Archive for the ‘Find Your Geocache’ Category

Find Your Geocache: Minting Coins

How To Mint Geocoins

So you’ve decided that you want to have your own geocoin minted? Congratulations! Here’s some things to think about before you click “Pay” and put it on your credit card.
Arizona centennial coin

1. Why are you minting coins?

Are you looking for a signature item? To promote or commemorate an event? Unfortunately, you really do need to think about this!

For example, when I minted the EatStayPlay.com geocoins for a business promotion, I never expected to have to produce so many. And the cost really crept up. But, when I had a limited run of 50 Arizona Centennial Geocoins made it was for a specific purpose of commemorating that event.

However, an additional 1,000 collectable “medallions” were made that were not trackable and were sold at events across Yavapai County. (The county lawyers wouldn’t let them be called “coins” because they have no monetary value or “tokens” because they cannot be exchanged for anything. Geez!)

2. Set your budget and timeline

And do this BEFORE you talk to the various mints! If you only have $200 to spend and that’s it you need to know that going in.

And if you decide three weeks before your event that you want coins, well, I can tell you that it’s just not going to happen! It takes far longer to mint new coins than a reorder. I recommend giving yourself at least eight weeks from start to finish, just to be safe.

3. Trackable or collectable?

Trackable will add at least another $1.50 per coin to the cost. I say “at least” because most mints also charge for engraving numbers on the coin itself. Would you rather have fewer coins but they’re trackable or more that are for collections only? Again, think about your answer to number 1.

4. Come up with your sketch and features

Mints can take a rough sketch and produce beautiful coins! But, depending on the complexity of your geocoin it can drastically alter your price. Remember, geocoins do not have to be round either!

Yavapai County Centennial Coin

And you also need to think about things like how many colors of enamel you want, the finish of the coin, texture only versus enamel, how detailed it will be, etc. The mint you work with will have lots of ideas and suggestions for you. But be aware that some options will look amazing and have a price tag to match!

The Arizona Centennial Geocoins are trackable along the side. While the engraving was a bit more expensive, it allowed me to use the same dies for the 1,000 collectable “medallions.”

5. Select a mint

Geocaching.com has a great list of geocoin mints. I recommend contacting a few of them to get prices. Maybe even send them your sketch or artwork to get suggestions. But, be aware that for smaller runs of geocoins some mints charge an artwork fee. You need to be super clear that you are looking for suggestions and a detailed bid.

Then, go with the mint you feel the most comfortable with.

6. Get a finalized quote

Make sure it includes tracking numbers, engraving costs, shipping and handling, artwork fees and anything else you’re concerned about. For trackable coins, I also recommend making sure that the mint will contact geocaching.com on your behalf because all trackable coins must have their designs approved by Groundspeak prior to minting.

7. Decide about payment

Are several geocachers going to go in on the coins? Will you allow the mint to sell your coins (at a profit) in exchange for a few free geocoins? Will an event sponsor foot the bill?

In the case of the Arizona Centennial Coins, I got a start-up loan from the county committee and then sold the coins at my event to pay back the loan and cover the rest of the production costs. But at the end of the day, I still had to put it on MY credit card and then pay it off later!

8. Samples?

I haven’t pulled any samples for my coins that I minted but I know a lot of geocachers swear by them. It’s really up to you. If you’re budget is tight or your unsure how the design will look, then I highly recommend it. Just remember that samples can extend the process 4-6 weeks so allow enough time!

 

Readers Weigh In:

  • What have been your experiences minting geocoins?
  • Why did you mint your coin? How did it go?

Find Your Geocache: Planning a Poker Event

Holding A Poker Run Event

Back when I was organizing my big multi-day geocaching event, I decided that one of the games I would offer would be a poker run. It seemed easy and straightforward. I based it off the AJACS event we attended in 2010.

Here’s a link if you’re wondering What is a geocaching poker run?

Overall, the event went well, but I have some additional ideas and suggestions if you’re thinking of hosting a poker run event of your own.

