Geocaching is so much more than just finding hidden containers and signing a log. There’s a whole social side to the hobby! Most geocachers love getting together with others who share the same love of the activity, compare notes, plan outings, etc. What better way to do all that than by attending a Mega event? A Mega event is usually an annual event with more than 500 attendees.
There are many different types of Mega events, and each one has its own draw. Most are themed, have other side events, have contests and prizes, and have new caches hidden for the purpose of the attendees to find. They can certainly be overwhelming if you’ve never attended one before or if you’re heading to one you’ve never been to before.
I’ve put together some things I’ve learned over the years to help easier plan attending a Mega event.
The first thing you need to decide is what you are looking to get out of the event. Do you just want to show up and sign in for the icon? Do you want to participate in the event activities and experience everything it has to offer? Do you just want to find a ton of caches in the area? Maybe a little of all of the above. They’re all perfectly acceptable, and I usually do a little of everything at Megas.
Doing your research ahead of time will help you know what to expect, plan out your day(s) and route, and know what to expect.
Will you be daytripping it or staying overnight? How long will you be in the area and where do you plan on staying? Sometimes the event organizers will have suggested hotels in the area with negotiated discounted rates. Some Mega events are known for the camping experience on site. No matter where you stay, be sure to book your accommodations well in advance.
Schedule of Events
What is the schedule? Is it multiple days or just one, and how many of those will you attend? Are there other accessory events the day before and/or the day after that you’d like to attend? Are there games and activities? Many Mega events have activities such as bingo, a poker run, a stamp book, etc. Often times there are prizes for those activities, so if you participate make sure you’ll be present when the winners are announced. Usually there is a group photo around this time as well.
Special Caches and Lab Caches
Many Mega events have special caches that are hidden just for the event. Sometimes those are the caches you will need to find in order to win prizes. Most Mega events also have Lab caches that are available only during the event. These are special caches that require you to find a keyword in order to log it as a find.
Other Caches in the Area
Check out the existing caches in the surrounding area. Solve puzzles and check challenges to see if you qualify. Are there highly favorited caches? Are there rare cache types such as webcams or virtuals? Are you working on a challenge that some area caches will help fulfill? Maybe some oldies for your Jasmer or some high D/T’s for your Fizzy? Going to a new area is a great way to add a few finds that you wouldn’t otherwise see. Or maybe there is an official Geotour in the area that will earn you a Coin and a virtual souvenir.
Once you have your targeted caches picked out, be sure to download a GPX file for your GPSr or save them to an offline list for your app. You never know what cell signal will be like in the area. You should also be able to download a GPX file of the Lab caches once those are released.
Swag and Vendors
Most Mega events will have event swag, such as shirts, pathtags, geocoins, etc. Often times you will be able to purchase your swag ahead of time and pick it up at the event, so be sure you know when and where pick up is. Many Mega events have an area where specialty vendors have booths set up for your geocaching supply shopping pleasure. This is a great opportunity to pick up some good quality containers, apparel, trackables, etc.
One thing that is often forgotten to be worked in to the plan is food. Some Megas have food vendors on site, but others do not. Don’t forget to leave yourself time to eat and replenish your energy so you can find more caches!
Check the Weather
Dress appropriately! The Mega will go on rain or shine! Nothing is worse than being ill prepared for inclement weather. Be sure you have enough water if it’s excessively hot.
No matter how prepared you are ahead of the Mega, it will never go the way you planned. Maybe it will take longer to find your target caches. Maybe someone told you about a brand new nearby power trail that wasn’t even on your radar. Maybe you keep running into other cachers you know and don’t see very often who want to sit and chat for a while, which puts you behind schedule. Ultimately know that you will need to play it by ear at some point or another. Prioritize your list of must-do’s so you know what to skip if you need to.
What to Bring
Caching bag, swag, trackables and/or pathtags, money, pen, extra logs, extra clothes & shoes, GPSr, external battery, water, snacks, and definitely bring your sense of adventure!
One Last Thought
Have fun! Enjoy yourself. Take it all in. Look around and realize that all those people there with you share the same passion for this awesome activity you love so much. Take the opportunity to mingle and make new friends. You’ll discover that geocachers are the same no matter where they’re from.
And don’t forget to submit your Attended log to earn that special Mega event icon!