Useful Help Articles

We hope you will find these selected articles useful. Many are taken from our Seeker Magazine archive. Feel free to look through the past issues yourself where you'll find other helpful articles. We aim to amend these articles as the game evolves and add new ones as time goes on and we publish more issues.

Due to the nature of this page some of the details in these articles will become outdated over time. The webmasters are doing their best to ensure all information is correct, but please let us know if we've missed anything.

Use the contents below to select which help article you would like to read.

Contents

Hints for New Geocachers
Geocaching with Children
Geocaching with a Disability
Geocaching with dogs
The Global Positioning System (GPS) Explained
Geocaching Safely
Are you a liability?
Advice for Dealing with Cows
What do Geocaching Reviewers Look For?
How to Set up New Geocache Notifications for First to Finds (FTFs)
Into stats? Where to begin with Project GC
Organising an Event
Organising a CITO Event


Hints for New Geocachers

By Mrs Blorenge, first published in Seeker 6.

  1. When you find any trackable item in a geocache (that's a geocoin or a Travel Bug ®) make a note of the tracking number on it right away - in a notebook, or by taking a photo. If you make an error in logging it out/into a geocache you can always correct the mistake - as long as you have that vital tracking number! Also, never write that tracking number into your log, or into a public place (like a forum post). The tracking number should be known only by those who've seen the item in real life.
  2. Most geocache owners enjoy reading the log emails from their geocaches. If possible, try and write a sentence (or even two!) when you log the geocache - it's so much more interesting than TFTC TNLNSL. You can mention whether you enjoyed the walk, what you saw on the way, who was with you, the weather, and the condition of the geocache.
  3. If you find a geocache that requires some maintenance by the owner you may choose the ‘Needs Maintenance’ log from the drop-down log options. This is the correct way to let the owner know that something needs doing - It is NOT giving the owner a ‘black mark’ - although occasionally some owners seem to take it that way! If you do an NM log for a geocache you'll also need to do a separate ‘Found it’ log
  4. If you're going out caching for a few hours (especially in a wooded or hilly area) mark where you've parked the car with a waypoint on your GPS! Always carry some form of back up mapping and a compass, electrical items can go wrong.
  5. Swag/Swaps and Trading. You don't have to take anything from geocaches, many geocachers never bother with it, but children often enjoy small items and occasionally you may find something you'd like to keep. PLEASE TRADE UP, OR EVEN! Teach the young ones this too. Try and leave the geocache contents as good (or better) than you found them. Don't leave any edible items in a geocache and never leave anything that could be dangerous if an unattended child found it.
  6. Spoilers! Please don't give away too much info about the geocache, its hiding place, or the geocache container (if it's something unusual). Think about how you'd feel if you'd lovingly created some interesting/clever/ cunning surprise for the geocache finder, only to have someone put in their log, “Wow. Loved the artificial armadillo. How did you manage to get it 10ft up that Canadian spruce?” Similarly, if you add a photo, please think about just how much it reveals. Groundspeak have now given COs the ability to delete any photo from a log if they feel it's a spoiler but, with a bit of forethought, such situations needn't happen.

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Geocaching with Children

KidsFirst published in Seeker 4.

Geocaching with children can be an unforgettable experience. It can give them a local history or geography lesson, and develop their social interaction, as well as their puzzle-solving skills.

However, geocaching can become a very frustrating experience for children if they don't manage to find a geocache. To make sure this doesn't happen to your family, consider the following:

  • Start by looking for geocaches with a lower difficulty rating. We suggest 1 to 1.5 stars. The difficulty rating is listed on each geocache page as well as on the search results page.
  • Look for larger geocaches. In addition to being easier to find, larger geocaches are more likely to contain items for children to trade. The geocache size is shown as a graphic on each geocache page as well as on the search results page.
  • Read the geocache description and any hints so that you have some idea of what to search for at the geocache coordinates. For more of a challenge, bring along the hint, but don't read it unless you really need it.
  • One more thing: if you find the geocache before your children, don't admit to it. Instead, prompt your children to search in the correct location, so that they find it rather than you.
  • Finally, take photograph of your children with the geocache container, and post it with your log for them, and everyone, to see.

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Geocaching with a Disability

By Colin of the Wobbly Club; first published in Seeker 7.

My wife Daphne and I are both leg disabled so this makes geocaching rather challenging for us both. We can't climb stiles or steep banks and are limited in the distance we can walk.