1. Decide on the ante

I did a 50/50 pot with a $5 per player ante. The overall winner got 50% of the pot. The other 50% went to offset event costs. We had about 40 people at the event but not everyone participated. Some people were turned off that it would “cost” money but I just kept stressing that the event itself was free and the poker run was optional.

$5 ante

2. Decide how many decks

We played with 5 decks and every time a geocacher would ante up, I would assign them to a deck A-E. I went in order figuring that it would be more fair to have 3 players per deck than to have 5 players on Deck A, 5 on Deck B, and 2 on Deck C.

There are 52 cards in a deck and 5 caches of cards placed. So that means 10 choices per cache or a maximum of 10 players per deck.

Poker Registration Form download in Microsoft Excel

3. Decide on prizes

Remember that the best hand in each deck gets a prize so make sure you have enough! I went with $5.00 gift cards to Walmart. I contacted a few of my local business owner friends who each donated money to the event. Then at the event I plugged, Plugged, PLUGGED their businesses. (And sent Thank You cards after!)

4. Decide on the rules

I actually HAD a copy of the poker run rules from the AJACS event so for my event I robbed and duplicated. However, it never occurred to me to specifically outline what actions would be considered cheating. And yes, I did have a geocacher try to cheat. It really surprised me — don’t let it surprise you! Spell out what will happen to cheaters in advance and then don’t be afraid to follow through.

I also put a hard deadline on when the SEALED envelopes needed to be returned. And then I enforced it! I also enforced that the envelopes still had to be sealed.

Poker Run Rules download in Microsoft Excel

5. Invest in 5 good cache containers (ammo cans!) and chain with locks

Let’s face it, a barely hidden ammo can is temptation to EVERYBODY. So take the time and make sure that you chain yours securely so it can’t grow legs for the event.

6. Buy your supplies

One deck will allow up to 10 players so plan accordingly. It would be terrible not to have enough! And you’ll need 52 security envelopesper deck.

(Amazon affiliate links. Don’t be afraid to shop around for the best deals!)
Security Envelopes7. Prep the decks

You’ll need a TON of small security envelopes; 52 per deck. You’ll label 52 envelopes with your deck letter and then number them 1, 2, 3, 4, or 5 for the cache container. Make sure that you put 10 in 3 containers and 11 in the last two.

Remember what I said about cheating? Well, it turns out that by flexing the envelope and holding it to the sun, you can more or less see through the security printing. The solution? FOLD the playing card in half. Is it more work? Yes. But it makes cheating virtually impossible.

8. Brush up on your knowledge of winning poker hands

Here’s a .pdf download from Poker.com that even has PICTURES. I printed a similar list and then brought it with me to the event.

9. Plan how you’ll open and tabulate results

I gathered each hand, labeled the envelopes and stuck a rubber band around it to deal with later. DON’T DO THAT! I was too much work at the end of the event, the geocacher didn’t get to watch me unseal the envelopes (to know I wasn’t cheating either), and then it made calculating hands a nightmare.

What was suggested to me was to get a big cork board and pushpins. Then you’d open the 5 sealed envelopes with the geocacher and pin it to the cork board with their name and deck assignment. That way, everybody could see at a glance what everybody had. I LOVED that idea and will implement it in the future.

Readers Weigh In:
Any other suggestions for a basic, 5-card poker run?

Find Your Geocache: Caching Adventure

International Geocaching Day

The first International Geocaching Day was celebrated on Saturday August 20, 2011. Geocaching.com says that this will be an annual affaire held on the third Saturday of August each year.

If you found a cache or attended an event on 8/20/11 you will get a special souvenir on your profile on geocaching.com. (Souvenirs will be awarded soon but as of today, nothing has appeared yet!)

International Geocaching Day

jeananjoe's EVIL NASTY micro cache is actually hidden in my hand in this photo.

