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Love Love Braga: Um Mega-Evento cheio de Amor, Comunidade, e Geocaching

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High-Five!

“All you need is love,” The Beatles

100espinhos, uma pequena mas dedicada equipa de geocaching de Portugal, teve uma importante revelação em 2014: o mundo precisa de mais amor e o geocaching é a única maneira de ajudar a espalhá-lo. Nos últimos anos, esta equipa tem abraçado o movimento de alma e coração, organizando três eventos com mais de 500 geocachers – todos cheios de “Love Love”.

“Nós organizamos estes Megas porque amamos o geocaching e acredito que o jogo traz imensa alegria para a vida das pessoas”, disse Tiago, um dos 100espinhos. “Não há nada mais poderoso do que amizades, sorrisos e amor.”

E funcionou. Através dos seus eventos, eles criaram uma comunidade inspiradora de geocachers, todos dedicados ao jogo e à iniciativa do amor.

100Espinhos Team
100Espinhos Team

Em agosto, eu tive a sorte de viver a mais recente edição da série Mega Love Love, GC60WBP. O evento em que participei foi realizado na bela Braga, uma cidade histórica e digna de postais, no norte de Portugal. Foi uma longa viagem de Seattle a Braga, mas depois de dois vôos de seis horas e uma viagem de comboio de três horas, eu chegava ao que eu considerei o paraíso do geocaching. O evento seria de quatro dias com atividades geocaching, Signal The Frog, Lab caches, mini-excursões por toda a cidade, e uma abundância de momentos em comunidade cheios de amor. Eu senti-me com doze anos de novo, fora de casa para o meu acampamento de verão favorito… não sabia o que esperar, mas estava incrivelmente feliz por lá estar.

Love Love Braga
Love Love Braga

Seja o que for que o teu geocoração tenha desejado ao longo dos quatro dias, o Love Love disponibilizou. O espaço principal do evento foi num grande auditório, onde workshops diários, intercâmbio de trackables, competições de recipientes criativos, lojas de fornecedores, e aulas de dança tiveram lugar. Houve uma iniciativa CITO em curso durante o evento onde as tampas dos frascos utilizados eram recolhidas (tampinhas) – todas as tampinhas angariadas tiveram o objetivo de contribuir para a compra de uma cadeira de rodas para uma menina que luta contra uma doença rara. Além do espaço principal, houve eventos paralelos planeados todos os dias por toda a cidade onde se podia conhecer as principais atrações da cidade, enquanto se fazia geocaching. Se não te sentisses como disposição para participar numa dessas excursões, podias relaxar na piscina ou visitar um museu de todos os que existiam nas proximidades, tudo grátis. Foi tudo muito bem organizado e disponibilizado, tudo o que eu tinha a fazer era abraçar o amor e aproveitar o momento!

Carly, Signal, and Tiago
Carly, Signal, and Tiago

Cada dia era um deleite, mas as alturas das refeições foram as minhas favoritas. Eu realmente gostei do tempo que passei a relaxar, a tomar vinho verde, e a conversar com os diferentes grupos de geocachers, enquanto degustava a cozinha local. As suas histórias de geocaching e dedicação ao jogo inspiram-me verdadeiramente. Nota: Há tantas geocaches épicas em Portugal que deves planear várias viagens de regresso para experimentar todos elas.

Making a splash at a T5 cache
Making a splash at a T5 cache

Outros acontecimentos importantes do fim de semana incluiram um espetáculo de fogo de artifício, conhecer o Vice Presidente de Braga e um atleta Olímpico que tinha acabado de chegar do Rio, tirar mais de 500 fotos (sem exagero), praticar CITO, experimentar Peddy Paper pela primeira vez, encontrar duas cache T5 (uma numa cave e outra numa ilha), dar mais cinco ao Signal (muitas vezes), comer demasiada pastelaria Portuguesa e fazer muitos novos amigos.

  • The event begins and Signal greets attendees!