Before any caching trip we do some research of the area using Ordnance Survey maps, Memory Map and Google Earth to see if stiles, kissing- gates, steps, etc., may block our way. If the geocaches are located on a byway we may attempt to drive to them, but not if they are on restricted byways or bridleways. Our latest acquisition is two car transportable/folding mobility scooters which we've named George and Georgina, and both are Travel Bugs ®. They had to be small and light enough for us to get them in and out of our small hatchback car by ourselves.

For our first trip with the mobility scooters, we decided that the “Wander in Wilcot” series by Foxonthescent might be suitable. We contacted the geocache owners who confirmed that there should be no problems for us. Off we set on a nice sunny day and were soon parked up and ready to go. We managed to negotiate the farm tracks, slopes and the very bumpy canal towpath. We would never have been able to walk this series. We managed to access some beautiful countryside, which without our mobility scooters we wouldn't have been able to do.

When travelling slowly along the canal bank, it was amazing how many people on narrow boats spoke to us and commented that they'd never seen our type of transport on the towpath before. The only thing we had to consciously keep an eye on was the power remaining in the small batteries. On getting back to our car with power to spare, the total distance travelled was around 31⁄2 miles, and all the geocaches found. Since that first day, we've travelled down old railway tracks, restricted byways, farm tracks, public paths, public parks and around towns and villages.

A disability should be no barrier whatsoever to you getting out into the countryside and enjoying yourself. While we're out Geocaching and following that little arrow we don't think of our problems at all. Without the mobility scooters we couldn't take part in this fantastic game of Geocaching and would just stay at home. Disability doesn't have to be about things you can't do, but, with a little bit of encouragement, about the things you can do. Give it a go; you have nothing to lose and everything to gain.

For more information on geocaching with a disability, take a look at Handicaching.com.

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Geocaching with dogs

By Chequerdog (Linzi and Dan); first published in Seeker 20.

Have you ever tried searching for caches with your dog? Most dogs that like a game, especially Gundogs and Terriers, are good at finding cache containers. It is not difficult to train a dog to find a given scent as long as the dog responds to rewards, but the difficulty with geocaching is that there are very few specific scents except for Tupperware, perhaps. You can however train your dog to locate articles bearing human scent, or those that are simply alien to the natural environment.

A dog’s sense of smell is truly fantastic but you have to bear in mind that there are limitations such as location, i.e. where the container is not accessible, or where it has not been found or disturbed for an extended period.

The basic training method is to hide objects on a walk without your dog’s knowledge. When your dog is introduced to the area, the natural tendency is for the dog to show interest or investigate the ‘foreign’ object. The trick is to reward your dog immediately when it shows interest, ideally delivering its toy onto the hidden object and have a big game with it. You will not need to repeat this many times before the dog will enthusiastically search out hidden objects.

Geodogs You will need to think up a command that you give the dog as a trigger to start searching, for example use the word— ‘Where?’—as you set it to search. As with all training, consistency is fundamental, so you must use the same command said in the same way as a trigger for the dog to search. Once your dog understands the game, you will then need other people to hide objects or, failing this, use disposable plastic gloves to handle the objects that do not belong to you and which do not have your scent on them. There is no value in teaching your dog to search for your scent when ultimately you want your dog to search for caches placed out or handled by others.

Snippet by Leonards193; first published in Seeker 26. Make sure you check out the whole article by clicking the link.

Dogs provide good companionship whilst out walking too, adding a sense of security should you be out in the dark too. Most country pubs have an area where dogs can go in to rest and some even provide water bowls and dog biscuits.

One thing to consider though is the fact that dogs run around and dart off to explore, so if you are planning on walking a good few miles bear this in mind as your geodog will walk much further that you overall.

Respecting the Countryside Code whilst out with dogs is important too, closing gates, keeping dogs on leads where necessary and of course, picking up after them.

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The Global Positioning System (GPS) Explained

By Terry Marsh, first published in Seeker 6.

For aeons, man has looked to the sky to calculate his whereabouts. Traditionally, the sun and the fixed stars have been our guides. But today constellations of man- made satellites have taken over as signals to guide our way.

GPS satellites orbit the earth at around 11,000 miles above it, travelling at around 7,000mph, and principally serve as a navigational system for military operations, but increasingly for shipping and travel activities. The GPS takes readings and measurements from up to twenty- four satellites, and uses these to calculate the location of the GPS device. It is rare to get pinpoint accuracy, but for the purposes of geocaching this is not wholly necessary, as part of the fun is the ‘hunt’, once you get close.

