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Geocaching Culture in Different Areas of the World


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I'm curious about what drives the geocaching culture in major caching countries around the world. From my perspective, I live in the US and have found thousands of caches in the US. I've spent the last 3 weeks in Australia (caching quite a bit) and found a lot of the caching norms in America don't apply. In general, the average Australian cache seems to require more effort than the average American cache. For example:

  • Australia doesn't seem to have a lot of the park-n-grab culture that the US has. Many areas of the US you can find industrial parks and shopping centers proliferated with sign post and LPC caches; I haven't seen that at all in Australia (although, they don't have skirts in their lampposts like the US). This doesn't even go into the massive power trails you can find in the deserts and plains of the US (ET, Eastern Colorado, BLT, etc)
  • The percentage of multi caches seems much higher in Australia and the multis themselves seem to require more effort (more stages/more research)
  • Australia seems to have a more strict view on geocaching ethics. This point would take too long to explain but essentially I picked this up from the average log and messaging cachers

 

I should mention that parts of the US definitely vary as well but in general, my statements about American geocaching I would say generally apply.

 

So with this in mind, what makes these differences? I'm not specially talking about just Australia and the US, its just the only two countries with geocaches everywhere that I've cached for quite a bit so I've drawn examples from there.

 

Is it just the layout of the cities/geography of the areas (Ie American cities have a lot of open space compared to the rest of the world)?

 

Do reviewers guide culture based on what types of caches they allow and how strict they area about seeking permission? (For example, in the US, I've heard some states reviewers will make you seek permission for LPCs in a Wal-mart for instance while other reviewers seem to let it slide)

 

Does it have to do with the age of geocachers? I'm fully convinced that average geocaching age is much younger in Europe than America which would make you think that younger people are more likely to hide tougher caches.

 

Look forward to any insight people may have. 

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I've lived in 2 parts of the Western United States with radically different hide-styles.

  • Tucson and surrounding desert, Arizona (a city famous for its great big areas of open desert): This area is all about the numbers. The biggest local cacher, Philbeer, has about a 40% share of the inner-city's cache and about 80% of the surrounding areas, with the next most, TuffAZNaylz, having less than 5% in-city and about 15% in the surrounding desert. Often, new geocaches are found by the 10 or so major geocachers in the first few days and then monthly at best after that. The bison tube, film canister and micro preform are king in the Arizona desert, and in the city the Nano reigns supreme. Power trails proliferate on the lonely country roads. Caches are often not even waterproof, replaced after each rainy season. In Tucson, hide and find counts are the name of the game.
  • Everett-Seattle-Tacoma metro area, Washington (confined and developed): This area is all about the individual caches. With a more forested terrain, suburban parks are filled with Smalls and Regulars, even occasionally Larges. Of course, we are lucky, being a stone's throw from the Lily Pad, the Monkey and the Original (along with GCD and the HQGT), so our caches are mobbed by Trifectizers. In the City, micros are everywhere (of course) but there is a conspicuous absence of power trails of more than 5 or so caches, mostly due to the sheer amount of "small-time" COs here, myself included. Caches are found nearly every week (except puzzle caches. Mine has only been found twice in the several months of its existence), but a soggy log/moldy swag is common here. The most common caches: Tupperware (here incl. L&Ls and pelicans), Ammo-cans (:)) and film- and pill- canisters.

That's just my experience.

Edited by lazyuncle
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It varies quite massively around different areas in Australia too. We have our massive numbers centres, with power trails delivered by what feels like an air cannon firing bisons out the window of a car as it travels country roads!

Edited by lee737
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4 minutes ago, lee737 said:

It varies quite massively around different areas in Australia too. We have our massive numbers centres, with power trails delivered by what feels like an air cannon firing bisons out the window of a car as it travels country roads!

 

At the other extreme is the area around me on the Central Coast, where there are no power trails or geoart, and, of the region's 487 caches, 74% are more than 5 years old with the smalls (43%) and regulars (27%) both outnumbering the micros (22%). There are a multitude of factors at play, including the environment (whether it's mostly urban or bushland) and the interests of the region's most prominent hiders over the years. Really, it would only take one CO to convert somewhere like the Central Coast into a sea of power trail micros, and while that's not something I'd like to see, some more new cache placements around here wouldn't go astray.

