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Geocaches are sadly lacking swag, ideas?


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Degradation of SWAG in a cache is pretty much inevitable. There are quite a few cachers that carry items to 'replenish' junked-out caches but world-wide, they are few and far between. Mostly, it's those that are clueless as to a "trade even or trade up" concept. Pesonally, I am beginning to believe that today's society doesn't even know what that means.

 

Although I cannot speak for others, that is probably why so many have gravitated to leaving only calling cards/business cards. But that too has a downfall (we've all seen it) -- caches littered or filled with moldy, mildewy masses of what used to be paper.

 

Admittedly... not very many people are willing to give away good stuff (SWAG), but we also see this type of garbage all the time:

go into a dollar general and buy 20+ pieces of swag for like $15

Pretty much, it's that super-duper "imported from ......." stuff that curtailed our trading.

 

If you want decent SWAG in caches for trading, the only thing you can do is to Lead By Example.

 

Problem is.... probably less than 10% of cachers ever find or come to the forums to read these 'complaints'. They just wander about, enjoying their little "ME" world.

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It's true, the SWAG tends to get worse over time - the longer the cache has been there. As many others have posted, most people don't seem to follow the "trade even or up rule". As for myself, I don't normally take anything from a cache; but always try to leave something nice for the finder to comes after me. It's actually a way to extend the fun a little - it's not over after I've found the cache and moved on, I can watch the cache and see if anyone who finds it later mentions in their logs that they liked/appreciated the SWAG I left. And as someone else mentioned, hopefully leading by example will encourage them to leave something good as well. It's always fun for me to look back and see the next finder post "Oh, wow. There was some nice SWAG in this one. We took the Lego Minifig and left a keychain flashlight as trade..."

 

It is a little more expensive; but then again, usually only 2 out of every 10 caches I find are large enough for SWAG anyway. There seem to be a log of micros in my area... Additionally, I'm not a numbers hound, so I might only find 10 caches a month. I can't speak for the rest of the people here, but for me, it's not uncommon to spend $3.00 on one SWAG item. Still less than a latte (and I know people who buy three of those a day).

 

Some of the things I like to leave as SWAG (always everything sealed securely in plastic bags to prevent moisture damage):

 

Lego Minifigs

Little toy animal figures

HotWheels

GI Joe guys

Beaded bracelets (store bought or sometimes handmade)

colorful bandanas (great for craft projects or for dressing up your dog)

tubes of unused beads (to encourage people to make their own craft projects)

Hand carved/painted wooden pendants

hand crochet ornaments/toys (tiny ones)

Fancy seashells (also great for craft projects)

sheets of stickers

hand crochet headbands with flowers or sparkly beads on them (little girls love those)

blank unused greeting cards (sealed very securely in plastic)

handmade refrigerator magnets

rubber stamps (marked specifically as SWAG so people won't think it's part of a letterbox hybrid)

specialty sparkle pens/colored pencils

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I am new to geocaching and have been VERY disappointed at the junk I have found in caches. I agree with the theory "Lead by example" and am determined to set out the best caches in the state! Some of my items include a crank handle flashlight (no batteries to corrode and leak), a spork (spoon at one end, fork at the other) very cool compass zipper pull, GoToob (2oz travel bottle made by humangear.com), laminated map of the area where the cache is, a coupon good for a trail pass, coupon good for coffee or ice cream from a nearby restaurant, laminated bug and plant guides, beautiful stones and glass marbles, handmade fishing lure, smaller cache containers, carabiners, weird fun hardware, first aid kits, disposable camera, emergency poncho, insect repellent, and cool money, such as when a new bill comes out or those old $2 bills, or pretty Canadian money is good everywhere here in Washington state. Here's to finding fantastic caches you want to brag about!

 

These are all good suggestions, unlike most others in this thread. What you can do is go to Aliexpress and search for a topic of interest (for example "survival" is usually a good keyword), click cheapest first and you'll be left with some cool, practical, cheap items that aren't dollar store plastic junk.

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OK, I know I'm contributing to a thread that's three years old based on the date on the first entry, and probably fifteen years old if you include all similar threads ...

 

First, the main problem is simply that only a small percentage of cachers care about swag at all. I don't. I'll spend several minutes writing a good log in some cases, but won't even look at anything but the log book. I'd say that most cachers who don't have children with them don't care about the swag.