Depois do evento, passei uns dias em Lisboa, a comer mais pastelaria (estou a desintoxicar-me) e a passear pelas ruas. Também tive a oportunidade de me encontrar com os incriveís revisores Portugueses para um jantar. Por ser um país relativamente pequeno, Portugal tem cerca de 40 000 geocache ativas, e a equipa de revisores voluntários faz um excelente trabalho ao apoiar o crescimento do jogo e da comunidade.

The Portuguese
Portuguese Community Volunteer Reviewer Team

Que mais posso dizer? A minha viagem a Portugal foi muito especial e sei que não a vou esquecer. A comunidade, os anfitriões, o país, e as aventuras de geocaching foram extraordinárias. Para perceber completamente “o amor”, deves experimentá-lo tu próprio. O evento do próximo ano é no Porto (Agosto 11-13), mais uma cidade mágica do norte. Vemo-nos por lá!

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Love Love Volunteers!
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Love Love Braga: A Mega-Event full of Love, Community, and Geocaching

 

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High-Five for an awesome Mega-Event!


“All you need is love,” The Beatles

100espinhos, a small but dedicated geocaching team from Portugal, had an important revelation back in 2014: the world needs more love and geocaching is one way to help spread it.  For the past several years, they have fully embraced the movement, throwing three 500+ geocacher events— all full of “Love Love.”

“We organize these Megas because we love geocaching and believe that the game brings  immense joy to people’s lives,” said Tiago, one of the 100espinhos. “There’s nothing more powerful than friendships, smiles, and love.”

And it worked. Through their events, they’ve created an inspiring community of geocachers, all dedicated to the game and the love initiative.

100Espinhos Team
100Espinhos Team

In August, I was lucky enough to experience the latest edition of the Love Love Mega series, GC60WBP.The event I attended was held in beautiful Braga, a historic and postcard-perfect city in northern Portugal. It was a long journey from Seattle to Braga but after two six hour flights and a three hour train ride, I had arrived in what I considered geocaching paradise. The event would be four days jam-packed with geocaching activities, Signal the Frog, Lab Caches, mini-excursions throughout the city, and plenty of love-filled community moments. I felt like I was twelve years old again, off to my favorite summer camp… not sure what to expect but unbelievably happy to be there.

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Love Love Braga

Whatever your geo-heart desired over the next four days, Love Love provided. The main event space was in a large auditorium where daily workshops, trackable exchanges, creative container competitions, vendor shopping, and dance classes took place. There was an ongoing CITO initiative where used bottle caps were collected (tampinhas in Portuguese) from event-goersall bottle cap proceeds went towards a wheelchair for a little girl battling a rare disease. In addition to the main space, there were side events planned every day throughout the city where you could take in the city’s main attractions while geocaching. If you didn’t feel like participating in one of the planned outings, you could relax at the swimming pool or visit a nearby museumall free of cost. Everything was very well organized and laid out, all I had to do was embrace the love and have a grand ol’ time!

Carly, Signal, and Tiago
Carly, Signal, and Tiago

Every day was a treat, but the meal times were my favorite. I truly enjoyed the time I spent relaxing, sipping on vinho verde, and chatting with different groups of geocachers while tasting the local cuisine. Their geocaching stories and dedication to the game truly inspired me. Note: There are so many epic geocaches in Portugal that you must plan several return trips to experience them all.

Making a splash at a T5 cache
Making a splash at a T5 cache

Other highlights from the weekend included a fireworks show, meeting the VP mayor of Braga and an Olympic athlete who had just returned from Rio, taking 500+ photos (no exaggeration), CITO-ing, trying Peddy Paper for the first time, finding two T5 caches (one in a cave and one on an island), high-fiving Signal (many times), eating way too many Portuguese pastries and making lots of new friends.

  • The event begins and Signal greets attendees!

After the event, I spent a couple days in Lisboa, eating more pastries (I’m currently detoxing) and wandering the streets. I also had the opportunity to meet the incredible Portuguese reviewers for a nice dinner. For being a relatively small country, Portugal has nearly 40,000 active caches, and the community volunteer reviewer team does an amazing job supporting the growth of the game and the community.

