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5 Ways to Mentor A New Geocacher

So you’ve been geocaching for 6 months now… or is it 6 years? Whatever the number, there comes a time in your life when you stop saying, “I go geocaching” and start saying, “I’m a geocacher.”

At this point you’ve probably found quite a number of geocaches, and hidden a few as well. You’ve dipped your toes into different cache types, and you’ve played around with logging trackables. You’ve grown from a wee geo-acorn into a strong geo-oak tree.

Capitalize on your experience by mentoring newbie geocachers you encounter along the way. These 5 tips should help you get started.

1. Be kind, rewind, then pay it forward

So someone just logged “Found It!” on a geocache but in their log they wrote, “We searched everywhere but couldn’t find it today.” Did this person just log a find they didn’t actually earn? Yes. Did they commit a cardinal sin? No. Take a moment, give a newbie the benefit of the doubt, and kindly remind them that to log a find, they have to find the log! Remember your interaction with this person may be the first contact they’ve ever had with another geocacher. Be kind and pay it forward.

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2. Teach them the ways of the log

Are newbies always writing short logs (TFTC) on your geocaches, and you want more, more, more? Send them this friendly link to motivate them to channel their inner William Shakespeare: 5 Tips for Writing the Best Log in the World

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3. Give a lesson in trackable etiquette

If you own a geocache that’s big enough for trackables, include a friendly note about trackable etiquette. And better yet, include a description of what trackables are and how to log them! New geocachers are often confused about the difference between trackables and swag, and what better place to have information about this than in the geocache itself.

This group of kiddos are super excited to find the cache... and its swag.

4. Be the hostess with the mostest

Whether you’re hosting or attending an event, make sure new geocachers are welcome, included in conversation, and comfortable. As a host, you can make a new geocacher’s life easier by putting up a “We’re Geocachers!” sign at your table so they know where to find you. As an attendee, take ownership over making the new cacher feel comfortable, especially if you’re lucky enough to live in a tight-knit geocaching community.

20993254696_30e681199c_b5. There are no stupid questions – and newbies have TONS of questions

“What does ‘TFTC’ mean? What’s a ‘Jasmer‘? What are those question mark geocaches in the middle of the lake?” We all know the jargon like the back of our hand, but all this geo-speak can be overwhelming to a new geocacher. Be a Jedi to padawans and teach them to use the force. The way our community grows positively is by educating those who actually want to learn. And don’t forget to tell them about our forums, Help Center, and the online geocaching glossary.

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Walk the (Geocaching) Line

Unless you live on the moon, you’ve probably gone geocaching in some sort of natural area—food garden, arboretum, provincial park, nature reserve, etc. Most areas have designated walking or hiking paths, but it can be sorely tempting to march straight off into the bush looking like Kipling’s Mowgli.

Here are three reasons not to release your inner Tarzan unless you’re in your own jungle oasis (or…potted plant patio).

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1) You are a big, strong human, and you will crush the plants.

Are you in the new King Kong remake? If not, then there’s no reason to blunder around crushing things. Your wanderings off the path are likely to leave a trail, one that another geocacher might follow thinking it leads to a cache. By the time the next person finds out your trail doesn’t lead anywhere, they’ve made it look even more like a trail that leads somewhere. You see where this is going. Big strong human, please keep all arms and feet inside the designated trails…

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2) Stingy, bite-y, slimy things.

What’s red and green and stings all over? Poison oak, poison ivy, and stinging nettles. And they can really ruin a geocaching party. Keeping to the designated paths (and wearing your cargo pants) is key to avoiding these antagonists of the plant world. Nettles, like human children, are best seen and not heard disturbed.

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3) Every step you take…the land manager is watching you.

Alright, so that may be unnecessarily creepy. But it’s the land manager’s job to make sure activities like geocaching are done in harmony with the environmental goals of the area. It’s the geocacher’s job to know what that means for geocaching. It’s true that geocaching in public natural areas is a privilege, not a right. Is this patch of hillside closed-off to protect sensitive species? Don’t go there human! No find is worth being kicked out of a park.

 

Tell us (and share some pics)…what’s your favorite natural area in which to geocaching?

 

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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. 

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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 –

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  • 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.

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  • 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.

 

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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.