 

Second, most cachers are cowed by the "only trade up" dictum and so won't clean out a cache. I've come upon well-loved caches so stuffed with swag -- useless and/or broken swag -- that no one can leave anything better. When that happens, I take on the responsibility for removing the stuff that no one is going to look at, much less take. This may violate the letter of the "trade up" guideline ... or maybe not. I see some empty space in the cache as more valuable than trash.

 

Third, I have a local store called Country Dollar. It's not part of a chain, so I can't say how to find a similar store where you are, or if such stores even exist elsewhere. It's still literally a dollar store -- every item $1 except for a few which are several for $1. Geodes, sliced/polished rocks, wooden earrings, bracelets (plastic), etc. I stocked several caches from this store, and another local cacher was amazed that I'd spent less on the swag than on the cache container.

 

Edward

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I'll agree that caches lack flair. They are often met with someone intending on leaving garbage trinkets without putting much thought into a tangible appreciation. To a majority of cachers, it's about numbers and not necessarily a good adventure. Having spent hours designing each cache, I want to show creativity and excitement for those finding my caches. Sadly, a number of my caches were stolen and vandalized so I ended up terminating all of my caches. It wasn't worth maintaining to find handfuls of garbage that I need to throw away for everyone. Sure, I know geocoins are costly but this game involves a lot of "grown ups". Say no to Hello Kitty swag.

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I'll agree that caches lack flair. They are often met with someone intending on leaving garbage trinkets without putting much thought into a tangible appreciation. To a majority of cachers, it's about numbers and not necessarily a good adventure. Having spent hours designing each cache, I want to show creativity and excitement for those finding my caches. Sadly, a number of my caches were stolen and vandalized so I ended up terminating all of my caches. It wasn't worth maintaining to find handfuls of garbage that I need to throw away for everyone. Sure, I know geocoins are costly but this game involves a lot of "grown ups". Say no to Hello Kitty swag.

Perhaps if you made your caches PM only it may have reduced the "vandalism" to a manageable level?

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I can remember the day when it was fun looking over SWAG in a cache. That was part of the treasure hunt! While it's not the most important part by far, it's still disappointing to see what some people leave. And so much SWAG just for kids. Hey, I might like something too if there was anything interesting. I usually leave something but rarely take. I try to put something that could appeal to an adult or child...mineral specimens like Quartz points, amethyst, geodes; civil war bullets, vintage bottle caps, milk bottle caps, beautifully lithographed vintage seed envelopes, vintage wooden ice cream spoons, foreign coins, 99-cent bandanas, mosquito wipes, shawty pens and pencils.... I'm always looking for something cheap and interesting. I just bought a bag of about 300 Tibet Quartz crystals. I bagged em up 5 to a bag. I'm always trying to think of GOOD swag! Bring back the day of ammo cans and digging through "treasure" that you worked hard to find!

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Would not care one bit to collect or move along any off this sort of stuff.

 

You can go into a dollar general and buy 20+ pieces of swag for like $15 or less. There have been many caches where I just drop off a dozen things. A big problem around here is the caches being so small. You literally can fit any swag with any kind of substantial size.

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I use hand warmers in the winter, and insecticide wipes in the summer.

 

This is good, practical, adult, geocaching-related store-bought swag. I have been grateful for Off wipes in June - especially when I'm frantically searching through my backpack and can't find any, so great to find one in the next cache. Haven't found handwarmers in the winter yet, but that could be a godsend too.

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I didn't read this whole thread but I have my opinions on the topic. I've not Geocached much in the last few years but have a lot of swag from when I did. I've been stocking a cache (not mine) with some pretty good stuff and some great stuff a few times and I have the cache on my watch list and have not seen the first log describing a trade but all the swag somehow gets gone with nothing in any logs showing where it went. My opinion (and it's the one that counts the most) is that Geocaching has evolved into something entirely different from Jeremy's vision in the beginning. And for me that's not a good thing.

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I love the swag part of Geocaching and lead by example by leaving something that I myself would like to find. I like to leave swag that pertains to Geocaching like magnets or tokens that have a saying that pertains to GC or has the GC symbol on them (I have bought some off E-Bay that someone made), compasses, whistles and lately I've been making paracord buddy keychains.