The Portuguese Reviewer Team!
The Portuguese Community Volunteer Reviewer Team with Carly

What more can I say? My trip to Portugal was very special and one that I will never forget. The community, the hosts, the country, and the geocaching adventures were extraordinary. To fully understand “the love,” you must experience it for yourself. Next year’s event is in Oporto (August 11-13th), another magical city in the north. See you there!

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Love Love Volunteers!
Geocachers gather around the logbook

Project Glück Auf

Jedes Jahr können ein paar glückliche Mitarbeiter des Geocaching-Hauptquartiers an einem Mega- oder Giga-Event teilnehmen. Bri Suffety und Cindy Potter waren kürzlich in Essen und haben das Giga-Event “Project Glück Auf 2016” (GC55555) besucht. Bri (Sassy Bandit) ist Frontend-Entwickler und Cindy (Frau Potter) ist Community-Direktor. Les weiter, was Bri über den Besuch schreibt.

Frau Potter, Sassy Bandit, Alex
Geocaching-Mitarbeiter, Frau Potter und Sassy Bandit mit einem der Giga-Organisatoren, Alex.

Inmitten der Region mit der höchsten Geocache-Dichte befindet sich ein altes Steinkohlebergwerk, welches einst vom Abriss bedroht war – die Zeche Zollverein. Schachte wachsen in den Himmel, Ziegelgebäude sprenkeln das Land und die Gehwege schlängeln sich um das Gelände, wie es einst die Gleise taten. Dieser Ort bietet eine einzigartige Kulisse für die 10000 Geocacher, welche sich 2016 zum Project Glück Auf Giga-Event zusammen fanden.

Crowds of people at the event
Food trucks and Geocachers galore
Geocacherin stempelt die Logbuch-Stechkarte

Der Name – Glück Auf – ist ein Bergmannsgruß. Sie wünschten sich damit “Glück, einen neuen Kohlegang aufzutun”, aber auch eine gesunde Rückkehr nach der Schicht.

Das “Glück Auf”-Wochenende begann mit der Registrierung, Lab-Caches und einem Meet&Greet-Event mit Livemusik und einem Logbuch, an welchem Geocacher mit einer Stechkarte “einstempelten”. Ich glaube, ich hatte noch nie so viel Spass mich auf einem Logbuch einzutragen.

Das Hauptevent fand am Samstag statt und sollte um 10 Uhr morgens beginnen – das hätte man nicht gedacht, wenn man die viele Leute gesehen hat, die sich schon um 8 Uhr versammelten. Überall sah man Menschen, aber zum Glück hat es sich nie gedrängt angefühlt. Die Organisatoren nutzten das Gelände gut aus; die Aktivitäten waren gut verteilt und trotzdem war alles zu Fuß erreichbar.

Geocachers versuchen eine Grubenlampe so lange wie möglich hochzuhalten.

Die Lab-Caches und Spiele waren am weitesten entfernt vom Mittelpunkt des Events. Das war für mich die perfekte Gelegenheit, um auf Erkundung zu gehen. Eines der Spiele, an welchem ich teilnahm, forderte Geocacher heraus, eine Grubenlampe so lange wie möglich mit ausgestrecktem Arm hochzuhalten. Man trat nicht nur gegen die anderen in der Gruppe an, sondern auch gegen die Bestzeit des Tages. Als ich an der Reihe war, war die Bestzeit länger als 10 Minuten. Ich konnte gerade mal halb so lange aushalten, bevor mein bebender Arm nicht länger aushalten konnte.

Ich war erstaunt zu sehen, wie viele Leute am Samstag auf dem Event-Gelände blieben. Ich hätte gedacht, dass es ein konstantes Kommen und Gehen geben würde, doch den ganzen Tag über gab es eine lebendige Energie auf dem Event. Picknick-Tische wurden zum Treffpunkt für Mahlzeiten und Zusammenkunft von Freunden, die Kaffee- und Eis-Wagen hatten eine sich stehts bewegende Schlage und und das Gebäude mit den Verkaufsständen war voller zufriedener Käufer. Selbst als das Tagslicht zu schwinden begann und die Geocaching-Band Dosenfischer zu spielen begann, sah man noch viele Gesichter, die sich um die Bühne versammelten.

