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TOP 10 things to teach a newbie


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I have been asked to give a class on the basics of geocaching. I am very happy to do this and have some ideas in mind, but would ask other cachers what they think are the top 5-10 things to learn right from the start. Looking for constructive information here so that I can start these folks off on the right foot. I don't plan on getting into GPS operation, that is for another class. Just basics on the actual geocaching aspect of the game. Thanks for any ideas. I did not post this in the getting started forum, by the way, because I wanted people who have been geocaching for awhile to give the advice.

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The direct route is often not the best route - stay on a trail as long as possible, since many times it will loop around & get you close instead of bushwacking a long distance.


Travel bugs (and many coins) are for travelling, not for trading. Mention how to know its a travel bug and how to log it - Geocoins meant for travel, too.

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... I don't plan on getting into GPS operation, that is for another class. Just basics on the actual geocaching aspect of the game. ...

Uh yea. That sounds nice, but IMO won't happen. Someone is bound to not know how to enter a waypoint, or how to find a point they've entered, or what 'this' arrow means... :rolleyes:


But to answer your question (in no certain order)


1. Trading, when you find an apporiate cache, trade equal or better. Its a geocache, not a free trinkets box. There are not expensive items in the box, if your looking for that you'll be disappointed. Tell them geocaching is about having fun, finding new places, the hunt/search, spending time outdoors, etc.

Maybe point out the forbidden items.


2. Treat the cache well, and show respect to other cachers (common sense but...). Put the cache back where you got, as exactly as possiable. Please make sure the lid is closed. If you find a problem with the cache, like dampness, container or contents damaged, or they do a good search and can't find it, please report the problem to the owner or on the caches webpage.


3. Travelers, explain what a Travel bug (or coin or hitchhiker) is, how to log them, and to please not keep them! (I'd meantion there are travelers not tracked at gc.com, and to just follow whatever directions are with those travelers)


If the people your teaching haven't cached much, think about bringing in some example caches, either one you made up. Or if you can coordinate with some local cache owners, disable a few of different sizes and go grab the containers for a day. This way the 'class' can read a geocaching logbook. Same for TBs, bring a couple to show so they get an idea of what one might look like.


4. Maybe try to explain the ratings, sizes, types (what they are, what they mean). The problem with this is, will you explain all listing services? or just gc.com? Personally I would just tell them are a number of listing websites but geocaching.com is the largest and probably the one they will use most, then just explain things are related to gc.com. Trying to explain every sites type/size names, what kinds of caches each will/won't list, etc will probably just confuse your class.


Depending on how slow you're going, and how quickly they catch on you might stop or continue on to other things. If you've been rambling for long time the class is probably bored and not listening...


5. Touch on cache hiding. Hiding your own caches is not required, if they hide a cache they are expected to do any required maintaince on it from now till forever... Tell them some parks have specific rules about hiding caches, some do not, they're expected to find out these rules and follow them. Tell them to make sure they read the listing rules/guidelines for whatever site they might list their cache on (again will you focus on gc.com or all sites?) Probably point out things to NOT put in a cache, (possiably a repeat from number 1 depending on the order you present in).


6. A brief explaintion of what GPS is and how the sytem works. Or maybe you would start with this, or maybe if the class actually does know about the GPS system you can skip it.


7. Not really helpful in explaining caching, but you could make a map of showing all of the caches in the area. Tell them how many caches there are in your state, or how many within X miles of the classroom.

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Of course, you have all brought up some stuff I would have forgotten, great tips. I also considered hiding a cache on the property for the class and having them find it, or watch me use my GPS to see how it works would probably save the most time. K.I.S.S. - now that's funny!

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Log your DNF's!


I also read a log today from a first time finder that they left a penknife in the cache.

Trade etiquette as explained above is very important.


Edit: And another thing I would touch on would be stealth. People get excited. I've had a few first timers out with me (my sister being the loudest) who screamed "I FOUND IT!!!" raising the curiosity of every nearby person in the park. Especially on evil muggle micros.....sometimes you should leave them alone and return another day.

Edited by Wayfinders
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I think most newbies don't log DNF's because they are a bit embarrassed that they did not find it, at least the new ones that I have gotten out have said that - so good point. My daughter won't log for that reason, even though she caches very little due to college taking up most of her time, she is not experienced enough and feels "stupid" logging caches she can't find. I will teach them the "use your GPS like a cell phone maneuver" or to tell people you are searching for gypsy moths when getting curious looks or questions. :laughing::anitongue:

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Yeah, I get embarrased too when I can't find one but I don't mind poking fun at myself so I try to post an interesting log and pat the back of the hider....


Another good tip is to double check your coordinates!


I had a great hike on Saturday at GCQ6XY.

A much longer hike than needed!

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Finding a cache:


1. Tread lightly and respect the area surrounding the cache. There is no need for a scorched earth search, overturning boulders, ripping apart tree stumps, etc... If you need to lift a boulder, rock, board or log, carefully replace it the way you found it when you are done.


2. Replace the cache where you found it and hide it in a manner consistent with its difficulty rating. Make sure the lid is closed securely.


3. Respect private property. Do not trespass unless you are certain the owner has permission to place the cache on private property. Look for legal access, or move on to another cache.


4. If you are trading, trade fairly. Don't take a traveler (TB or geocoin) unless you can move it along promptly.


5. Be prepared. Consider the kind of cache you are looking for. If its a 10 mile hike in the mountians or desert, make sure you have enough food, clothing and water.


Hiding a cache:


1. Consider the potential impact of the cache. Try to place it on a durable surface, or someplace where foot traffic won't damage the area flora or cause erosion. Revisit it after a few months to see if it is impacting the area and if it is, move it.


2. Do not dig, damage, or deface in order to place your cache. Consider what park officials might think should they discover your cache. Holes drilled in trees, nails hammered into trees, graffiti, buried containers are all guideline violations and more importantly, could result in our sport being banned if discovered by the authorities.


3. Consider the possiblity of your cache creating public alarm. An ammo box with military markings, or a PVC pipe cache placed in a high traffic area, or where it will accidently be discovered will almost certainly

generate a call to the bomb squad. Even Tupperware in the wrong place can cause alarm. Consider what a passerby will think if he finds your cache, or observes someone looking for it.


4. Obtain permission where its required.


5. Read the guidelines for listing a cache on this website. Don't just check the box saying you did, really read them.


6. Maintain your cache!!!! Respond promptly to reported issues and remove it when you are no longer interested in taking care of it.


I know, that's 11 :anitongue: .

Edited by briansnat
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11, but all excellent points! I hiked in one time almost a mile only to have my GPS go dead, doy... - another good reminder to bring extra batteries. I will probably give them a list of "essentials" for a pack to start off, like make sure to take along about 100 pens and 4 pairs of sunglasses because you are sure to lose them - or is it just me? :anitongue:

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1:How to "join" geocaching.com

2:How to setup geocaching.com for your location

3:How to find caches near your location

4:How to print the cache page, and needed maps to get there

5:How to find a cache out in the wild

6:How to log a cache

7:How/what to trade


9:paperless caching

10:How to hide a cache

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