacher is not understanding older references. Many Puzzle Caches in my area revolve around older movies, tv shows, and songs. Although I don’t always understand what references a geocache is making, Google usually does!
The Future of Geocaching
I’m excited to see what the future of geocaching has in store for 2016. One huge accomplishment I would like to achieve is making my 2,000th find. I would also like to continue working on my Fizzy and Every Day grids. Although I don’t think I will complete them any time soon, every block filled is another step closer.
I’m also looking forward to events in 2016, such as attending my 5th Midwest Geobash. In general, I would like to see more teens get into geocaching as it is a good way to get away from reality and explore new areas in your hometown. I can’t wait to see what the new year holds and what geocaching adventures await!
We love meeting members of the geocaching community that inspire us. Have you ever geocached with someone from a different generation, and learned a thing or two? If you’re a younger geocacher, what tricks of the trade have you learned from more “mature” geocachers? Tell us in the comments below!
The environment wins big when geocachers attend Cache In Trash Out (CITO) events. But now a group of Texas, USA geocachers are winning for their cleanup efforts.
Travis Gilbert (SKnight579) organized the Permian Basin Cachers Association CITO Events. Travis says, “We are a smaller group of cachers (around about 30) in the middle of nowhere out in West Texas.”
“A smaller group” with a big agenda to pick up trash. They’ve adopted two sites and pledged to clear trash from those areas on a regular basis. One site is a stretch of four lane highway and another is a location in a nearby city. The group has held CITO events at these locations over the past couple years. Travis says, “We are under contract to clean the road two times a year, we do it four times a year, and we also separate out recyclables as we go for a small bit of money for the group (covers the water basically).”
Travis says the extra effort was noticed. His email inbox had a surprise waiting for him a couple weeks ago, “I received an email from the State of Texas that our little group would also be getting the “Group of the Year” award for the State! I’m really proud of our group.” Gilbert says they also won another award from the City of Midland, Texas for the Permian Basin Geocachers cleanup efforts there.
He says the group is inspiring other local geocachers to help make a difference. “I know of several other groups of cachers in Texas that have adopted roads and spots after seeing what our group has done and I could not be prouder of our group.”
Bagging trash and picking up recyclables has an occasional reward.
Travis says, “The best find was our last cleanup in April when we found 20 proof sets of coins scattered over half of our adopted area. We called the police and no one had reported them missing and I spoke about it on the news that night and no one tried to contact me, so win win. There were 10 of us cleaning that trip so we raffled them and each took two sets home.”
Now they’re also taking home trophies. Travis did what any geocacher would do with the awards. He says “I’ve also made both awards Trackable.” Check out the Trackable pages here and here. Three geocachers, besides Travis, attended all the CITO events. They include grumpyoldtexan, DeKoning, and ZSandmann.
Since 2002, geocachers around the world have been dedicated to improving parks and other cache-friendly places. There are dozens of CITO events around the world each month. Check out the CITO Events Calendar to find at CITO near you.
The CITO season is thick upon us. This past weekend, several Lackeys joined dozens of other geocachers at two CITO events near Groundspeak HQ.
Rain fell heavily as we drove towards the location and when we got there, no one else was in the designated meeting point. Oh no! Did everyone else cancel because of the weather?
Not at all. It was simply the fact that we had arrived an hour early and no one was there yet. This was a perfect opportunity to go find a nearby geocache where we enjoyed views of Puget Sound and listened to the barking of the nearby sea lions.
At the actual start time, gloves and yellow CITO garbage bags were distributed to the many people who braved our typically-wet weather. What at first looked like a very clean little park proved to be a park that really needed our help.
We collected a spare tire, various chunks of discarded metal, fluorescent light tubes, some bad beer that teenagers had saved for a later party, and a car seat . There were plenty of the usual discarded cans and bottles. The highlight of the day was a huge and heavy piece of bulky chain link that was actually still attached to something buried deeply in the sand. I pulled on it and it would not budge. Several more-muscled geocachers came to my aid. We joked that perhaps we ought not to yank it out in case it is the drain plug that keeps the water in Puget Sound. The team eventually managed to “encourage” a weak link to break off and we trashed that very large eyesore off the beach. The sea lions playing nearby looked at us approvingly.
We hauled the litter that we found all the way down the beach, up a steep staircase that crossed the railroad tracks, and through the park to the litter collection point. A job well done!
Meanwhile, a few miles away, other Lackeys joined nearly 30 other geocachers at the Bellevue Parks Arbor Day CITO.
They planted evergreen trees that towered six or more feet tall. While this was part of a larger tree-planting, there was a portion of this event that was specifically organized by geocachers and for geocachers. It was a great way to give back to Washington, also known as the Evergreen State. Another job well done!
More events like these are coming up all over the world. Please check the CITO calendar to find one near you.
Tell us about your CITO event. What was the most unique piece of garbage you threw away?
Mt. Fuji, outside of Toyko Japan, reaches 3,776 m (12,388 ft.) into the sky, but is still not immune from the trash found at lower elevations. Geocacher atstgm helped organize an ascent of Mt. Fuji to complete a grueling Cache In Trash Out (CITO) tour.
Armed with garbage bags more than a dozen geocachers started hiking up the tallest mountain in Japan at 11:00am on September 3rd.
They stayed over night at a staging area, then began hiking again in the predawn darkness at 1:30am on the 4th.
The group reached the summit of Mt. Fuji around 5am and began the CITO event by picking up bags full of trash. They also searched for the five geocaches along the route and at the summit. Watch this raw video of the ambition climb.
Check out the events calender to see if there’s a CITO event near you.