Not only did I drag ESP Boss and The Queen Mother out for a “quick” cache on Saturday, I also celebrated my 100th find. I had been “saving” lucky number 100 for a special occasion…

Okay, not really. I tried to get to 100 two weeks ago when I was caching with Sandy but struck out.

Anyway, not only did I get my 100th find on a very neat day in geocaching history but it was also the first ever micro placed by local caching couple jeananjoe that the EatStayPlay.com “Royal” Family successfully found.

Very cool!

I know every caching area as “THAT ONE” cache hider who is so mean, ruthless, and nigh impossible to find their caches. Well, the micros of jeananjoe are my cache-placing nemesis.

And we found it!

 

Readers Weigh In:

  • Did you participate in International Geocaching Day? What did you do/find?

Find Your Geocache: Swag

In preparation for my big upcoming geocaching event in September, I’ve been going through all my drawers looking for good swag as “seed swag” for the caches I’ll be placing. But, I’d pretty much already done that when I started caching and have placed or traded most of it.

Last weekend I was doing some shopping and decided to look into just BUYING swag. Of course, the toy department at my local Walmart had a ton of selection: for a ton of money! And the toys at the dollar store, while priced better, were just too cheap and boring looking.

Swag

This is the swag in just two and a half bags. We ended up with 7 bags of swag so 70 trade items!

Then, I hit upon it: Goodwill!

Now, I don’t know if every Goodwill store offers toys. Of the two here in Prescott, I think only one does. But it was still worth the trip!

There were about twenty bins attached to a back wall, each filled with a selection of plastic toys. And the sign above the bins:

10 for $1.49
4 for $0.99

ESP Boss & I spent about thirty minutes carefully going through each and every bin. The next result: 7 bags of toys (70 items) for $10.43. It turned out to be a lot less than anywhere else. Plus, I really liked it that I wasn’t driving all over to hit yard sales, the money goes for a good cause, and all the items were in good condition. (They’ll get a bath, though since some were a bit dirty or sticky!)

And, if I had gone in on Saturday (it was Friday) it was a 50% off Saturday. Our Goodwill stores offer specials that every-other Saturday are 50% off everything in the store.

We picked up a large selection of plastic snakes, toys from a variety of fast-food kid’s menus, “army” men that are PIRATES, and a lot of exciting random toys including a bendy Oreo figurine, M&M characters, dinosaurs, and bugs.

So the next time you need seed swag for a cache, think about stocking up at your local Goodwill or other re-sale store.

At these prices, I think that it’s a good idea for ALL cachers to carry a bag of trade with them when they’re caching. Too often the “adult” cachers forget that just because they don’t trade doesn’t mean that they shouldn’t make sure that the caches they visit aren’t full of great trade items.

After all, geocaching is a family activity and kids always enjoy trading for swag. As geocachers we take care to remove any trash, food, or inappropriate items from the cache, but how often do we ensure that the cache is filled with fun trade items?

I know that even after my event, I’ll carry a bag or two of Goodwill goodies to replenish and refresh any caches I visit!

Readers Weigh In:

  • Do you trade for swag?
  • What toys or kid-friendly items do you leave?
  • Do you make it a point to refresh any caches that are in need of swag?

Find Your Geocache: Sandy’s Adventure

Sandy’s First Geocaching Adventure

Last week I wrote about planning the big geocaching adventure for Sandy. It was her very first time ever geocaching but she’d been hearing about it from me all summer long.

Sandy's First Cache

Sandy's First Cache Find!

I decided that we should head to nearby Willow Lake. I chose Willow Lake for three reasons:

  1. There was a high concentration of not-too-difficult caches around the lake. I wanted an area where we would have multiple caches to go after so if we couldn’t find some Sandy wouldn’t get discouraged. Caches near Willow Lake
  2. Heritage Park is pretty busy every day of the week. Two women out alone — well I wanted to be someplace where we wouldn’t be isolated.
  3. It a GORGEOUS area! So I knew that even if caching was a bust there would be plenty of scenery for us to enjoy.

