“Do you feel Geocaching has changed over the years?”

Insp Gadget posted a thread over at the frog asking the the question Do you feel Geocaching has changed over the years?, For better or for worse?

There was a time when I answered this as a definite yes.

Now almost four years after that, I think perhaps I was wrong with the specifics as to why I thought that. Geocaching is still the same game: folks hide caches and post the coordinates. Geocaching.com is still the prevailing listing site.

The game, I think is the same.

Sure, there is a plethora of crappy caches now. But the caches six years ago were not necessarily stellar. Looking back through the database confirms that.

Virtuals and locationless caches are gone and to some extent, that actually improves the game.

What has changed is me. My approach to geocaching is a lot different than it was in November 2001. Back then everything about the game was exciting. Every cache contained excitement. Because there were so few of them and I had found even fewer, seeking caches was a new experience every time out. That “new car smell”, as it were, was ubiquitous.

Many years and caches later, there is no “new car smell” for me. It has all been done before. Innovation has been played out. And how could it not? The game only provides for so much. Sure, folks try new containers, employ puzzles, etc., but it doesn’t change the game: using coordinates to find the cache.

There are still new locations to explore (as South Jersey will find out next year), but these places are not unlike the thousands of locations we have traveled to previously for caches.

The excitement because there is a new cache listed is gone. Some will scramble to be the first one to a cache. Another will still try to collect them all. In that, they are enjoying the game in their way.

Right now I am in the mode of placing caches. Presently, that is where the excitement is for me. At some point re-clearing an area may be of interest. The “magic” is gone, however. And that is purely because of me.

I mentioned to Ski not too long ago that things began changing for me with this game when I attended my first event. Two things happened that day:

  1. Folks I did not know recognized me as soon as I walked into the Burger King
  2. Meeting other geocachers removed the anonymity that I thought I had. Because of that, my logs changed.

When Nik came up to me and said, “Hi Fro,” I was spooked. I had never even heard of him before and here he was able to know me. While I came to like Nik, that spooked me. I was uncomfortable being recognized by sight.

As KenDawg is fond of recalling, my logs back then were interesting. There was a community of folks who were caching the same area and enjoying each others exploits. I played into that and wrote in a self-deprecating style. All I did at the time was follow the arrow, which made for interesting tales to share. And share I did.

But once I met all these folks and then began caching with them, my logging style changed. I no longer felt comfortable playing the self-deprecating fool who was just happy to have found a cache. I can’t really explain why this was the case. All of a sudden it seemed that writing about my mistakes was not as easy because I could not write the tall tale as the next two logs would be written “straight” by my caching partners. By no means is this a criticism of my friends. Hardly. It is that because of the way we cached together, I no longer was comfortable writing the way I had. Interestingly, it was that very day when I met some of these folks that I was placed in a most uncomfortable position. The group I was with wanted to split up and use FRS radios to find two caches, but with each of us visiting only one. Groups do things that individuals will not. It bothered me so much that a month later I returned to log the other one myself.

Also, because of the time spent with others on the hunt, the time spent discussing geocaching increased. Because the amount of caching going on was great, the time discussing it was great. Let’s face it, there’s really only so much that can be said about the game. But I examined the minute facets of the game. And in doing so, dwelt upon things that in the grand scheme of things mean little. Doing this obviously rubbed some the wrong way.

Eventually, I bowed out of the community. That has produced interesting results. Once again I have some anonymity. While plenty of folks still know me, I laid low long enough, removed my caching history, and do not participate in the traditional areas that mainstream cachers do, that I do not have that “stalking” feeling as much as I felt at one time.

My logs, mostly kept to myself, seldom return to the whimsical flair they once had. I suspect that is gone for good.

I kept a fantastic pace of finding caches until this year. I have no goals at this point. I do not get geared up to find caches. I am no longer the resident statistician. I couldn’t tell you how many caches I have found. My database is not up-to-date. I have sought caches I have hidden because I do not keep up on things as I once did.

Today is a going to be a gorgeous spring weekend day. Several years ago I would have been out dawn to dusk (or beyond) caching. Today I will not even seek one.

I have branched out to some other GPS games. Personally, I find shutterspot to be a far more interesting game at this point. I have geodashed, played GeoVexilla, participated in the neverending scavenger hunt, etc. So, fun with a GPSr is no longer confined to geocaching.

The most significant change during my caching career, however, has been the birth of my two children. While there may be a time when geocaching with them will be a return to the “new car smell” era, it is not now. I enjoy spending time with my family and at this point, that doesn’t include much time on the trails. That too is a change in me, not the game.

I am not the geocacher I was in 2001. I am not the cacher I was in 2004. I am not the cacher I was in December. I never had anything to prove in the game. I still have opinions about the game, and I am still taking shots from some (including folks who have never met me). This blog is somewhat of a testament to what I hold important about the game. So when I hide a cache, I will still refer to what I consider are characteristics of a good cache. I will still enjoy the company of a caching friend on occasion. I will still keep my distance so as not to bother those who need/want to camaraderie of others without my input.

Geocaching hasn’t changed much over the years, I have. And that, dear reader, has made all the difference.

Also blogged on this date . . .

2 thoughts on ““Do you feel Geocaching has changed over the years?””

  1. I didn’t know you went by the “Frolickin” handle. I remember the name well from back in the days I followed the forums on geocaching.com. I also know you well from GPSgames.org, but I never put two and two together.

    Anyway, I think my geocaching evolution matches yours, although my stats are way below the impressive numbers you probably have.

  2. Man, that was one carpy cache placed next to the Staples Parking lot in 2001!!! And Gladware, to boot. That comes up all the time at the Frog forum, of course there were a handful of carpy caches back then, but they were few and far between. I hear you about the online anonimity you enjoy. You definately lose privacy from posting logs to geocaching.com I don’t feel like looking for it, but about a year ago, someone (a single female if I remember) started a forum thread regarding how horrified they were at what came up searching their GC.com username in Google.

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