GPS The satellites transmit radio signals that are used by GPS devices to locate the position of the device. Satellites orbit the earth in just under twelve hours and are powered by solar energy. Each satellite sends out a unique signal that communicates with your receiver, allowing it to compute the distance to the satellite and so work out the location of the receiver. The satellites are A display on the device shows how many satellites are system, Beidou, became being connected with. You need contact with at least four satellites to operational, as part of a get a clear 3-D fix on location and altitude. Fewer than this and you get only a 2-D fix, but this, in general, is not a critical issue for geocaching to 35 satellites offering unless you are seeking geocaches concealed on mountain summits.

Anyone can use the satellite system; it is completely free. The system has long been used by aircraft and shipping, but increasingly it is being used by surveyors, map-makers, conservationists, the mobile phone network, emergency services, walkers and motorists.

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Geocaching Safely

First published in Seeker 19.

The following guidance about walking comes originally from West Dorset Council, offering advice and tips on staying safe. It applies equally well to any excursion into the countryside.

  • Stay safe and follow warning signs
  • Warning and path closure signs are there for your safety. Please pay attention to them and avoid any informal paths as they may be treacherous.
  • Landslides and rock falls can happen quickly and without warning, especially following severe weather. People are advised not to walk or climb over debris.
  • In an emergency dial 999 or 112. If you get into difficulty it is important the emergency services can locate you quickly so keep an eye out for location or grid reference signs along pathways.
  • Be prepared before you go - before the off plan your walk. It is important to know where you are going, how long it will take and what you can expect to find on your route.
  • Remember to tell someone where you are going and what time you expect to be back, especially if you are travelling alone. Mobile phone coverage can be patchy in many places along the coast or in secluded areas of the countryside.
  • If you are walking across beaches always check tide times before you leave. The tide can come in quickly and without warning, and it is very easy to get cut off.
  • Check the weather forecast before you go and wear appropriate clothing and footwear. Always be ready for possible changes in weather.
  • Take plenty of food and drink. Fluids are especially important if travelling in hot weather.

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Are you a liability?

By Dave Palmer, first published in Seeker 25.

One regular question that pops up when permission to place a Geocache is asked of a landowner, is about liability in the event of an accident. As of yet there is no definitive answer, just a ‘Best Understanding’ of the legal situation.

At the end of the day, every geocacher should be constantly making their own health and safety assessment, but as we are all aware, accidents can still happen.

“The following is not legal advice, but is based on the best understanding of the legal situation”

I became a Volunteer Reviewer for Geocaching.com in 2006, before that, my colleagues had been given unofficial advice, from someone in the legal trade, as regards to liability for landowners and cache setters. This advice was not “Official” legal advice, as the person had not been employed to give such. So, to protect himself from liability, it was on a “Best Belief” basis.

The issue has never been challenged in a Court of Law in the UK, and the only known attempt to make a claim for personal injury, again in the UK, was dropped by the person making the claim and the Personal Injury Claim company. Best belief is that provided the landowner has taken reasonable care over potential risks, such as fencing off/capping mine shafts, fencing off steep drops, it is up to each person to make their own assessment and in doing so accept any potential risks of harm and injury.

Where land is open to the public, subject to the above proviso, the landowner will be covered by their own liability insurance, though where a geocache involves the finder putting themselves at risk – such as the need to climb a tree – the landowner might wish to query their insurance provider.

Geocacher owners in regards to liability... again Best Belief is that subject to not providing equipment or routing advice, the person searching for the container is obliged to make their own assessment of “all” risks. And by doing so, take personal responsibility for their actions.

As regards unsecured risks such as mine shafts or unfenced cliff paths along a route to a geocache that the geocache owner is aware of, best practice would be to advise searchers of any such risks in the geocache description; actual locations need not be mentioned, just that the hazard is present, allowing the searcher to make their own assessment before and along the route.

The Groundspeak Disclaimer on each cache page is specifically there to protect Groundspeak, its employees and volunteers, and would have to be challenged in a Court in Seattle, Washington State, as that is the jurisdiction agreed to in the sites TOU. So, this is not legal advice, but is a simple ‘Best Belief’ statement. And until such time that a decision is made in a UK Court of Law, a definitive statement of the liabilities of geocaching in the UK does not exist.

Summary:

In essence, what this is saying, much as we might expect, is that while searching for a cache, you take responsibility for your own actions.

