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FTF Etiquette

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Is it possible that these FTF hounds are unaware of local traditions since they are new in town? In my neck of the woods there are lots of caches named after other cachers, but almost none of them were (to my knowledge) considered tributes intended to be found first by the honoree. The ones I know about that were that kind of tribute weren't published until the honoree found them.

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Why is anybody surprised that people will run out to FTF a cache even if it isn't intended for them?


FTF hunts aren't really part of the game right? It's not acknowledged by GS as part of the game, right? Geocaching is not supposed to be competitive, right?


Then why does GS acknowledge FTF by selling geocoins in their store? They're encouraging it without really saying so.

Because they can make money selling those coins. Doh!


And of course they are going to sell coins with themes that appeal to a majority of cachers. It makes sense that they appeal to FTF hounds. The forums are the unsilent minority of cachers, many enjoy the hunt!

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First-to-finds were described well to me early in my caching career. I knew there was a very competitive group of cachers in Portland that would have notifications sent to a fancy phone or whatever. (this was before the advent of now-common smart phones) It was tough to beat anyone with the technology better than mine to a cache. So, when a new one popped up a 1 hour drive away on the coast, I went for it. I was SOOOO proud to get a FTF and said so. Then the owner sent a note that gave me some perspective. I was reminded that it is about the hunt in general, and getting there first is nothing more than proof to a cache placer that their coords are good and the cache can be found.


Come with me on a journey through time...

At some point in caching history, caches were FILLED with goodies. Quality stuff: $10 gift cards, new in-box hotwheels, unopened decks of cards, cool pens, CDs, DVDs, etc etc. The idea that you got first crack at those items made for a helluva contest to get there first. When this little game developed to race to a cache first, hiders started to pay out a bit for FTF honors: A big gift card, cash, unactivated geocoins or TB tags, a special themed item that was handmade, etc. OOOH BOY did the game heat up!


But alas, caches are placed at a huge rate, and many cachers don't maintain them to keep good swag inside. Micros are abundant, and FTF is just a way to feel a small ego stroke. I felt it with my first FTF. I thought I was playing with the big boys in the big pool. I was suddenly a caching force to be reckoned with. I had technology that got me notifications quickly. I had a GPS with WAAS! I was willing to head out at 11pm when the local reviewer published caches. I had a bright headlamp and sturdy shoes. I was cool, man.



I took a little break from caching. I moved 1400 miles away from my comfortable roost in that caching community. I was thrown into a new place with new cachers who had NO idea who I was. And it didn't take long to see that they played differently than I was used to. Caches were placed differently. Hints were seldom used, and if they were, they weren't helpful. Terrain and Difficulty meant different things to them. I was lost. And I wasn't cool anymore.


So I realized, after 10 years of geocaching (in one form or another), this game has no winners. This sport has guidelines, not rules. This activity is here to get us outside and looking around at our surroundings. This thing called geocaching is done differently by EVERYONE who participates. I still net a FTF here and there, but I'm no cutthroat. I don't do it for the honor, prestige or rights to gloat. I do it because I want to find a cache.


So, that being said, chin up. Don't let it get under your skin. If you want to honor someone, think of a way to do it with honor. Contact the usual suspects and ask them to wait off on it. Invite them to be there to search with the honoree. Give the honoree the coords ahead of time and let them sign the log before the cache is activated. There are all kinds of ways to do it, and there is no reason to get upset by it. Calm those around you. Give this game/sport/activity some positivity.

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you could put a couple of qurters in there so the FTF can also use it to buy a soda.


I've tried this so many times and mentioned that there was "a small FTF prize." But they always leave the quarters and grabing something else thinking that was the prize. Maybe I should try $1 bills instead...

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