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My kids like to collect those smashed/elongated pennies that you get out of machines at tourist places, so we always made a few extra to use as interesting swag. There is a machine sort of local to us, so sometimes I would go zip off a few when I need something to trade.

 

I bet they don't have any in their collection like these...

 

09d1af12-d32e-4a77-a82b-df6ebb76ffba.jpg

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7f757bc5-b99c-4638-b296-ddded8a5972c.jpg

53161596-3f52-4573-b86b-3286b8207566.jpg

b37217ae-cd63-4472-ac9b-4739c973a950.jpg

3b38ade5-9599-43e9-9742-b78854f0c861.jpg

4d60b803-8e66-473f-996b-8f2468706d84.jpg

bcfb6191-02ca-4f63-a9fe-112f8a8d76fc.jpg

e9ff8b14-1158-4d7d-8d7b-dfc8e5bc1d57.jpg

 

They ALL have this image on the back side:

563d0278-5231-4df8-bf62-d63eae89323d.jpg

 

Those are so cool and I love that they are all pertaining to GC, did you make them?

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there are a couple of issues associated with trackables though.

- they disappear (but so does other SWAG)

- they're pricy

- they are not trade items

 

To me, the term "swag" refers to trade items, not to trackables. (FWIW, I like the basic idea, and I'm planning to release copies of a bunch of trackables of mine that went missing.)

 

 

Yeah, i did kind of call them SWAG even though i know they're not.

 

What is SWAG?

it's something cool to find in a cache.

makes the find more interesting / fun, so trackables are the same in this respect.

the rules / suggestion is to trade even or up, so trackables are better in this respect

in that you can take them without having to place anything in return.

 

i'm guessing that unless you're a child you're not going to keep the SWAG (army men, key chains, etc.).

you'll just move it on to another cache, so this is exactly like a trackable.

 

the gist of my post was that trackables are very 'SWAG like', but even COOLER for the reasons i stated in my previous post.

and the intent of my post was to ENCOURAGE EVERYONE to recycle those trackables.

you bought that TB or geocoin so that you can enjoy watching it travel around and also read the posts.

so why have your feelings changed just because it's lost or has been stolen.

let's get them trackables back out there where they belong.

 

: ) EXMAN : )

 

I love finding trackables but to me SWAG pertains to things you can keep to remind you of the cache. You can look back at it and remember why you took that particular piece of swag and all the other details about the cache/adventure.

Edited by Luckyone80
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I use an assortment of things. I always keep on hand a few more expensive items ($3-$5 range each), I usually get these from the more expensive side of the dollar aisle at WalMart or the clearance aisle for more adult items. For my items for younger kids, I get $1 packages of assorted toys from the party aisle. I always try to buy the one that doesn't seem like junk (I've found nice rubber ballerinas, cool bouncee balls, plastic slinkies, and even small stuffed animals).

 

Another great place is yard sales. I've bought numerous toys in great condition from there that I've placed in caches.

 

Hope this helps.

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I don't do swag. I don't trade and when I pack a new cache with swag, it gets wiped out in weeks. I no longer bother.

 

Kudos on hiding so many swag size caches, even though you don't do swag. You give those people who like the swag part of geocaching an opportunity to enjoy that part of the game.

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image_zpsvmm15hb3.jpeg

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image_zpsppt3gspl.jpeg

 

I have kids that go with me, and others I know usually go with their kids. So we decided to clean out trash and advertisements Etc and replace with quality swag. None of this stuff is expensive, with almost all being $1 or less and the couple more expensive items were around $4. So we will save the expensive ones for special caches :)

Good Lesson about giving for the kids.

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I got the idea for silica gel packs from another cache. They really absorb moisture well and are non toxic (despite what you may have heard, just don't let kids eat them).

So we will be putting one or two with logs or additions we make when needed. Helps

Keep logs and caches dry!

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I got the idea for silica gel packs from another cache. They really absorb moisture well and are non toxic (despite what you may have heard, just don't let kids eat them).

So we will be putting one or two with logs or additions we make when needed. Helps

Keep logs and caches dry!

 

Please don't. Every time the cache gets opened, the silica gel is exposed to untold amounts of water vapour in the air and it quickly becomes saturated. Then it's just more garbage in the cache. Eventually these packets can tear open and the gel creates a mess in the cache.