But it is worth expanding this theme a little by incorporating advice given by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs on the subject of managing public access, open access and public liability.

The following comments relate more specifically to your presence on land, for whatever reason: so, in a wider context it’s good to know, too.

A landowner’s liability towards visitors:

The Occupiers Liability Act 1957 sets out the duty of care a landowner owes to visitors, i.e. people they invite or permit to use their land, whether expressly or by implication.

The landowner must take reasonable care that these visitors will be reasonably safe doing whatever it is the landowner has invited or permitted them to do on their land. Where adults willingly accept risks on behalf of themselves and anyone immediately in their care (e.g. children) the landowner has no duty to protect them from these risks, and would not be liable for any damage or injury they sustained as a result. Formal agreements to use land for potentially dangerous activities (such as climbing) often spell this out.

A landowner’s liability towards people who are not visitors:

The Occupiers Liability Act 1984 sets out the duty of care landowners owe to people they have not invited or permitted to be on your land, such as trespassers. Normally, they still owe such people some duty of care if:

  • They know there is a danger, and know that people may be in (or come into) the vicinity of the danger or in either case have reasonable grounds for believing this to be so.
  • The risk is one against which the landowner may reasonably be expected to offer some protection.
  • Where these criteria apply, the landowner has to take reasonable care that people do not suffer injury on their land, and may be able to discharge this duty of care by warning people about a danger (e.g. with a notice), although this may not always be enough. For example, some extra precautions may be needed if the landowner has reason to believe unsupervised children are likely to use your land.
  • Again, this duty of care does not apply to risks that adults willingly accept on behalf of themselves or those immediately in their care.

A landowner’s liability towards people on Countryside and Rights of Way (CROW) Act access land:

There is a reduced level of liability whenever CROW access rights are in force. The higher duty of care under the Occupiers Liability Act 1957 does not apply at all towards people exercising the CROW access rights, although it does still apply as explained above to those invited or expressly permit to be on the land.

Even the lower duty of care to non-visitors, under the Occupiers Liability Act 1984, is further reduced as follows:

Unless the landowner sets out to create a risk, or is reckless about whether a risk is created, they owe no duty and cannot be sued for any damage or injury caused by(a) any natural feature of the landscape (including any tree, shrub, plant, river, stream, ditch or pond, whether natural or not), or (b) people passing over, under or through any wall, fence or gate, except by proper use of the gate or a stile.

Although the landowner could still be sued by someone exercising the CROW access rights in respect of other types of injury or damage, the court in deciding whether the landowner owed a duty of care, and if so what duty of care was owed, under the Occupiers Liability Act 1984 would be required to have particular regard to: n the fact that the CROW access rights ought not to place an undue burden (whether financial or otherwise) on the landowner; the importance of maintaining the character of the countryside, including features of historic, traditional or archaeological interest; and any relevant guidance given by the Countryside Agency under CROW section 20.

Remember these special liability arrangements apply only while CROW access rights are in force. They don’t apply, for example while the CROW access rights are exclude or restricted; or on land where CROW access rights do not apply at all, even if it has open access under other rights or arrangements.

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Advice for Dealing with Cows

By Terry Marsh; first published in Seeker 18.

Each year there are reports of cases where people have been attacked, or even trampled to death, by cows whilst out walking. Every instance of injury such as this is regrettable, so what can you do to ensure this doesn't happen to you.

CowsMost walkers are instinctively wary of bulls, but few realise that cows, particularly those with new-born calves, can also be dangerous. In virtually all reported cases, the cows are believed to have been trying to drive off dogs accompanying walkers, in order to protect their young. While attacks of this nature are relatively rare, Health and Safety Executive figures show that almost 500 walkers have been injured by cows in the past eight years.

The countryside is a great place to exercise dogs, but it's everyone's duty to make sure their dog is not a danger or nuisance to farm animals, wildlife or other people. By law, farmers are entitled to destroy a dog that injures or worries their animals. So, dog walkers should keep their dogs on their lead at any time of the year when near farm animals, especially during lambing times. However, it's really important to be aware that there will circumstances when this could prove to be the wrong advice - see below.

