I read in one of the forums and how-to guides on Geocaching way back when that you should wait until you have at least 20 finds before placing your first hide. This was to give the new player time to experience good and bad techniques, camouflage, locations and terrain. The thought was (or so I infer) the community will see higher quality caches as a result.
Sadly, that advice is not easy to track down anymore, nor is it widely followed. At least in the North San Diego County area we have recently seen a rash of new cachers placing their first hides after just a handful of finds, sometimes as little as 1 or none! They all generally suffer from some of the same problems with location, detail and longevity. Those are the reasons you should wait a bit before placing your first hide. Details on that, below the fold.
If you’re just starting out Geocaching and are just dying to place a cache before the week is out, please reconsider and read on. Understand that I love your creative idea, I really do. In fact, we need MORE of your type of creativity around here to spice things up. Let’s just see if I can help you with that hide so it lasts a good long time. So for those of you with <20 finds thinking about a cache hide, here’s why you should wait:
- You probably need help or at least instructions for shooting the coordinates properly
Yes, I know it seems easy- just push the button, right? Later on you will figure out what it recorded and we’re all set. Please don’t. This has to be one of the biggest problems new cacher/hiders face. Please learn how to do it right and avoid BIG problems when the next cacher comes along. Better yet, place the cache and give the coordinates to a buddy. Let him/her go find it and report back to you later, THEN (if it was spot on) go write up the cache hide.
- You don’t know the area as well as you think
You don’t. I know you’ve lived here for 30 years but you’ve only been Geocaching for 30 minutes. That “secret spot” you know about is actually property of the power company, your neighbor or the railroad. Do a LOT of looking around, verifying danger and ownership, THEN think about placing the hide. Remember, there may be 100 strangers poking around in your secret spot at 10pm on a weeknight: is that going to work?
- Some things have changed around here recently…
This is a play on the second note. Really, you’d be surprised how fast “No Trespassing” signs go up. There are whole areas with a dozen caches surrounded by those off limits markers. The caches were there first, then the signs. So don’t even think about those areas, and keep your eye out for sign planting.
- If you stop playing the game tomorrow, your caches are just litter
Nothing could be more true. I have 2 friends who hid caches and just abandoned them. I can’t get these people I see every week to let me take over their reasonably well done newbie hides, so do you think I trust a stranger with 6 finds to stick around, committed? Nope. Rethink this, because it really is a commitment to maintaining something for a while. This isn’t to discourage you, but you should understand nobody likes archiving caches, especially due to abandonment.
- That container is not going to last a month
This is easy enough to solve, but it’s worth a visit. That thin plastic container will not last a month outdoors in the sun. It’s not waterproof and it’s fragile as heck. Go take a look at some ammo cans to see how it is done.
- There’s a couple of caches you didn’t know about…
And you can’t see them on the map because you are not a premium member. So you’ve picked out the coordinates, dropped the hide in place and submitted the listing. Oops; there are 3 caches right on top of yours you couldn’t see, so your cache has to go. The reviewer has to break this bad news to you and in all likelihood you are going to get upset after doing all that work. Nobody wants you to waste your time, least of all the reviewers.
- Geocaching is not a waystation for your lunchbox goodies
Please- no food. Chocolate bars, eggs and other miscellany are neat and everything but do you know a.) how hot it gets here, and b.) what animals do to Geocaches with food in them? Why does food seem to feature in new cachers’ caches lately?
- Finally: Children play this game!
And I can’t stress this enough. My kids play this game. I know of at least 20 regular Geocachers under the age of 10 in North San Diego County and that cache container, its contents, the hide location or area that must be traversed are all questionable. There is no such thing as an “adult” Geocache.
Now these are just observations from my point of view as a seeker. I am sure the reviewers have a different take, but while you’re out there getting to know the game, just wait a bit. You can score 20 finds pretty easily, so why not take a walk and see what others have done before you pour your heart into a new hide? Heck, you might even learn something or meet someone cool.
And friends, knowing a little about the folks you play with is always a good thing. Coming up soon, I’ll regale you with a bona fide anecdote of just what can go wrong with the newest of cachers’ hides. I hope it has a happy ending, but only time will tell.