Geocaching Events 101
So you're a newer Geocacher and have yet to come out to an event Geocache. How do I find them? What do I do? What if I don't know anyone? These are common things that cachers think about when it comes to events.
So we'll take a few minutes to go through some of those thoughts. I will welcome feedback from people and add to this post.
Why should you attend an event? At first blush, Geocaching appears to be a solitary activity. However, most people were introduced to Geocaching by a friend. That in itself would have been fun. You’re out spending time with your friend and the thrill of the hunt made it all that more fun. Let’s face it, if you’re reading this, you’re probably already sold on this fun activity. So if you found it fun to do with your friend (or family) then it you may find other people who share the same sense of fun.
At heart, Geocaching really is a social activity. It takes people to hide a Geocache and it takes other people to find that Geocache. You’re connecting with someone else through a small container of plastic hidden somewhere in the world. There’s a story behind the container hide and a story behind the find. The more elaborate hides end up with the more fun stories. Sharing stories is what brings people together and enhance old friendships and begin new friendships. So let’s get connected.
First off, how do you find out that there is an event coming up? Well, several ways. The first, is on this website, www.mbga.ca. There is a calendar linked at the top. Then there are postings, like the one you are reading. If you scroll to the bottom of this page, you can click on the numbers to see older entries. Sometimes there is so much going on that events get lost.
The next place that will advertise events is our Facebook Page. Click the link or search for username Manitoba Geocaching and ask to be friended.
ALL events need to be published on Geocaching.com's website. So if the first two options aren't showing anything, then head to www.geocaching.com.
On Geocaching.com, click on your username (it says Hello,
If this link is not there for you, then you need to update your address. Scroll down to Account Options on the right and click on 'View Your Account Details.' Look for the Your Profile box on the left side and click edit. Scroll down to Mailing Address and fill in your Country and Province. Save Changes and then click on your username at the top again. Scroll back down to Search Options and you should now see the link.
Click on 'Manitoba'.
You will now see the most recent Geocaches hidden in Manitoba. Upcoming event Geocaches are always listed at the top of this list, with the events that are furthest away on the calendar at the very top.
On an event page, all the necessary details will be explained. Location, time, requirements etc. If you are planning to attend, a good rule of thumb is to click on Log and then enter a 'Will Attend' log. This lets the event organiser know to expect you as they will be keeping track of numbers. Later, after you have attended the event, you can log 'attended'.
So you've chosen to come to an event... now what?
(This is something that will help introverted people. Extroverts, we don't worry about you. You already have no fear of walking up to someone and saying "HEY! HOWZITGOIN!?" You often freak people out, but that's okay, we'll welcome you anyways... especially if you have cupcakes or bacon.)
Show up! Bring cupcakes. Okay, kidding about the cupcakes. (Unless it's a potluck, then cupcakes or Bacon... lots of bacon.) The Geocaching groups are usually easy to spot. Someone almost always has a GPS around their neck. Otherwise, we have a very diverse group of people sharing this adventure. If you're unsure or uneasy about walking up to someone and introduce yourselves, then start by locating the event organiser. You might have to ask a couple of people, but (for introverted people) that is generally easier than shyly trying to mingle people. The event organiser is often quite busy, but they do like to take a few moments to chat (before they are yanked away to put out a fire.) This happens often to the organiser or anyone volunteering at events, don't take it personally, they would much rather share stories, but alas...
Another good ice breaking tip is to look at the 'will attend' logs and click on some of the cacher names. Look to see if they have lots of finds and hides. Go attempt one of their caches, or attempt a puzzle they have. Then come to the event and seek them out to compliment them on their hide (if you found it) or ask for a hint (if they will give it.)
Come out to more events! The more you appear at events, the more people will recognise you and start to seek you out to chat. At events, there are always Geocaching related conversations. Come with questions, people are always willing to help. Come with Geocaching stories about your adventures, we all have them.
Listen for opportunities to go group caching. Often at events, a group of people will organise to go out and find a nearby cache or go find one that has been quite challenging. Sometimes it turns into several hours of 'after-event' caching, which can be loads of fun!
GeoVenture, Cachefest in Dauphin, Country Legends (WestCan5)
What are these and why should I go?
These are multi-event weekend events. Huh? Okay, I'll break it down. There are a series of small events over the course of a weekend which all adds up to a weekend with a name like GeoVenture or Cachefest. (We'll talk about WestCan5 shortly.) You can choose to be a part of everything or just one or two things.
The primary event for these weekend events is the Geocaching challenge. This usually takes place on the Saturday when everyone is given game sheets and the coordinates (or puzzles to find the coordinates) for a number of Geocaches that have been hidden in the surrounding area. (There is driving required.) Challenge events are designed to be completed with a group. Usually 4-5, which is one car load. The diverse talents that a group brings are quite beneficially for successfully completing the challenge in the time allotted.
There are a couple of other challenge events like this held through the year. Cache the Marsh, Cache Like a Pirate, Zoo event... to name a few.
On the weekend events, the 'challenge' is surrounded by other events and is turned into a weekend of camping and other fun activities. Each year is slightly different, but generally includes bonfire events, BBQ Potlucks, Pancake breakfasts and a Sunday CITO (Cache in Trash Out area beautification event.)
There is a lot of fun packed into a couple of days and make for great family events. Dip your toe and participate in just the Saturday activities or jump all in and go camping as well, that is up to you. Barring horrible weather, you can't help but have fun. (Last year's puppet theatre at GeoVenture was a riot. The videos were posted on our Facebook account around May 2014.)
WestCan5... what's that? Simply put, it's all of the above, multiplied by 500 or more people. Westcan5 is designed to be a Mega event, a Geocache event with 500 or more attendees. Mega events are large undertakings and require a strong group of people and a willing community to host a load of people for a few days. Much like some communities host annual festivals, Mega events can draw large crowds. WestCan5 is the first Mega event in Manitoba. This year, Saskatchewan held their first Mega event. Previously, the closest Mega event happened in Minneapolis. (They are hosting another this October.)
Other events that are typically held in Manitoba.
Pub Nights: Held sporadically through the year, these are (usually) adults only events for Geocachers to relax over beer (or coffee) some grub and just talk Geocaching.
CITO events: Cache in Trash Out is an opportunity for Geocaches to give back to the parks we frequent by cleaning up around us.
Potluck events: Christmas Event, the AGM (Annual General Meeting), GeoVenture, CacheFest all have potluck dinners attached to them. Sometimes with a food contest! (Bacon is good.)
Coffee Events: A less formal gathering of people on a Saturday morning to hang out for a short time before getting on with the day. (of caching!)
Flash Mobs: Google this one for yourself. We do them... occasionally.
Read the event descriptions to get an idea of what to expect. Some (like the zoo event, or camping) indicate that there is a cost. Other events, like a pub night, might be fore adults only due to the venue.
Lastly, volunteering... many events are in need of volunteers. While we would always prefer that first time attendees enjoy themselves, we will never turn down a helping hand. You might make some new friends that way! :)
See you at an event near you.