There is, too, what is known as the ‘Cows Clause’. Under the Wildlife and Countryside Act it is an offence (subject to some important exceptions) for the occupier of a field crossed by a right of way to cause or allow a bull to be at large in it. The exceptions are (a) bulls not more than ten months old, and (b) bulls, not of a recognised dairy breed, and which are at large with cows or heifers. It is also an offence to keep a bull of a recognised dairy breed (even if accompanied by cows/heifers) on land crossed by a public right of way. In my experience, farmers observe this legality (although there may always be an exception), so you don't have to learn to identify dairy breed bulls - but they are Ayrshire, British Friesian, British Holstein, Dairy Shorthorn, Guernsey, Jersey and Kerry. Even so, while farmers generally do observe the law, that doesn't stop you from feeling intimidated should you find a bull in a field you have to cross.

By law, you must keep your dog under effective control so that it does not disturb or scare farm animals or wildlife. That italicised word is important. In my days as a national park warden in both Snowdonia and the Lake District I've challenged people about the behaviour of their dogs. They always replied that it was under control, even when it plainly wasn't - many dogs go deaf when they see sheep, or lakes and rivers to swim in. Cows and sheep don't understand ‘play’. My reply was always the same: “Okay, but put it on a lead and set an example to others.” A cow will often become aggressive towards a chasing dog, and when the dog returns to its owner, a cow or a group of cows may rush towards the dog and owner.

On most areas of open country and common land, known as ‘Access Land’ you must keep your dog on a short lead on most areas of open country and common land between 1 March and 31 July, and all year round near farm animals. You do not have to put your dog on a lead on public paths, as long as it is under close control. But as a general rule, keep your dog on a lead if you cannot rely on its obedience. If a farm animal chases you and your dog, it is safer to let your dog off the lead - don't risk getting hurt by trying to protect it. Take particular care that your dog doesn't scare sheep and lambs or wander where it might disturb birds that nest on the ground and other wildlife - eggs and young will soon die without protection from their parents.

At certain times, dogs may not be allowed on some areas of Access Land or may need to be kept on a lead. Please follow any signs. Some pointers:

  • Avoid walking directly through the middle of a herd of cows if possible. Plan a route across the field before you get too far into it, especially if cows are lying down on the path. Keep an eye open for cows (with or without young) that have got themselves separated from the main herd, e.g. by feeding in a ditch, and try to avoid walking between the cow and the herd. Stay as calm as possible and try to give off the impression that you are not a threat. If you're not happy, retreat.
  • Make sure cows see you as you are approaching, so that you do not surprise them. Due to the placement of their eyes, cows do not have a straight-ahead line of sight. So make sure they hear your voice, and have an opportunity to move before you are too close. I usually clap my hands a couple of times, and (for reasons I can no longer remember) call out ‘Cush’; that usually does the trick. I don't know why.
  • Walk well clear of calves, as a mother will instinctively protect her young. See if you can figure out which calves belong to which mothers; they are usually close together. Don't get between mother and calf, if you can avoid doing so.
  • Resist the temptation to pet cows and calves, no matter how cute they may seem.
  • If cows come towards you as a group, they may simply be curious. Remain calm and continue walking on quietly, trying to pass around them without making any sudden movements or loud noises. Cows will usually leave you alone once they realise you are not a threat.
  • If you detect an aggressive cow or a threatening group of cows, keep moving calmly and avoid direct eye contact. Keep your body facing the cow; do not turn your back to the animal, or run.
  • Finally, if you encounter cows when you are with a partner or as a group of walkers, stay close together to project a larger presence, and make sure that you move together in a careful and calm way.

There will always be exceptions; every herd of cows behaves differently. Just remember: if you're not happy, backtrack...geocaches can wait for another day.

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What Geocaching.com Reviewers Look for?

By Dave Palmer; first published in Seeker 24.

A few things that get checked when a geocache you hide is submitted for review on Geocaching.com:

Geocache Location

  1. Are the coordinates correct?
  2. Are they in the Region that they have been submitted under?
  3. Do the coordinates fit the description? e.g. if the description indicates the location is an urban one, but the coordinates are out in the countryside?
  4. Are they in a location which has a Landowner ban, or in the middle of a motorway?
  5. Is there a Landowner Agreement in place?
  6. Is the location a Nature Reserve, Site of Special Scientific Interest, a Scheduled Monument (it is interesting to note, Wales alone has over 4,500 Scheduled Monuments, the vast majority of which are not visible on the ground)

Proximity

Is the geocache location or component location of a Multi/ Puzzle/Letterbox Hybrid geocache a physical item placed by the Geocache Owner (CO)? In other words, is there a container or tag or anything owned and placed by the CO at the location. This has ‘proximity protection’: there is some leeway for reviewers over the proximity guideline, but this does not mean that just because a geocache is published below the minimum distance (0.1 miles/161 metres), another geocache will. Each is judged on its own merits.

