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How do you describe Geocaching to a muggle?

A Blog Post:

Okay, before I even get started, let me say that this is a rant hidden in a question. It’s a pet peeve on a genuinely trivial topic and I acknowledge that before I get ramped up.

What metaphor do you use to describe Geocaching?

I’ve seen:
A high-tech game of hide and seek
A high-tech scavenger hunt
A high-tech treasure hunt
(I’ve seen “modern-day” substituted for high-tech.)

We use these in an attempt to quickly describe to muggles what Geocaching is. To be effective, the catch phrase should simplify and project an image or vision to the non-geocacher. Do some of the above metaphors do that well? I don’t think so. Let’s take a look at couple definitions that I copied from Wikipedia (just to give us a starting point).

“Hide-and-seek or hide-and-go-seek is a game in which a number of players conceal themselves in the environment, to be found by one or more “seekers”.”

My memory of playing Hide and Seek when I was a kid was that of hiding MYSELF (I was pretty good at it too, being small, I could hide pretty easily) not a container. Have any of you played Hide and Seek and hid a container? Now, I understand that in Geocaching you do HIDE something and someone does come along to SEEK it, but it’s simply not the same game and I think using this example gives muggles the wrong impression and requires even more explanation to set them straight. By the way if there are any of you who actually hid YOURSELF as a geocache, listed yourself and then waited for others to come find you, let me know. I’d be interested to hear how that worked out.

“A scavenger hunt is a game in which individuals or teams seek to gather a number of specific items or perform tasks as specified by a list. The goal is usually to be the first to complete the list.”

Okay a couple key point here and again they corroborate with my memory of scavenger hunts that I have done: “Gather items (or perform tasks) from a LIST”. The goal here is to complete the list first.

Again, people can be creative and design caches that have “aspects” of a scavenger hunt (i.e. walk around an area and collect data that will lead you to the Final), but IN GENERAL geocaches are single containers, not on a predetermined list, that you do not collect. Once again, I think this example gives muggles the wrong impression and require more information to clarify.

My vote is therefore for the metaphor of a Modern-day / High-tech TREASURE HUNT. In my humble opinion, this sums up the experience. Someone has taken the time to hide a package somewhere “out there”. There are clues for you to follow. You can use tools, (compass, treasure map, sextant and in our case GPS receivers) to help you locate it. And there are items in the container, even if just a log book. Most muggles hearing it referred to as a treasure hunt will get a pretty accurate vision of what takes place. Make minor adjustments (i.e. sign the log and put the container back for others to find) and the muggle is quickly on their way to understanding what geocaching is all about.

What do you think? Let’s hear you on this? Click Here

PS: Here’s a sentence that makes me cringe like fingernails on a chalkboard: “We were playing this high-tech game of hide and seek and the best one ever was right under a lamp post!!!” (great now that one is going to keep me up at night … )

‘nuf sed

2 comments to How do you describe Geocaching to a muggle?

  • elagirlarch

    I generally say, “I’m treasure hunting. People hide objects all over the world and publish the gps coordinates to their locations and people like me go find them. We sign a piece of paper inside then log our find on an international website that keeps track of who has found which caches. It’s tons of fun and I’ve found some really cool places I never knew existed!”

  • It’s an Easter Egg Hunt. Just like the Easter Bunny, someone goes out and hides something for others to find. We just use more sophisticated stuff to find our Easter Eggs.

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