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I got the idea for silica gel packs from another cache. They really absorb moisture well and are non toxic (despite what you may have heard, just don't let kids eat them).

So we will be putting one or two with logs or additions we make when needed. Helps

Keep logs and caches dry!

 

Please don't. Every time the cache gets opened, the silica gel is exposed to untold amounts of water vapour in the air and it quickly becomes saturated. Then it's just more garbage in the cache. Eventually these packets can tear open and the gel creates a mess in the cache.

 

A good point, scratch the silica... thanks!

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Degradation of SWAG in a cache is pretty much inevitable. ...

 

go into a dollar general and buy 20+ pieces of swag for like $15

Pretty much, it's that super-duper "imported from ......." stuff that curtailed our trading.

 

If you want decent SWAG in caches for trading, the only thing you can do is to Lead By Example.

 

...

 

I agree, then disagree, then agree again.

Degradation IS inevitable.

 

Dollar store stuff is not necessarily junk; tape measures, C-clamps, mini LED flashlights, jeweler's screwdriver sets, ear buds, USB chargers and the like are all things I've procured at such stores and placed in caches.

Yes, it's all made in China and not the highest of standards, but it sure beats broken McToys and soggy business cards.

 

And on your third point, yes, all we can do is trade even or up.

Edited by krisandmel
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I got the idea for silica gel packs from another cache. They really absorb moisture well and are non toxic (despite what you may have heard, just don't let kids eat them).

So we will be putting one or two with logs or additions we make when needed. Helps

Keep logs and caches dry!

Please don't. Every time the cache gets opened, the silica gel is exposed to untold amounts of water vapour in the air and it quickly becomes saturated. Then it's just more garbage in the cache. Eventually these packets can tear open and the gel creates a mess in the cache.

A good point, scratch the silica... thanks!

+1 on those pesky packets that rot out our ammo cans.

 

No offense, but I'd like to add candles to that list of "please don'ts", especially if scented.

Bears love caches that have smells to 'em. :)

Working for the World's most popular crayon manufacturer, you'd think crayons would be awesome.

- Well, they're not, as all the melted wax carp left on the bottom of many caches attest.

We did a lot of apologizing when we started (and replaced a lotta containers too).

 

Would anybody use a chap stick that they found in a cache? :laughing:

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The other thing I like to leave are 10 foot bundles of 550 paracord, in either blaze orange or camo pattern.

 

The spools are on Amazon for about $50 for 1000' at times, so I cut and melt the ends on 10' and each bundle costs me fifty cents.

 

Paracord has endless uses, out of ten feet you can get a pair of bootlaces, lash something to the roof of your car, make a bracelet or wrapped knife handle or whatever.

 

I think the next spool I get will be electric purple; my five year old's favorite color is purple, and Prince died, so.....

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The other thing I like to leave are 10 foot bundles of 550 paracord, in either blaze orange or camo pattern.

"Drat!" he said, kickin' at something.

Looked, and you're too far away... :laughing:

 

I've been keeping gold dollars, and those disks kinda like geocoins in my camera bag lately, for a rare trade on something I'd use.

 

One Summer I sorta stalked a guy who was leaving hand-tied fishing flies in caches when I had trigger finger release surgery (couldn't tie my own then).

- Gold dollar, and coins for a freebie at Cabela's laser arcade for each. :)

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Everyone seems to have the opposite problem then I do. I guess I am to obsessed. I have a daughter who is getting older so Instantly I had tuns of swagg to put in. Then I also have some items I don't need for swagg. I also lived in a condo for about 8 months. Being smaller places I guess the parents would go threw there kids toys to make room for new ones and instead of throwing them away they would put them in a box outside of the garbage area. I would come home from work and had to walk by to get to my apartment and would see boxes full of toys. This happened often. I would take them and go threw them for good swagg and then place back anything to big or I didn't want. Also friends and family know of my hobbie and give me containers and swagg all the time. I have way to much. I have given bags of swagg to cachers I know will use them.

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I got the idea for silica gel packs from another cache. They really absorb moisture well and are non toxic (despite what you may have heard, just don't let kids eat them).

So we will be putting one or two with logs or additions we make when needed. Helps

Keep logs and caches dry!