Signal auf der Bühne während des Dosenfischer-Konzerts
Geocaching-Mitarbeiter Sassy Bandit mit hopmaniak auf dem Goodbye-Event

Sonntag morgen begann mit dem Schicht im Schacht Goodbye-Event und Wolken drohten mit Regen. Zum Glück fielen aber nur ein paar vereinzelte Tropfen.

Als das Event sich dem Ende zuneigte und Umarmungen verteilt wurden, fühlte war ich dankbar, dass ich die Möglichkeit hatte, am Project Glück Auf teilzunehmen, aber auch ein bisschen traurig, dass es Zeit war, von alten und neuen Freunden Abschied zu nehmen.

Ein riesiges Dankeschön an das Orga-Team für euer Engagement und dass ihr ein so erinnerungswürdiges und gut organisiertes Event auf die Beine gestellt habt, welches unglaublich Spaß gemacht hat und Menschen aus der ganzen Welt inspiriert hat, sich zu treffen und Geocaching zu feiern. Ihr verdient eine riesen Runde Applaus. Glück auf!

Das Orga-Team und Familie vor dem Meet&Greet Logbuch

 

Deutsche und Brasilianische Geocaching-Freunde trafen sich auf dem Giga-Event wieder.

 

Kurz bevor ich auf dem Goodbye-Event meine Stempelkarte einreichte.
Geocachers gather around the logbook

Project Glück Auf — The Good Luck Event

Editor’s note: Each year, a few lucky Geocaching HQ staff are able to attend a Mega-Event or Giga-Event. Bri Suffety and Cindy Potter recently traveled to Essen, Germany to attend this year’s Giga-Event. Bri (Sassy Bandit) is a Front End Developer and Cindy (Frau Potter) is the Director of Community. Here is Bri’s story of this visit.

HQ staff and an Event Organizer at the event site
HQ staffers, Frau Potter and Sassy Bandit with one of the primary Giga organizers, Alex.

Amidst the world’s most geocache-dense region is an old coal factory that had once been threatened with demolition. Mine shafts shoot skyward, brick buildings dot the land and sidewalks curve around the grounds the same way rail tracks used to. It all makes for an incredibly unique setting for 10,000 geocachers to gather for the 2016 Project Glück Auf Giga-Event.

Crowds of people at the event
Food trucks and Geocachers galore
Geocacher signing the logbook
Geocacher clocks into the Meet&Greet Event

The name – Glück Auf – is an expression used by miners. It was used to say “good luck” to miners to find coal, but also to come back safely from the mine.

The Glück Auf weekend kicked off with registration, lab caches and a Meet&Greet Event that featured live music and a logbook that had cachers “clock-in” with a time card. I don’t know if I’ve ever had so much fun signing a logbook.

The main event was held on Saturday and had a scheduled start time of 10 AM; although, you wouldn’t know by the number of people who were already gathering at 8 o’clock. There were crowds of people everywhere you went, but I was pleased to find it never felt crowded. The organizers made good use of the space and were able to spread out the various activities while still having everything easily accessible on foot.

Geocachers playing a game at the Giga-Event
Geocachers seeing how long they can hold up a miner’s safety lamp

The activities furthest from the center of the event were the lab caches and games. I welcomed this as the perfect opportunity to go exploring. One of the games I stopped at challenged geocachers to see how long they could hold a safety lamp with their arm extended. Not only were you trying to outlast the other people in your group but you were also trying to beat the best time of the day. When I played, the time to beat for an adult was over 10 minutes. I made it about half that before my shaking arm could take no more.

I was surprised at how many people remained at the event site on Saturday. I had expected an ebb and flow as people came and went. However, there was a lively energy that lasted throughout the day. Picnic tables became the hub for meals and reuniting with friends, the coffee cart and ice cream trucks had a revolving line and the vendor building was bustling with happy shoppers. Even as the light started to fade and the geocaching band, Dosenfischer, started to play, there were still many faces settled in around the stage.