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Germany has a longstanding reputation for having a disproportionate number of armchair cachers.

 

Most European countries have much less restrictive private property / trespassing laws than the USA. There is also a larger urban exploration scene in Germany than America. Thus I get the impression there are a lot of caches that couldn't exist in America because they take you places that would be illegal here but aren't illegal in Europe.

 

I imagine power trails are much more common in the USA than most other countries because we're much more automobile-centric.

 

Edited by JL_HSTRE
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1 minute ago, JL_HSTRE said:

be illegal here but aren't there.


Most of the lost place caches around here aren't legal in Germany, but they are using some loopholes in German jurisdiction

 

3 minutes ago, JL_HSTRE said:

we're much more automobile-centric.


ask the Germans about their most loved:

A lot of them would answer: my car, my house, my wife or husband, and my children (in this order). Germans love their cars!
The USA has one great advantage:

a lot of space, with no muggles. Around here, there is always somebody living, or working. We just don't have that space.
Lets take a look at some numbers:
USA has a population 334.914.895 pax in  9.525.067 km² which means 34pax/km² 
Germany has a pupulation of 84.358.845 pax in 357.588 km² which means 236pax/km²

which leads to a lot of problems, when people try to be sneaky searching around.
At least in the 4 northern German states, in which we review, you'll have to have proper and documented permission for a power trail, esp. on public land.
That's sometimes a real stopper for some projects.

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I live in the Seattle metro area. We don't really have power trails, though PnGs are abundant, especially within the metro area. Seattle, like many major cities, seems to have a disproportionate number of puzzle caches, many of which are really difficult, and there is of course a dedicated community who really enjoy puzzles. I think there is another large camp in the Pacific Northwest who combine geocaching with backcountry exploration. We have a huge number of incredibly difficult, dangerous mountain caches, some involving multi-pitch rock climbing, glacier travel, or multi-night trips off-trail. Paddle caching is also a big deal here, with a decent number of caches in the Puget Sound. Overall, I think there is a fairly sizeable culture here that revolves around benchmarking difficult trips and encouraging others to follow your lead.

 

As it relates to reviewers, I think any differences will be more about the individual reviewer than the culture around them. Some are more lenient, while others aren't, and that's true even when multiple reviewers govern the same area. I can't say much about Europe since I didn't meet any cachers there, but I think there are plenty of younger cachers around me, mostly because HQ provides its employees with memberships and encourages them to get out and about around the city, and these employees happen to be younger than the average cacher.

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My thought is ultimately the hides in an area reflect the preferences of the people doing the hides in an area.    

If there are a couple of hiders in an area that like streaks - there are going to be PNG hides for those cachers to keep streaks going.

If there are hiders that like big numbers - there are going to power trails for people to rack up big numbers.

If there are hiders who like fizzies - there are going to caches with all the D/T ratings.

If there are hiders who like puzzles - there will be puzzle caches.

If there are hiders who like travel bugs - there will be secure large travel bug hotels.  

 

 

 

 

 

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What parts of Australia did you cache in? As already pointed out, the experience can vary significantly even within Australia.

 

I haven't cached in the states but have done a little on a few countries each in both Europe and Asia, and I’d say we are pretty spoiled here in Australia (broadly speaking).

 

As for differences, we travelled interstate last week for Leap Day and decided to do a a fizzy loop in a day. It required caching for the entire 24 hours straight, but there is no way we would’ve been able to do that in our home state.

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6 hours ago, The_Jumping_Pig said:

Completing the D/T grid.

Thank you. First time I have heard it called that.

 

Added: I realised the title of this thread. So, this is an example of Geocaching Culture in Different Areas of the World. The wording used.

Edited by Goldenwattle
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20 hours ago, Goldenwattle said:

Thank you. First time I have heard it called that.

 

Added: I realised the title of this thread. So, this is an example of Geocaching Culture in Different Areas of the World. The wording used.

