Geocaching Pay It Forward – Can It Save Our Addiction?

In my opinion, and I recognise others will have different view (they can’t help being wrong), the hobby of geocaching suffers from shrinking cache size. I don’t deny that nanos and micros have their place but I believe the greatest satisfaction is in finding a decent sized cache full of interesting stuff (hopefully after a good walk in the bush). It has become too easy for cachers to place a 200ml snaplock container in a place where a much larger container could easily go and as a result they are now everywhere.

So why is this bad? Surely this is the evolution of the hobby? Most cachers don’t want to trade so isn’t a logbook okay?

It’s bad because to remove these fundamental parts of the game is to remove much of the substance of it. I liken it to buying a car. Who wants to fork out a fortune for something that is a simple shell with four wheels and a 900cc engine? For our money we want far more – air conditioning, power steering, ABS braking, a stereo and GPS navigation (of course) – even if we will never use some of it. The same applies to geocaching. Who wants to walk for hours to find a small snaplock container with a cut down notebook for a log? Where is the substance?

And think of the newbie starting out in the game. After downloading Cachesense onto their new Blackberry and uploading a cache GPX they head out to find…a small colourful piece of plastic. “Maybe the next one will be better?” they think. But it’s not. Who in their right mind would continue with a hobby like that?

But I’ve fallen into a rant about cache size and that was not my intention.

What I really wanted to do was RAVE about a cache concept that could have a dramatic impact on cache size in your area. A fellow cacher lead me to this concept recently and I think it is so simple but utterly brilliant.

The idea is to create a cache that supplies ready to go cache containers (a regular or bigger container with a logbook). Cachers who find that cache can elect to take away a ready made cache container to place somewhere else.

There are two beautiful benefits to this. The first is that it is an encouragement for cachers to place new caches and therefore giving you a more caches to run out and find. When you have found all the local caches this is great way of ensuring new ones are produced for you to hunt down.

The second benefit is that by supplying caches of the size you want to find (hopefully regular or larger) you will be increasing the number of those caches being placed and hopefully reducing the number of small caches out there.

Essentially, this is the geocaching equivalent of ‘Pay It Forward’, the concept where you give to others so they may also give to others. Though in this case you also end up benefiting. Brilliant.

Got any other ideas for maintaining the substance of the sport? Feel free to share them in the comments.



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  1. ErikaJean

    I’ve heard of these “seed” caches before. Though I’ve never come across one. I think typically, they are filled with small film containers that people are to use to place a new cache… I think it would be hard to place/maintain one that holds anything bigger, such as regular or larger cache seed caches… You’re initial cache would have to be pretty big, or only have a couple ready-made caches.

    Anyway, the only problem I see with seed caches is haphazardly placed caches. By that I mean people placing caches, just to place caches… and just because they have a continer. Placements with little thought on concept, camo and location. 🙁

    Perhaps, one ready made cache in the original cache for the FTF?

  2. GSV

    I’d agree re seed caches filled with film cans: not a good idea at all!

    However, having a 2ltr cache all set up and ready to go as the FTF prize in a bucket cache would be absolutely brilliant. They also make great Event prizes!

    I like the car analogy. The way I see it, a regular geocache with trade items allows everyone to play the game their own way. A small/micro with just a logstrip makes everyone play it the geo-loggers’ way.
    [insert grumpy old codger image here]

  3. Cumbyrocks

    @Erika – my feeling is that rather than people randomly placing caches for the sake of it they are more likely to use the larger cache in place of a smaller one they already have planned. I’d also like to think that they would place the larger cache in the prime location and leave the small ones for the silly roadside placement. Scary to think there are seed caches full of micros! For a regular seed cache the container does need to be big, but having just seen it done i can say it is possible. The FTF prize a great variation as well!

    @GSV – better still would be a ready made bucket cache as FTF prize a a bucket cache. Hmmm, I wonder where I could get a supply of those…

  4. Dodger

    I won’t say that I’ve totally given them up, but I pretty much ignore any new micros that pop up on my notifications. I almost always skip them if we take the whole family caching. Like you said, they have their place, but in general they are just something easy for a hider to put out. Many fall into Erika Jean’s “just for the sake of it” line of thinking. In addition – “Placements with little thought on concept, camo and location…” All big problems in my book. Is it really so hard to wrap some camo tape on your cache container? It makes it so much better. It’s like decorating a cake or wrapping a gift – presentation is important!

    Not sure I like the ‘feel’ a seed cache gives, though. It’s sort of like, “Hey! I made this for you. Now go hide it in the woods for me to find.” Takes some of the mystique out of it.

  5. Cumbyrocks

    Having spoken to the CO who inspired this post recently she wanted me to point out that the cache (that because of it’s new state shall remain nameless) is in a beautiful area that is convenient for maintenance. It also happens to be near one of Dunedin’s first geocaches, a must do cache for anyone caching about our fine city.

    @Dodger – I feel much the same way. Quite a number of the caches published in the last few weeks have been micros and I’ve felt absolutely no desire to rush out the door to be FTF (which had my wife testing to see if I was ill). One set of themed micros (the Main Street series for any locals) did get me off the couch, but they had a great theme, locations and were released over a number of days so the excitement built as we anticipated whether another would come out.

  6. Tim+Jed

    We are relatively new to caching, but feel we have done enough now to know we don’t feel “bigger is better’ is the case. To us it comes down to quality- not just of container, but of all the things that go into making and placing a cache- The theme (if there is one), the name (how well does it tie in with other aspects of the cache?), hints, puzzling descriptions, interesting information, working things out and then of course the hunt itself- and all these things are best when there is a bit of variety. The caches we’ve enjoyed the most. and put smiles on our faces are always the ones that got us thinking and appreciating the effort, and never come down to shear bulk. Thanks very much for the interesting Blog

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