Please don't. Every time the cache gets opened, the silica gel is exposed to untold amounts of water vapour in the air and it quickly becomes saturated. Then it's just more garbage in the cache. Eventually these packets can tear open and the gel creates a mess in the cache.

A good point, scratch the silica... thanks!

+1 on those pesky packets that rot out our ammo cans.

 

No offense, but I'd like to add candles to that list of "please don'ts", especially if scented.

Bears love caches that have smells to 'em. :)

Working for the World's most popular crayon manufacturer, you'd think crayons would be awesome.

- Well, they're not, as all the melted wax carp left on the bottom of many caches attest.

We did a lot of apologizing when we started (and replaced a lotta containers too).

 

Would anybody use a chap stick that they found in a cache? :laughing:

 

Noted: we will leave the candels at home (We don't have Bears in downtown Indianapolis, but perhaps a dog would be attracted to the smell.)

We will also leave the Chapstick at home. (They are brand new in a package and then individually wrapped, it's the potential for melting that won your argument.

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I got the idea for silica gel packs from another cache. They really absorb moisture well and are non toxic (despite what you may have heard, just don't let kids eat them).

So we will be putting one or two with logs or additions we make when needed. Helps

Keep logs and caches dry!

Please don't. Every time the cache gets opened, the silica gel is exposed to untold amounts of water vapour in the air and it quickly becomes saturated. Then it's just more garbage in the cache. Eventually these packets can tear open and the gel creates a mess in the cache.

A good point, scratch the silica... thanks!

+1 on those pesky packets that rot out our ammo cans.

 

No offense, but I'd like to add candles to that list of "please don'ts", especially if scented.

Bears love caches that have smells to 'em. :)

Working for the World's most popular crayon manufacturer, you'd think crayons would be awesome.

- Well, they're not, as all the melted wax carp left on the bottom of many caches attest.

We did a lot of apologizing when we started (and replaced a lotta containers too).

 

Would anybody use a chap stick that they found in a cache? :laughing:

 

+1000

 

Scented or unscented, critters from ants to bears will sniff out things like candles, crayons, chapstick, and soap (even when they're unscented). For the same reason, it's best to use a clean container that has never been used for food.

 

I found a Folgers container full of ants on the weekend. That was a treat.

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We carry lots of swag and frequently 're-up' caches that are full of ripped movie tickets, chewing gum, business cards, and the like. Seeing junk makes me :blink: and :mad: .

Along with our bag of trackables, geocoins, and such we frequently buy and carry balloons, marbles, little green Army men, and other trinkets. Nothing big or elaborate but if we take one trinket we usually leave 2-4 small different items to keep the cache well stocked. I suck at any type of handicraft and I LOVE seeing the ideas you all have posted here. Good inspiration to be more creative. My logs are where I use my creativity.

We pick up multi-packs of things at the local Mega-Lo-Mart, grocery, Dollar Tree/Store/General/etc. It's not high quality but it's keeping caches stocked.

It makes it more fun for us - and I hope for the next few who come along.

Edited by Meow&Purr
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"One man's junk is another man's treasure." IMHO, anything that is clean and unbroken may be desired by someone. We always pull out matches, shotgun shells, candy, etc. when we come across them. And we always announce to each other if we encounter golf balls, Mardi Gras beads, or both!

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I got the idea for silica gel packs from another cache. They really absorb moisture well and are non toxic (despite what you may have heard, just don't let kids eat them).

So we will be putting one or two with logs or additions we make when needed. Helps

Keep logs and caches dry!

 

Please don't. Every time the cache gets opened, the silica gel is exposed to untold amounts of water vapour in the air and it quickly becomes saturated. Then it's just more garbage in the cache. Eventually these packets can tear open and the gel creates a mess in the cache.

 

Yep, first time for everything. I agree with Narcissa. Unless you regularly "cook" the water out of the gel, they are essentially useless.

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As my user name suggests, I like to make my own unique handmade SWAG whenever I have the time. I make beaded bracelets, small crochet toys, hand carved wooden pendants, ornaments - stuff like that. When I don't have time to create anything, I put in SWAG items like Lego minifigs, Hot Wheels, sheets of stickers, sparkle pencils, beads and other craft supplies to encourage people to make their own items.

