One of the things I love about geocaching is its community. And there is no better way to bring that community together than to host a local geocaching event. A geocaching event is simply a gathering of geocachers. It’s a great way to meet new cachers and catch up with old caching friends.
A geocaching event could be a simple meet and greet. It could be a regularly scheduled get together, such as a Friday Lunch Club. Maybe you’ll be on vacation and would like to meet some local geocachers while you’re there. It could be a themed event. I have hosted events called For the Love of Caching in February, which obviously were Valentine’s Day events. It could be an event to celebrate everyone’s milestones. This list could go on and on, but I think you get the point.
A specific type of geocaching event is a CITO (Cache In Trash Out). While these are technically events and much of the below information is relevant, they have their own list of Do’s and Don’ts. Be sure to do your research before hosting a CITO event.
I’ve been to some really great events, and I’ve been to some pretty bad ones. What makes one event better than others? To help you with the basics, I’ve compiled this list of things to keep in mind when planning to host your own geocaching event.
A geocaching event is for geocachers! It’s ok to have some “muggles” or non-geocachers there as well, but it should be geared mainly towards geocachers and their families. It should not intentionally exclude anyone.
Plan a get together of at least 30 minutes. It can be organized and structured, or it can be just a location to hang out and socialize.
It’s not a bad idea to have name tags and a pen next to the event log book (if you have one). There might be twenty people at an event, and you only know half of them. You would probably be more likely to talk to someone you don’t know if you see their name tag and recognize their name.
Maybe they recently found one of your hides. You can ask them how the container was holding up in the weather or if the log was getting full. Ask about their experience during the hunt and the find. Or maybe you just found one of their hides and want to let them know in person how great it was or that it might need a little maintenance. In any case, you might not have even known who they are without a name tag!
It is not expected or required to have games and/or giveaways at an event, but nobody would be mad if you did! Ask for donations, check out your local dollar store, or even better check out the official Geocaching Shop.
Be sure to keep potential attendees updated of any changes or extra information regarding your event. This can be done by using the Announcements feature on the event listing. The announcement will be emailed to everyone who has logged a will-attend.
The date and time of your geocaching event will also affect the turnout. Try to make sure there won’t be any conflicts. Check a religious holidays calendar! Ordinary days to you might be the holiest of days for someone else. Think about annual events and when they usually are. Reach out to the host of that annual event to make sure they’re not planning their event for the same day and/or time. You don’t want to step on anyone’s toes.
The chosen location could be the most important part of an event.
Parks and forest preserves are popular locations. You may need to reserve a shelter, which could cost money. It’s OK to ask your attendees for a donation to help cover any out of pocket expenses, but it’s not OK to charge a mandatory cover charge.
Remember that geocaching is a family friendly activity, and events should be held at appropriate locations. If you really want to hold an event at a bar that does not allow anyone under 21, it’s ok but please be sure to mention this in the event listing on geocaching.com.
Make sure the venue is big enough to hold the expected crowd. And definitely expect more attendees than the number of will-attends that are logged. Even if it’s a venue you frequent, go there specifically to look around and make sure there will be adequate seating for everyone. Talk to the owner or manager and explain that you would like to host a gathering there. Let them know when and how many people you are expecting, and then update them as the date gets closer. A good estimate is to actually double the number of will-attends. Keeping the venue updated will ensure they are properly staffed.
Consider the geocaches in the area surrounding the event. You may get a better turnout if there is a high density of newer geocaches in the area. It’s not unusual for me to plan a Saturday caching outing based on where there is an event that night. Many people will get to the area early or stay later to find the caches around the venue. And no one would mind if you place a few new ones close by and request that they publish a little before or just after the event!
To have fun. To earn a smiley. To meet other geocachers. To make friends.
The community that I’ve discovered through geocaching is like none other that I’ve ever experienced.
BONUS: What Not To Do
- Don’t use the event for any commercial purposes. It’s ok to give the name of the venue where the event will be held, but you can’t say that everyone needs to come to the event because they have the best ice cream in the universe.
- Don’t try to host an event at an airport, cruise ship port, or train station. It will be denied by the reviewer.
- Don’t set up an event as a meeting point with the main intent of finding geocaches.
- Don’t skip out or leave early, even if no one shows up. This host is expected to be there the entire advertised time. People do show up within the last few minutes!
- Don’t forget to archive the event listing a few weeks after the event. Give the attendees some time to log their attended logs.
I’d love to hear about some of your favorite events. And if you’re ever in the Chicago area, be sure to host your own event so you can tell me about them in person!