You know how it goes. You try to talk to your friends and family about your fun hobby called Geocaching. You get the typical “Geo-what?” response, or the quizzical look as you try to explain – the look that quickly turns into the bemused, long-suffering expression as you get more and more animated. Finally they try to end the conversation with a semi-sincere, “You’ll have to take me out with you sometime and show me.” Ah-ha! You’ve got them! Pick a date, put it on the calendar and start planning your trip. With these helpful tips, you’ll have a fun time AND you just might have some new converts to go geocaching with you!
1 – Take them to geocaches that you have found. I know, I know. It’s really tempting to try out a new hide that you’re dying to find – you gotta get those numbers up, after all!! – but DON’T. If you take some newbies to a cache you’re not familiar with and you run into ANY type of problem: a less-than-ideal location (think lots of trash), a broken container, difficult terrain, or worst of all – you CAN’T FIND IT, then you will have just convinced them that their negative perception of geocaching was right after all! There is plenty of time to take them with you on a new hunt – just NOT the first time out!
2 – Check the logs to make sure the caches have been found recently and they don’t need maintenance. It may have been some time since you found these particular caches. Make sure the recent logs indicate the cache is in place, with no problems mentioned. If finders are talking about broken lids, wet containers or full log-sheets, you might want to consider choosing a different geocache.
3 – Choose the appropriate size. This will probably be regular or large, especially if you have kids in the group. Even for grownups, a larger container will be easier and more fun to find. If you don’t have kids along, and you think your friends would appreciate a cleverly-hidden urban micro, then by all means choose some of those. You could have a fun afternoon taking them to some creative urban hides around your city.
4 – Make sure there are several geocaches to find at the location you have chosen. Whether it’s along a trail, in a park or around the city, you’ll want to avoid having to get everyone back in the car to drive to another geocache.
5 – If you can, choose a cool or unique location in your neighborhood. Part of the fun of geocaching, as we all know, is finding unexpected places in the midst of areas we are familiar with. You may have a friend who is not all that impressed with finding a container, but is captivated by the reality of a hidden gem of a location right under their nose.
6 – Start with a trip to the dollar store. This is especially true if you have kids along. You can explain to them about how trading works, and then allow them to pick out several items at the store that they could take along to trade. Another alternative is to have them choose a few items from their own toys before leaving home. You’ll want to make sure that you don’t build up high expectations of the “treasure” they will find and you will want to have some extra trinkets along to share as well.
7 – Show them the map of geocaches around their home. This is a great way to amaze and intrigue them, as they look at familiar locations and see all the “hidden boxes” they didn’t know were there.
8 – Get them actively involved in the hunt. As you begin your hike or walk, assign them the job of “following the arrow” on the GPSr or smartphone and give some simple instructions about what they see on the screen. This is a way to engage them immediately and keep their attention on the game. It’s also fun to watch the distance count down as you get closer to ground zero.
9 – Make sure everyone can experience the thrill of the find. If you have more than one newbie with you, make sure everyone knows the “Huckle Buckle” game. Explain that as everyone spreads out to look, if you spot the geocache, don’t yell “I found it!” Simply continue to wander around as if you are looking, and when you are a distance away from the geocache, quietly say “Huckle Buckle”. This lets everyone know that you found it, but doesn’t give the location away, thus allowing the others in your group to have the fun of finding it as well.
10 – Don’t overwhelm your friends with too many geocaches. Choose just a few caches the first time, with a couple more “in reserve” in case they are really excited about it. Let them be the ones to say “can we find another one?” and leave them wanting more!
11 – Bring a camera to document their first geocache find. Who knows, your muggle friend might be the next 10,000 cache finder in your town and they’ll want to remember their very first one.