Geocaching band, Dosenfischer
Signal on stage at the Dosenfischer concert
Sassy Bandit and hopmaniak
HQ Staffer Sassy Bandit with hopmaniak at the Goodbye Event

Sunday morning brought the Schicht im Schacht (That’s It) Goodbye Event and clouds that threatened rain. Fortunately, our collective luck held out and scattered sprinkles were all that fell.

As the event wrapped up and hugs started to be doled out, I felt both grateful for the opportunity to attend Project Glück Auf and a little sad that it was time to say goodbye to geocaching friends old and new.

A huge thank you to the Orga-Team for your dedication in creating a memorable, well organized, incredibly fun event that inspired people from around the world to gather in a single location and celebrate the game of geocaching. You deserve a huge round of applause. Glück auf!

Orga-Team
The Orga-Team and family in front of the Meet&Greet logbook

 

HQ Staff with German and Brazilian Geocachers
German and Brazilian geocaching friends who were reunited at the Giga-Event

 

Sassy Bandit clocking out of the goodbye event
Getting ready to turn in my time stamped card at the Goodbye Event
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Geocaching Near the Top of the World – Finnish Style

This sign does not lie
This sign does not lie

Mega-Smiles at Latitude 61 in Finland

Editor’s note: Geocaching HQ staff are  attending dozens of Mega-Events around the world, shaking hands, sharing stories of adventure, and of course, geocaching. Each person at Geocaching HQ brings their own unique talent to advancing the adventure. Some write code for the website, others design images for the apps, and some shoot videos explaining it all. Cindy or  Frau Potter works with geocaching community volunteers. This is her Mega-Event experience.

Cindy a.k.a. Frau Potter
Cindy a.k.a. Frau Potter

At Latitude 61, this time of year days are long and nights are short. With sunrise at 4:00am and sunset at 11:00pm, I found this left plenty of time for meeting geocachers at Mega Finland 2014 – Amazing Geocaching. In fact, more than 1,600 geocachers attended this event and I needed all that extra time to meet them all!

 My weekend began with a 3-hour train ride from Helsinki, Finland to the event location at Himos holiday resort near Jämsä, Finland. I arrived just in time to witness hundreds of geocachers helping to set up the geo-village, including erecting tents and preparing campfires. It was terrific to see all the collaboration. The event organizers (Gnutcha&Joorz) are veterans at hosting Mega-Events. This was the third and biggest, Mega-Event they organized. They were understandably proud of this free event. The Himos resort supplied the location, showers, toilets and water free of charge in return for the paying campers and cottage rentals. Gnutcha&Joorz said the official expenses for the event came in at about 60 Euros.

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Team Papan Poppoo
 Mega-Event Organizers Gnutcha&Joorz

Mega-Event Organizers Gnutcha&Joorz
My amazing team - Jarom, arnevela, tuulituuli and Gandal491
My amazing team – Jarom, arnevela, tuulituuli and Gandal491

The primary activity at the Mega-Event were two Adventure courses (one competitive and one leisure) and 10 fun Lab Caches. Geocachers were divided into teams to complete these courses. A highlight of my weekend was working with my team – Jarom, arnevela, tuulituuli and Gandal491 – on the course and Lab Caches. We had a lot of laughs together.

My favorite stations were “Flaming Tower, “Robin Hood” and “Bingo”. The Flaming Tower required three geocachers – one to pump water, one to aim the spray at the target and one to grab the container as it floated to the top. What a great activity for such a hot day!

Careful aim brings geocache container floating to the top
Careful aim brings geocache container floating to the top

Robin Hood looked like a modern practice for Hunger Games, except no one got hurt. And the Bingo activity was a creative Lab Cache that required you to get signatures from event volunteers who had completed certain geocaching accomplishments. The Bingo activity was a brilliant way to make sure participants talked with volunteers.

Geocachers prepping for Hunger Games
Geocachers prepping for Hunger Games
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Galdal491 signs for Bingo lab cache
Queue waiting to sign coffee event logbook
Queue waiting to sign coffee event logbook

It was terrific to see why geocaching is so popular in Finland and to meet so many new friends. To my new Finnish geocaching friends, I say “Kiitos!”. Thanks for the adventure!