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Lab Cache Planning and Considerations - Our Approach


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The COG Cache Theory Mega was featured in a recent Geocaching HQ Blog (http://blog.geocaching.com/2014/07/the-theory-of-caching-is-found-in-canada).

As a result... the COG Mega Organizers have been asked a -lot- of questions about Lab Caches and our planning process!


Every organizing team will be working with different locations, different circumstances and different resources.

This post is intended to explain what worked in our situation; if it helps anyone else - that's great.


The questions asked by the organizing/volunteer team during the Lab Cache design process were:


  • How can we make the most of Lab Caches not needing to follow the 528ft/161m saturation guideline?
  • Can we provide a physical logbook with some of our Lab Cache hides?
  • How can we avoid the Lab Cache keyword being web searched or guessed?
  • What amazing cache containers can be created that will only need to be in place a few days (possibly with high maintenance requirements)?
  • How can our Lab Caches be adventures and experiences - and not just a hunt for keywords in seemingly random locations?
  • Not everyone has a SmartPhone device; not all locations have good signal - how can we give folks the best chance at enjoying the Lab Caches?


The Lab Caches took a few weeks of planning - as well as many hours of building by some of the event volunteers.

A few days before the Lab Caches were activated, an announcement was posted on the Mega listing to ensure that all attendees were aware of the Lab Cache URL for the event. The URL was also placed in the main body of the Mega listing. This allowed everyone to "bookmark" the Lab Cache page ahead of time.


- The event site had a few existing caches; Lab Caches were placed in locations that were best suited to cope with hundreds of visitors over the course of the weekend. A few of those locations would usually have been unavailable due to the 528ft/161m saturation guideline. Space was given wherever possible to existing caches; it's less fun when you are working on one cache and see a crowd of people at a tree nearby signing the log at another cache!


- One of the Lab Caches required a visit to a historic monument to gather the logging keyword. The Lab Cache listing simply provided a set of coordinates. At those coordinates a physical cache had been placed. Within the container was a logbook and an information sheet outlining the history of the nearby location. The sheet also included the question that needed to be answered in order to obtain the logging keyword. In other words... you wouldn't know what the question was from the Lab Cache listing -- you had to get to the coordinates first. Even if you were to research the location online and find a photo of the monument in an online gallery, you would not know the question that needed to be answered from the Lab Cache listing alone.


- A couple of the Lab Caches required battery power; the creators of the electronic Lab Caches had spare batteries on hand as well as pre-planned maintenance runs. Complex caches with electronic circuitry are fun and creative; they are also sometimes fragile and not built to withstand the elements. They were hidden in locations that were easy to get to and therefore easier to maintain during the Lab Cache finding window.


- The organizing/volunteer team were given the opportunity to create 10 Lab Caches for this Mega. In the end, only 8 were released. The other two Lab Caches we had worked on simply didn't seem as good as the others. The feedback on the Lab Caches we did put out has been fantastic. We are very glad we didn't push out the other two; the experiences would not have been as good for the Mega attendees.


- The location of the Mega had very spotty cellular coverage; many attendees did not possess a Smartphone and/or a data plan. A sheet of the Lab Cache names and coordinates had been made available at the Mega registration desk. This allowed coordinates to be manually entered into GPS devices, so that the keywords could still be found - and the attendees could still log their Lab Caches after leaving the event site.


A team of amazing volunteers created/built the Lab Caches at GC4NRG1.

To ensure their efforts are never forgotten, we posted a "Thank You" on the Mega Event cache listing before it was Archived.


Here are a few examples of some of the Lab Caches from GC4NRG1.


The Spherical Divination Experiment

(Find the ball that has the log and the keyword!)



The Light Bending Experiment

(Redirect the laser into the sensor with a prism to open the door)



The Rock-Paper-Lizard Experiment

(aka put the right blocks in the right places and the trap door opens with the logbook and keyword!)



The Big Potato Experiment

(probe the spuds to illuminate the digital displays on the top of the container!)



Much fun was had by all!

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