Description

  1. Is there any sort of commercial mention or product mention? Ultimately, Geocaching.com is a commercial product owned by Groundspeak. Mentioning another business or product is considered to be advertising, even though the Geocache Owner has no commercial interest in the business or product.
  2. Is there anything that is offensive? - Geocaching is, after all, a family friendly hobby.
  3. Not checked: spelling and grammar.

Is the location safe and appropriate?

This is possibly one of the hardest things to take on-board as a reviewer. It is up to each geocache owner and geocacher searching for the listing to make their own health and safety assessment.

What is looked for is the possibility of a geocacher's actions causing issues for a muggle, therefore causing knock-on issues for the hobby. While a geocache under a bridge over a river might be published, a geocache involving climbing on the side of the bridge, and so causing a distraction for a passing motorist, probably would not.

A lot of issues can be avoided by using common sense, understanding the guidelines, and above all working with the local reviewer, who will point out any issues and what needs to be rectified. If you wish to query a location with a Reviewer, create a new geocache page, but ‘Do Not’ submit it for Reviewer. Contact the local Reviewer, clearly explaining the nature of your query, and the GC Code for the Listing. They will then be in a position to use the whole toolset available to them to do checks for you.

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How to Set up New Geocache Notifications for First to Finds (FTFs)

First published in Seeker 24.

Please note you have to be a premium member of Geocaching.com in order to access this feature. The facility to receive notifications of new geocaches, in particular new geocaches near you, is especially useful if you want to join the FTF chase, or simply like to attend events.

  1. From ‘Your profile’ page select ‘Set up notifications’ from the right-hand menu. Then, on the ‘Instant Notification Service’ page, select ‘Create a new notification’.
  2. Give your notification a name - such as ‘New caches’ - and then choose a type of geocache to watch by selecting from a drop-down menu - such as ‘Traditional Cache’.
  3. An additional list now appears with 13 options. If you want to receive notifications only of new geocaches, simply select ‘Publish listing’.
  4. You need to select the co-ordinates which form the centre of the geocache search area. This will default to your home co- ordinates, but you can reset it to a new location if you are searching for geocaches away from your home location.
  5. Set the distance from your home co-ordinates that you want to receive information about; the default is 20km, and this is probably quite enough if all you want to do is look for geocaches near home. But increase the range if you are prepared to travel a bit farther.
  6. Check ‘Enable notifications’.
  7. Select ‘Create notification’.

You will now receive an email every time a new geocache meeting your criteria is published. If you want more than one type of geocache, then set up multiple notifications.

You can go a step further, and ensure that notifications are texted to you, so that you can realise that a geocache is published sooner - giving you an even greater chance of a ‘First to Find’.

  1. First, find the email address associated with your phone number: search the internet for ‘Email-to-SMS’, followed by the name of your mobile service provider. You should be able to find details regarding how your service provider configures their email-to- SMS addresses. The address will typically be your ten-digit phone number followed by some version of ‘@MobileCarrierName.com.’
  2. Sign in to your Geocaching Premium account and visit your Account Details page. Find the box that says ‘Your Validated E-Mail Addresses’ and click on ‘Change’.
  3. Enter your Email-to-SMS address and your Geocaching.com password. Click ‘Add Email Address’.
  4. A text message that includes an email account validation link will be sent to your phone. Click on the link to validate (to do so, you will need to have internet access on your phone).
  5. Visit the Instant Notification page to add a new notification, as outlined above.
  6. Select your Email-to-SMS address in the ‘Send to’ dropdown.
  7. You're ready to go.'

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Into stats? Where to begin with Project GC

By Magnus Månsson / ganja1447, first published in Seeker 19.

Project-GC is an online web service that is meant to help geocachers in both fun and useful ways. We do this by providing both geocaching statistics and helpful tools.

The site is connected to Geocaching.com using their LIVE api and you need to authenticate your account to get access to most of the content. The parts that are visible without authentication are more like teasers. Note that the authentication method is created by Groundspeak and that your credentials are never sent to Project-GC.

I actually started to build on the site over 3 years ago. Back then the idea wasn’t really what it turned out to be. I was mostly building off- line tools for myself. Primarily I wanted Profile statistics that updated themselves and I was also looking into notification emails that actually had some cache information in them. I wasn’t really satisfied with the solutions that already existed. I was quite new to geocaching and didn’t know many geocachers. But with time I met more and more of them out there, and I started to understand that Top Lists were an interest for many of them. I changed direction a bit and started to build what others wanted, leaving my own things behind.