 

Someone else suggested thrift store shopping, and they are correct. They frequently have bags of animal figures and other small toys for just a couple bucks. I take them home, sort out the broken ones and then clean the good ones with sanitizing soap before putting them into smaller plastic baggies to give away for SWAG. The other day I found a whole bag of 10 different My Little Pony toys for just $2. Little girls seem to love those.

 

But yes, far too often I find nice large caches that have very little in them, or just broken garbage nobody else wants. I throw that stuff away and refill the cache with better stuff whenever I can. Sure, it might mean I spend $5-$7 filling up someone else's cache with better SWAG, but usually it's for a good CO who I can tell spent quite a bit of his/her own money when they first hid the cache and it was only over time that other finders took all the "good" stuff and made the cache less exciting for future seekers. I understand that money is tight and some people can't afford spending $4 or $5 on every SWAG item they give out; but I think it's pretty rude to take a trade item that is obviously worth that much and leave nothing but a pine cone or 10 cent broken toy in it's place Admittedly, I don't have a lot of other expensive activities like skiing or golf, so a few dollars on geocaching isn't going to break the bank.

 

The thing that makes it kinda "worth it" is when, after I fill up a cache with some good SWAG, I put it on my watch list for a while. It's fun to read the logs of the next several cachers behind me who say "Wow, we loved the such&such SWAG, so we dug around until we found something equally good to make the trade". Then I feel like I've done my good deed and set a good example.

Edited by CascadeHandmade
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I feel like SWAG items are more important to kids than to adults, so we'll usually leave some simple plastic toys in caches that are big enough. I did come across small carabiners that we'll leave in some caches, as those might be useful to adults who want to find SWAG.

 

Rarely do we take anything out of caches.

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I didn't read this whole topic, so i hope that i'm not repeating something that has already been said, but i have 2 comments / suggestions...

 

1 - it's been mentioned that most swag is for kids, but something that would be enjoyed by both kids and adults are the mini coins that are available...they're about the size of a quarter and they cost as little as 99 cents each.

 

2 - to prevent Swag from getting 'wet and nasty', it should probably be in a ziplock bag.

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Since I live in a tourist town, a lot of the swag that I use is touristy (poker chips from the Irish Channel St. Patrick's Day Club, golf balls from the World War 2 Museum, stuff from the Angola Museum, keychains, est.).

 

A few weeks ago, I found a geocache with not a lot of swag in it. So I left a trackable, a world war 2 museum, and a poker chip from the Irish Channel St. Patrick's Day Club.

Edited by Justin Of Terrytown
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I have done a bazillion searches on Amazon for things to give out as prizes for summer camp (some of which happens to end up as swag in caches). I've found some things that are inexpensive but aren't junk. My most recent purchase was 'S' carabiners, spin tops, bouncy balls (250 in a bag), train whistles, bracelets, keychains, and some neat little rubber charm rings. I also have several pounds of old world coins, a giant bag of fossilized shark's teeth, and paracord bracelets. Mostly I think about kids trading swag, and the comments I get on my caches are often that the kids loved digging through the selection. As an adult, I can't think of much that would appeal to me. I like sig items and trackables, instead. Because I get things inexpensively, I don't mind cleaning out the business cards and bottle tops and hairpins and pennies and stocking a good cache with what I carry.

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The clearance isle at walmart is always packed full of neat swaggable stuff at reasonable prices.

 

Exactly. There is also Target, Dollarama (in Canada), Dollar Tree (in USA) in other great places. Even sometimes corner stores!

 

We have Dollar Tree in Canada too.

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I think geocaching should be renamed The Dollar Store Game. These days, most geocache containers, and most items in the containers come from the dollar store. big_smile.gif

+1 :laughing:

The downside (for us) is when we find something the kids really like, it's phased (or sold) out next time we're there.

I think it was Family Dollar, found "Real Bug" keychains (lucite, with a real insect, scorpian, or spider inside).

Bought the whole lot.

We actually got families stalking us for them. Who'd know that was what was hot at the time?

Next time at the store they're all gone. Guess we depleted the supply. :lol:

Got a gross of "Break your own geodes" at Oriental Trading.

After one Summer, we couldn't even give 'em away at events.

- Maybe 'cause you had to put some effort into it for the prize...

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