And my bonus reason was that I hadn’t looked for any of the caches there!

We left right after work and of the 7 caches we looked for, we found 6! That’s not too bad for an early evening of caching and especially great for Sandy’s first caching adventure.

Sandy and The Outdoor Princess

By the end of the trip, she was already asking me how much my Garmin cost! Prices have come down quite a bit since I got mine: Garmin Venture HC. That’s a link to Amazon.com

Garmin Venture Hc

Readers Weigh In:

  • What was your first geocaching adventure
  • How long did it take before you were hooked?

 

Find Your Geocache: Adventure Planning

Planning A Geocaching Adventure

ESP Boss has had a great girl working for him this summer. Sandy is a local girl who has been attending ASU pursing a degree in accounting. So, this summer we’ve hired her at the tax office to help out.

In addition to working on a MASSIVE project for a client, she’s also been doing some back-fill for EatStayPlay.com. Mainly, Sandy has been researching the state parks in Utah.

She’ll be heading back to school in a couple of weeks but before she goes back to Tempe, she asked me if I would take her geocaching. Yeah! I love nothing more than introducing a new person to the great game of geocaching.

We’re planning on heading out tomorrow evening, after work, to find some local caches. I’ll be planning the outing tonight (hence the shorter post). Here are some things I’m taking into consideration as I plan this:

1. Size of the cache
Let’s face it, the exciting part of getting started in geocaching is the swag. Every new geocacher is convinced they’re going to find something super cool in a cache. So for Sandy’s first caches, I want them to be large enough to have some good swag.

2. Difficulty
When you’re introducing a new sport or game to somebody you want them to “win”, right? Well for a lot of geocachers, the “win” is the find. I’ll be concentrating on caches that aren’t too difficult to find so she can start to build up her geosense.

3. Letting her do it
When I was camping with my friend Nicole last August, we went after a geocache. And I made a BIG mistake when I was introducing her to the game: I didn’t let her do it. It was a cache I had hid and I was in “maintenance mode” not “encouraging a new geocacher mode. I didn’t let Nicole hold the GPS or make the find. Tomorrow, I’ll be sure to let Sandy do it herself.

Some other things I’m planning are to have the caches pre-loaded into the GPS and the cache pages pre-printed. I know a lot of people do paper-less caching, but I’m not one of them. Also, before we head out, I’ll have her register for a free account on geocaching.com.

Readers Weigh In:

  • What are your tips when you’re taking somebody geocaching for the first time?

Find Your Geocache: Centennial Event

100 Years of Statehood: Arizona’s Centennial Event

I finally have my geocaching event, “100 Years of Statehood: Arizona’s Centennial Event” published on geocaching.com. You can find it at GC30K47

Centennial Logo

I’m still working out a few details like what type of geocaching games we’ll play, but I was at a point where I could post it to geocaching.com and start getting registrations!

The event is being held in Memory Park in Chino Valley. In fact, I’m off to the Town Council meeting in just a few minutes to ask the council to refund the fees we paid to rent the park for the three days. Chino Valley Parks & Rec have been hugely helpful in planning this. They’re letting us camp (not something they usually do) and are arranging so the restrooms at the park will be available throughout the weekend for cachers.

Next on my agenda, besides event promotion is to get a TON of caches ready to go out. We’ll be placing about 30 new caches for the event so I need swag and goodies to fill all those containers. I’ve contacted a local business owner who does promotional items to see if she has any “left-overs” that I could put into the caches for swag.

But, I have some questions for you guys about the caches:

  • Do you see any issues with hiding a variety of cache sizes?
  • What would be good FTF prizes? Do you think that gift cards (donated!) are too hokey?
  • Has anybody had any luck getting people to donate cache containers?
  • How much “seed” swag do you place in a container? I try to fill it up but with 30 new caches to place, I don’t know if that’s feasible!
Um, getting a bit nervous! Any help or advice is appreciated!