The site was officially announced by Groundspeak in April 2012. I received a lot of traffic, something I wasn’t prepared for and the site was overloaded for two days. Now almost two years later it’s another chapter. The site isn’t running on one computer as it did back then. It’s a small server cluster serving the needs to everyone that wants it.

The Profile statistics are based on the FindStatGen for GSAK, but with the advantage that you do not have to install any software to use them, and they are also automatically updated. We even provide an option to have them automatically updated at Geocaching.com. Look at this example of the Profile Statistics. So, why not check your own statistics out.

Project GC logo I mentioned earlier that the site assists in both fun and useful. When I say fun, I am mostly thinking about statistics, which in one way is quite useless, but also fun and interesting. The Profile Statistics above are mostly for fun, even though they can be useful in some cases. For example checking if you fulfil a challenge cache. In my opinion they can also be useful in the way that they can provide every geocacher with their own goals.

There are a lot of other top lists at Project-GC and everything is dynamically generated. That means that instead of having static top lists created by someone, you can combine different filters to find out exactly what you are looking for yourself. An example could be, “Who from France has found the most Multi-caches in Germany with difficulty 3 or higher?”

Several of my friends are doing everything they can to complete as many D/T loops as possible. And now we are getting in touch with one of the cases where Project-GC actually has some helpful tools as well. If I want to look into which D/T ratings I am missing to complete my next loop. I can use this tool. I can even change it to show which caches I need for the loop after that, so that I don’t miss anything when I am out there.

Another very popular tool is the Map compare. This was one of my earlier creations, and it’s quite useful if you want to go geocaching with a friend. You can add the name of yourself and your friend and the tool will then show you which caches neither of you have logged. I use it quite a lot myself. As mentioned earlier, everything is dynamically generated and you can filter out a lot of things. So you can even use this tool to find out which T5 caches none of you have logged for example.

There are several other tools available, some of the smaller ones that really are worth mentioning are:

  • Find bad logs – A tool that helps you find double logs, or cases where you have logged your own cache and so on. (Visit Link)
  • Needs Maintenance – A tool that looks into caches you own and tries to find those that seems to have issues. (Visit Link)
  • Map Hidden date / Hidden month – Something that can help you if you want to completed the placed date or placed month charts that can be found in the Profile Statistics. (Visit Link) and (Visit Link)
  • Map regions / Map counties – A helpful tool if you want to log at least on cache in every region/county in a country. (Visit Link) and (Visit Link)

There are plenty of more tools than those, I just wanted to tell you about some of them. Worth mentioning is that some of the functions of Project-GC are for paying members only. The last 3 tools mentioned above actually are for paying members only, but most of the content at Project-GC is free. If you find the site interesting and feel that you use it a lot, then I would suggest that you take a look at this, maybe you will feel that there are functions that you believe is worth paying for.

Finally, I would like to talk about the Challenge checker system. This is actually not 100% done yet, and there aren’t many checkers out there. Mostly for Sweden and Czech Republic I think. The idea is that users (with some programming knowledge) should be able to create checkers and helpful tools for all the Challenge caches out there in the geocaching world. The system itself works but there are some redesigning to do to make it smoother to use, especially when creating scripts. The scripts are created within a LUA sandbox and currently you have to ask for access to be able to upload scripts. Contact us if you are interested.

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Organising an Event

First published in Seeker 29.

Geocaching events are a fun way of getting together with other cachers and finding out how others go about caching. They are typically friendly, welcoming and safe. If you’ve never been to one, why not look on GAGB’s events page for one that’s coming up soon and is fairly near to you?

If you’ve been to a few events and are starting to think about maybe (possibly) considering hosting an event (perhaps...) then I’d like to encourage you, and provide a few tips.

What sort of event?

  • An event can be a simple, easy-to-organise evening in a pub. These are fairly low-maintenance – get a dozen or two geocachers together in a pub or café for an afternoon or evening and things will pretty much run themselves.
  • An event can mark ‘some where’ or ‘some when’ special – sunrise on the solstice? A birthday party for some ‘eccentric’ cacher who wants to invite strangers along! The anniversary of a battle. These take a bit more effort on your part – be ready for questions, enthusiastic far-travelled folk, and so on.
  • An event can be anything, really. To attract folk make it interesting but let your imagination go.