The cache that started it all https://coord.info/GC11E8N Well Rounded Cacher (The Fizzy Challenge)

 

Found this from a different Fizzy Challenge

GC11E8N – Well Rounded Cacher (The Fizzy Challenge), the original Fizzy Challenge cache, was placed in California by Kealia to honor the cacher FizzyMagic, who has given much to the “local caching community” better know as the San Francisco Bay area.

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Some things that are noticeably different different between the UK and the Netherlands (the only country outside the UK I feel I've cached in enough to start getting a sense of) are:

 

  • Dutch cachers really like Woodies (collectible/swapable personalised wooden coins that may or may not have a trackable code on to discover).  They're so little of a thing in the UK that when in a group conversation with non-cachers I asked a caching friend of 10+ years 'I know this'll sound really suspicious to those of you who aren't X but... X, what does one do with woodies?', he'd literally never heard of them.  Which made my confidence that I wasn't just being smutty somewhat misguided!
  • Dutch multi caches cover a lot of distance for their T rating compared with the UK.  A T1 or T1.5 multi in the UK is likely 'go to a place, read numbers off a thing, go max 300m away'.  Whereas my friends and I joke that the T rating on a Dutch multi is simply how may day's hike it is.
  • I think they're a lot more into 'here is my personal collection discoverable trackables' than in the UK (but that's possibly a reflection of the types of people who come to an 8am event on the 29th February hosted by foreigners at a closed McDonalds...  That's another difference - it didn't even register as a possibility to us that a McDonalds wouldn't be open at 8am!)
  • Dutch caches are on average better maintained than UK caches
  • Dutch trees are more different to UK trees than you'd expect.  A lot of Dutch tree climbs are either 'use a ladder, don't climb' or 'you'll need ropes and one of those pull you up devices because the lowest branches are 10m up' (ie pine/forestry trees), whereas I think a higher proportion of the tree climbs we see in the UK are either free climbable or you'd want ropes for safety for a higher free climb but you can still scramble up from ground level (or ground level plus a bit of a bunk up).
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5 hours ago, smudgepuss said:

Some things that are noticeably different different between the UK and the Netherlands (the only country outside the UK I feel I've cached in enough to start getting a sense of) are:

 

  • Dutch cachers really like Woodies (collectible/swapable personalised wooden coins that may or may not have a trackable code on to discover).  They're so little of a thing in the UK that when in a group conversation with non-cachers I asked a caching friend of 10+ years 'I know this'll sound really suspicious to those of you who aren't X but... X, what does one do with woodies?', he'd literally never heard of them.  Which made my confidence that I wasn't just being smutty somewhat misguided!
  • Dutch multi caches cover a lot of distance for their T rating compared with the UK.  A T1 or T1.5 multi in the UK is likely 'go to a place, read numbers off a thing, go max 300m away'.  Whereas my friends and I joke that the T rating on a Dutch multi is simply how may day's hike it is.
  • I think they're a lot more into 'here is my personal collection discoverable trackables' than in the UK (but that's possibly a reflection of the types of people who come to an 8am event on the 29th February hosted by foreigners at a closed McDonalds...  That's another difference - it didn't even register as a possibility to us that a McDonalds wouldn't be open at 8am!)
  • Dutch caches are on average better maintained than UK caches
  • Dutch trees are more different to UK trees than you'd expect.  A lot of Dutch tree climbs are either 'use a ladder, don't climb' or 'you'll need ropes and one of those pull you up devices because the lowest branches are 10m up' (ie pine/forestry trees), whereas I think a higher proportion of the tree climbs we see in the UK are either free climbable or you'd want ropes for safety for a higher free climb but you can still scramble up from ground level (or ground level plus a bit of a bunk up).

 

i have been to the Netherlands twice in the last six months

 

your Lab cache art are brilliant 

 

i held two events and was surprised by the amount of woodies i was given  - very pleasing and both events where well attended 

 

you have a lot of old 2001 - 2003 multis  = most of them were to long to do in the time we had

 

Urban 2 was fun  - it took me two days to recover from the pedal boat  - lol 

 

need to go back as your caches are well maintained  = even the old ones

 

 

 

 

Edited by Clongo_Rongo
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On 3/18/2024 at 4:52 PM, smudgepuss said:

Dutch cachers really like Woodies


This response was the one that prompted me to respond (and I think this is my first ever post on the forums… so begroeting !)