Find Your Geocache: Container Maintenance

Geocaching Maintenance

It’s that time of year again. Time for my annual trip to Flagstaff to check on the geocaches I placed there.

Some new geocachers get started, get a few finds under their belt and then decide to HIDE a geocache without ever realizing that there is on-going work associated with it.

Geocaching.com simply says:

  • Owner is responsible for geocache page upkeep.
  • Owner is responsible for visits to the physical location.
geocaches

Geocache containers waiting to be hidden

 

But what does that MEAN? That means that as the cache placer you need to be ready to go check on your cache if you get notes saying that it needs maintenance. Notes might be that the log is wet or full. Or the cache seemed to be either too hard to too easy to located.

In the case of The Quiet Zone GC1X2F5 two years ago a BEAR made off with the cache. Or at least the cache disappeared over the winter. Since I live 200 miles away, I temporarily archived the cache and send a note into the review letting him know that I had a trip planned to check on the cache.

 

EatStayPlay.com "Royal" Family

The EatStayPlay.com "Royal" Family placing The Quiet Zone in 2009

When I went, I went prepared to replace the cache if I couldn’t find it. I replaced the container and updated the coordinates and it was good to go!

As a cache placer, I am responsible for occasional (but regular) visits to make sure everything is a-okay. In the case of caches that are far away from me (like my Flagstaff caches) I have a few caching buddies that I can always call upon to take a quick look if I’m too busy.

And those occasional visits are why geocaching.com requests that caches are not placed while you’re traveling on vacation or for business. If you live a 4 hour plane ride away, how is it feasible for you to check on a cache every time you get a report of a wet log? But, it is possible to place a cache and then have it adopted by a local cacher or to even have a non-geocaching friend maintain it.

If a cache is not being maintained, or has been “temporarily” disabled for an unreasonable length of time, we may archive the listing.

When I’m placing a new cache, I always ask myself these three questions:

  1. How often can I visit?
  2. How easy is it for me to visit?
  3. Do I have time to maintain another cache?

Readers Weigh In:

  • How many geocaches have you placed?
  • How often do you check on them?

Find Your Geocache: Event Planning

 Planning a Geocaching Event

I’m so lucky to have such a great community of geocaching friends who read my blog and subscribe to my newsletter! Thank you so much for all you do.

But, speaking of the wonderful “tribe” I have, I hope you don’t get too frustrated or bored with me because I am working on a series of event-planning posts. I’ll be the first to admit that this is the first major geocaching event we’ve hosted so any and all feedback is greatly appreciated!

GPS

It will be a 3-day event celebrating the kick-off of Arizona’s Centennial Celebrations. Please remember that I’m in the planning stages and need your feedback. Very little is set in stone yet! Here are some of the details:

  • Free event
  • Free camping (tents and limited RVs)
  • 30 or so new geocaches placed for the event
  • Trackable centennial geocoins
  • Ice breaker events
  • Games
  • Catered dinner on Saturday
  • Flash mob

And no, before you ask, it’s NOT published on geocaching.com yet. There are two reasons for that:

  1. I’m working with the Yavapai County Centennial Committee so that just takes a while
  2. I want to get the details ironed out a bit with my geocaching friends (that’s YOU!) before I put it out there for the whole world

Here’s the schedule I’m kicking around right now.

Friday:

  • Sign-in and registration (all day)
  • Geocachers arrive to set up their camping sites
  • Ante-up for the poker run. I’m thinking a 50/50 pot so the winners would get cold hard cash. Maybe a $5 buy-in per team. Play for the poker run begins.
  • Ice breaker games in the evening.

Saturday:

  • Sign-in and registration (all day)
  • Geocachers arrive to set up their camping sites
  • Can still ante-up for poker run. Can also participate in poker run.
  • Locations of new event-related caches are released to event attendees (early morning — depending on sunrise times and temperatures). Gotta be there to get them!
  • Cache all day.
  • Geocachers must return by “dinner time” for new caches to be counted towards awards. FTF, most caches, poker run, etc.
  • Return for evening “awards ceremony” and catered BBQ dinner

Sunday:

  • Games in the morning
  • Be out of the park by 1

Some more notes about events:
We would be in Memory Park. There are no barbeque or picnic facilities at all. The event in co-sponsored by the Town of Chino Valley. It’s not feasible from a staging area to have a potluck or cookout. Plus, since we’re in the town limits we’d need food handler licenses, health inspectors, etc.