Organising your event

  • Plan your event up to 90 days ahead - the longer the better, so local cachers get a greater chance of seeing that it’s coming. At minimum, it must be two weeks or more. Carefully choose the day, too—who do you want to attract? Midweek or weekend?
  • Talk to the owner, landlord, manager. Make sure it’s someone in charge, and that they are clear with you on limits – max number of people, designated area, car parking, noise, food orders, whatever they say, goes! State such requests in your listing.
  • List the event - with the times, location, parking and any other useful info like a link to a menu, or the venue phone number. If there are restrictions, please do state that too. For most people the listing will be the only info they check, so make it right.
  • Check your date - is there any other event nearby al- ready? Groundspeak discourages events on the same day in the same area (up to 20 miles), so look online or ask your reviewer . If there’s a clash, maybe adjust your plans or list the event elsewhere.
  • Write your cache page for Geocaching.com, Opencaching.uk or Terracaching.com. For the former, ensure that you review the event guidelines. Then create your listing. Even if you don’t submit it yet, once you save it you can share it with your reviewer, and they can see that it's coming up.

Longer events: if you can reasonably expect that people need to book an evening away to at- tend (eg a 3-night camping event on some remote island!), you can ask for your event to be published up to 180 days ahead. You’ll get just one listing (‘smilie’) for the entire event, of course!

After the event: soon after your event has finished change your event to be ‘disabled’. Then after about two weeks ‘archive’ the event. This is so that other cachers don’t get a confused map. Re- member to check that all trackables have been removed from your event before archiving.

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Organising a CITO Event

By Jamie Douglas; first published in Seeker 35.

So, what do you need to do to organise a CITO?

Firstly, decide what type of CITO you want to hold. There are many different types (see column overleaf), and there’s certain to be something that needs doing in one of your local parks or green spaces.

Secondly, speak to the local council, park ranger, or whoever is responsible for the land. This can be the daunting part of organising it, but all you need to do is explain what geocaching is, then tell them that sometimes, you hold events to help out in the community.

For example, if it’s a litter-pick you’re organising, contact the council and ask to speak to whoever is responsible for litter-picking. In the case of balsam- bashing, it could be the council, or a local park ranger. If you’re not sure of the best person to contact, the council will usually know who is responsible for the land. Whoever you contact, they are very likely to be supportive of your event, given that it will be helping them out.

GAGB CITO

In addition, they are likely to be able to help with any equipment needed—such as litter pickers, rubbish bags, or in other cases, things such as gloves. They will also normally arrange to take away any rubbish collected (don’t forget about this!), and when doing tasks such as balsam bashing or coppicing, you can usually arrange for someone to be there to direct volunteers.

Occasionally you may need to provide your own litter-pickers or rubbish bags, but these are usually quite cheap (I found litter-pickers at my local pound store for £1.50 each). If the council or rangers aren’t able to provide equipment, make sure you state on the event page for cachers to bring their own, but also have a few spare for people who forget, or don’t have any.

Depending on who is responsible, they may require you to fill in a form to say who you are and what you’ll be doing. Occasionally they’ll also require people to have read a health and safety briefing (especially for litter-picks), but you can either put this information on the event description page, or read it out at the event itself.

As with a normal pub event, once you’ve arranged a time and date with them, all you then need to do is create the event page, with all the relevant details on.

On the day, turn up a bit early to welcome people and to meet the park ranger or council employee, if one is coming along to help. You’ll find that, even if you only have half a dozen of you, you’ll soon get lots done, and after an hour or two you can stand back and admire your handiwork, then maybe retire to a local pub afterwards!

Although CITOs are a little bit more work to organise than normal events, they are a lot more satisfying to take part in, and help to create a positive impression of geocachers with local councils and other landowners. And you may even make a good contact for the next time you want to place a box in your local park...

Types of CITO

  • Litter Pick: A common type of CITO event. Easy to organise and you see visible results once completed.
  • Balsam Bashing: Another fairly common type. Himalayan Balsam is an invasive plant, but very shallow-rooted, so it is easy to pull up. This type of event is also ideal for kids to help at.
  • Coppicing: This is a traditional method of woodland management. It’s perfect for those who like using loppers, saws, and chopping things down, but they don’t happen everywhere. Park rangers will know if they have any areas which need coppicing.
  • Planting: This can be planting any number of things, from bulbs to hedges or trees.
  • Other types include... fence building, woodland walkway construction, painting outdoor facilities, and anything else that helps improve or conserve the natural environment!

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