From time to time, geocaching.com runs promotions that give geocachers an opportunity to earn souvenirs. Souvenirs are nothing new to the game – they are a digital pin that gets added to your profile for specific feats. You earn one for your first find in a new state and/or country, as well as for attending Mega Events. Throughout the years, there have been other opportunities to earn souvenirs on special days such as International Earthcache Day, Get Outdoors Day, Geocaching in Space, and Australia Day, as well as longer promotions that have been introduced in the past couple of years, such as the 31 Days of Geocaching or Mary Hyde.
These unique souvenirs are advertised by geocaching.com as something fun to add to geocaching. They are not required, and no one is shamed for not earning them. In fact, I’m pretty sure the only person who looks at what souvenirs I’ve earned is me. I know I don’t look to see what others have earned, because frankly I don’t care.
Planetary Pursuit: Explore Beyond
This leads me to discuss geocaching.com’s newest souvenir promotion, Planetary Pursuit. I’ve seen a lot of grumbling on social media about this promotion. That’s nothing new – people seem to love to find something to complain about. What frustrates me immensely about this, though, is that geocaching is supposed to be a fun activity. It’s a voluntary hobby. Every participant does it their own way. No one is forcing anyone to go out and earn the souvenirs, and there is certainly no penalty if you don’t.
People used to complain that the game was getting boring, that there was nothing new, etc. They desperately wanted geocaching.com to do something different and exciting, and they clearly listened! Over the past few years, there has been so much added to this game. And this Planetary Pursuit promotion is something else that is being offered as an option to add to the experience that you (hopefully) already love. Yet for some reason people still aren’t happy. Before it was too easy, and now it’s too difficult!
Now, I realize that you can’t make 100% of the people happy 100% of the time. I’m no dummy. But I also know that geocaching is supposed to fun. And if you’re doing more complaining than complimenting, maybe you shouldn’t be doing it. The beauty of this activity is that there’s more than one way to play. I call it an activity because that’s exactly what it is. It is not a game! A game implies that there is competition and that there is a winner and/or a loser. There is no competition in geocaching, unless you choose for there to be. You can find as many or as few as you want. You can find one every day or twice a year. You can find only micro park and grabs, or you can exclusively find regulars in the woods. It’s up to each individual to play the way they want to play. This goes for participating in any sort of souvenir-earning promotion too. Geocaching.com is not telling you that you have to find anything or that you have to earn all 10 souvenirs. But you can if you want to.
Let’s be realistic about this too. Souvenirs really don’t mean anything, do they? It’s simply a check mark showing that you’ve done something. When you meet another geocacher for the first time, do you ask them how many souvenirs they have? Probably not. You’re likely more interested in how many caches they’ve found or how many hides they have. And really, what does that even mean? Does having more finds make you a better geocacher? You know the answer to that. Statistics are really just a tally of the experiences you’ve had along the way.
I do understand the basis for some of the gripes that I’ve heard from others. Some people might have time constraints and/or proximity issues that will make it difficult find enough caches to earn enough points for the souvenirs regardless of whether they want to or not. The promotion runs for three weeks, including three weekends, and there’s still plenty of time to plan a 1- or 2-day road trip to an area where you can earn enough points. And there’s still time to set up an event or two. It’s still a find if you’re the only one there, isn’t it?
I understand the comparison to the whole challenge cache debacle from a few years ago. I get the whole time-limited finds argument since this was such a touchy subject for challenge caches. But remember, this promotion is not a challenge cache and earning a souvenir doesn’t count towards your finds. It’s about accumulating points over a three-week period, and there are multiple ways to earn those points. And again, it’s optional.
This souvenir promotion won’t be a piece of cake. You’ll have to really plan out your caching to make sure you get the required points for the souvenirs. It seems a bit more challenging than previous promotions, which is what I love about it. It seemed like for a long time geocaching.com geared the activity and promotions to the occasional or sporadic cacher, rather than the core group of active cachers who find caches on a regular basis. For this one, there’s something for everyone (see the points breakdown below). You can do as much or as little as you want and get souvenirs to show for what you’ve done. The more effort you put into it, the more souvenirs you will earn.
I’m not trying to start an argument. This is simply the way I perceive and participate in this activity. Geocaching to me is a very personal experience. I’m friends with geocachers at both ends of the spectrum – those that have over 100,000 finds and are in a race (with themselves) to be ranked #1 and those that might find a few caches here and there and don’t really pay attention to anything other than that. Neither one is right and neither one is better than the other.
Personally, I’m somewhere in the middle. I go after numbers, but I also go after good quality caches. There are times when slinging lamp skirts is perfectly acceptable to me, and there are other times when I’d rather spend the day in the middle of the woods hunting ammo cans. Will I try to get all 10 of the Planetary Pursuit promotion? Probably. But then I’ll probably never look at them again.
Now, with all that having been said, let’s go into the promotion itself. If you choose to participate, here’s what you need to know.
Between March 19 and April 8, find and log caches to earn points based on the type of find, favorite points, or dropping a trackable. From the geocaching.com blog, the points breakdown is –
- 5 points earned for each “Found It” log on a Traditional, Virtual, Webcam, or Wherigo
- 10 points for each “Found It” log on a Multi-cache or Letterbox
- 15 points for each “Found It” log on a Mystery or Earthcache
- 15 points for each “Found It” log on cache with 10 or more favorite points – this negates the above points
- 15 points for each “Attended” log for an event
- 4 points for dropping off a trackable
The maximum number of points you can earn for logging any one cache is 15 points. For example, if you find a traditional with 25 favorite points, that’s only worth 15 points not the 5 for traditional plus 15 for favorite points. It is my understanding that logging a Mystery cache, for example, and dropping off a trackable there will earn you a total of 19 points. Since the find and the drop are two separate actions, they will each earn you points.
From the geocaching.com blog, earning points will reward you with souvenirs –
- 5 points earns Earth
- 10 points earns Venus
- 20 points earns Mercury
- 40 points earns Mars
- 65 points earns Jupiter
- 100 points earns Saturn
- 200 points earns Uranus
- 300 points earns Neptune
- 500 points earns Pluto
- Earning all 9 planet souvenirs also earns the bonus Official Space Explorer Souvenir.
I said it wasn’t going to be easy, didn’t I? Keep in mind, this is an accumulation of points over the three weeks between March 19 and April 8. The points won’t reset each week as they have in past promotions. Even still, that’s a lot of caches to find! It’s thirty-four 15-point finds or a hundred 5-point finds. But I also want to point out that one 15-point find will earn you both the Earth and Venus souvenirs!
Keep in mind points are awarded and souvenirs are earned on an individual basis, which is different than Friend League promotions in the past. I think that has caused some confusion. Remember that the Friend League is simply a leader board that shows the points you and your friends have earned each week based on different promotions. Sometimes it’s a group effort, but this one is not.
Be sure to log your finds quickly. In the past, the cutoff to log your caches for the previous week was the following Wednesday. It’s not clear yet when the cutoff will be for this promotion, so be sure to keep up with logging if you want to earn the souvenirs.
If you want to keep up with my points, feel free to send me a friend request on geocaching.com.
Prepare for lift off! Are you ready?