The event NEEDS to be in the Town limits because this is the Town’s contribution to the Yavapai County Centennial Celebration.

The catered dinner: according to the survey that I put out a few weeks ago, 83% of cachers would want to pay $16 for all-you-can-eat BBQ, sides & soft drinks. 6% would pay $11 for a hotdog or burger and not unlimited anything. And 1% wouldn’t eat at all.

Dinner would be OPTIONAL. You would need to pre-register and pre-pay so I could get that information and money to the caterer. But you could still participate in ALL events totally FREE. You’d just have to bring your PB&J while I snarf down ribs!

I think that covers all the concerns I got about having a caterer from the survey. Let me stress again: The event is FREE. Nobody will make any money off this event. Buying dinner is OPTIONAL.

Okay, now that I’ve tried to be as clear as possible, let me ask you my questions:

  • Any issues with a poker run for real money? Winners would get cash and the other 50% would be used to pay for Porta-Potties and potable water and trash service.
  • What would be a good ante for the poker run? I want it large enough that the 50% winner’s pot is large but not so large that geocachers don’t want to play!
  • What events would you like to see on Sunday? I’ll admit I’m not sure what we should do?
  • Do you want ice breakers?
  • How much time would you want to spend in-camp versus out looking for the new caches?
  • Would you want to camp or stay in a local hotel? (Or at home, if you’re local)
  • We’re minting 48 Centennial Trackable Geocoins. (Arizona was the 48th state) Would you buy one for $10 or so? Or would you want them as prizes only?
  • Do you want to play “other” games in camp? Suggestions have been toss-the-ammo can (horseshoes), Geocaching Clue, etc.
  • Do you think I need a kids-only game?
  • What else am I missing? What would you suggest?

Thanks guys!

KIM

Find Your Geocache: Event Games

What Are Geocaching Games?

Even though geocaching is a great game in and of itself, there are other “games” that can be played alongside. I’m really interested in this right now since ESP Boss & I are in charge of planning a geocaching event for Arizona’s Centennial Celebration in September.

We’re hosting a 3-day event and will be placing 25-30 new caches. Of course, there will be FTF prizes, prizes for finding the MOST new geocaches, and maybe the most miles logged in a single day of caches.

This will be a sanctioned event by the Yavapai County Centennial committee as part of the centennial celebration. And part of what the committee has been charged with (and by extension US) is to get people out exploring Yavapai County.

Personally, I’m looking for a mix of socializing and caching!

Another idea that we’ve been kicking around is to have a secondary game or games that could be played for prizes as well.

I was originally thinking of having a Poker Run but in my research, I’ve come across some other games like:

Geocaching Bingo
A bingo card is created and you check off each square based off different types of caches.

Bingo Card

This is the bingo card from the Minnesota BINGO Challenge.

 

 

My concern for geocaching bingo is that it seems really involved. Maybe it’s too involved for a 3-day event.

Geocaching Skills Test
Where you would test all the great geoskills you’ve picked up over the years. I attended an event that had a skills test, but I didn’t actually participate. Ideas?

Geo-Ice Breaker
A get-to-know-you type of game where you try to find geocachers who meet XYZ criteria.
Examples might be:

  • Don’t live in Arizona
  • Traveled over 200 miles to attend
  • Have more than 30 hides
  • Have more than 700 finds

Readers Weigh In:

  • In addition to finding caches, what games would you like to play?
  • Has anybody hosted a multi-day event? What types of activities did you offer?
  • What is geo-golf? I’ve seen the term but I don’t know what it is!

 

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