 

The Dutch ‘woodies’ love is something I too, as a long time UK cacher, only experienced once I started caching within the Netherlands and Belgium. I was at a small event in Antwerp when I got gifted my first woody, and now have a small collection of them! It seems to have developed elsewhere too, Germany being the obvious one, but France seems to have been growing in their usage too!

 

As someone who works in languages and cultures and travels a fair bit for it (as my username may suggest!), I think a lot about the cultural differences in caching styles, and the ones that seem most stark to me thus far are:

 

> No country loves making National Series as much as the UK (and that is one of my favourite aspects about UK caching). Whether it’s Church Micros, Sidetracked, Motorway Mayhem… the UK is all about those national series. Other countries seem to make them of a slightly more regional flavour — France does a lot of département-based (33 Tour, Les caches de [insert département here], Mystères de […]) caching, which is great if you live in those places but can be tricky if just visiting.

 

> Events in Continental Europe are VERY different to the UK; for the UK, we typically hold them in a restaurant or pub, and so there’s a menu on offer as a way of supporting local businesses, and they’re often a very regular event (eg Hampshire Monthly Midweek Meet), whereas I’ve found that in virtually every other country I’ve been to an event, it’s more typical to hold events outside or in some ‘neutral’ location, they’re done on a slightly more ad hoc basis, and (especially for Germany!) they’re created for some ‘reason’ rather than just as a regular event to expect. Germany was quite a shock when it comes to events — it seems like some events are a CO going  “ooh, I’ve got 2 hours free from work in a month’s time, might as well make an event!”. France tends to centre a lot of events around regional caching organisations, which is also something that just gets confined to unofficial Facebook groups of “X location Cachers” in the UK!

 

> The difference between quality vs quantity is always an interesting one. I’m currently based in Bordeaux, where one cacher has something of a monopoly about the city of mystery caches, which whilst well-created, are all very… samey, and immensely predictable as to where they’ll be once you’re there. That’s fine enough, but a) isn’t too exciting for tourist caching and b) can feel like a chore after a while just trying to work out the answers to clear areas. Similarly, the France/Germany/Luxembourg borders (where I used to live) were full to the brim of different caches — but there was a good amount of variety within them and not all placed by just one person. The further east you get within Europe, it seems like caches really become focused on the things you see — Prague, Vienna and Bratislava are some of my absolute favourite cities for caching, as it’s almost entirely about lovely spots and views and some amazingly cool urban caches that are right slap bang in the middle of the path… but which just blend in like nothing else. That’s something that outside of London and Edinburgh, I haven’t found there to be much of in the UK. Caching in Scandinavia was always a bit of a treat — plenty of caches, lots of variety, and ~70% of mysteries are made accessible whether or not you speak the local language.

 

> There’s not toooo much to say on this, but I always find Challenge caches interesting in other countries. For the UK (especially more so now, for, erm, obvious reasons), lots of challenge caches which revolve around countries/places will be anything above a 3.5-4, regardless of how many countries/what the challenge is, whereas the EU seems to universally put them within about a D2-4. The regionalisation is quite a bit more consistent in the continent too, and so many rely on living there much more than many UK caches seem to. It’s not unusual to find “X caches in Département ____” or “One cache in every Bundesland“, whereas I think there are only a handful of “X amount of caches in this UK county” or “All English/Welsh etc. counties” challenges in the UK, even accounting for any changes since the guidelines alteration a few years back.

 

> One final big difference that I have found, and even more so since I put out my own mystery, is the approach people take to asking for assistant or guidance on caches, or doing maintenance on caches without checking if it’s okay. Without starting a big debate on the topic (I know these topics can cause… rifts, let’s say!), my observations are that: for mystery caches, it’s only a last resort amongst UK cachers to ask for help. We don’t seem to like asking for assistance, and I know of at least a few cachers who have said that they don’t like giving help to cachers on mysteries if they can help it (which… really is a case-by-case thing, I think). However, it seems much more brazen in many other countries to ask for hints (or even the answer directly!), which was quite the surprise when travelling around and just thinking “well, if I can’t solve it I’ll just have to look another 23 times before I can crack it…”. Also!! The method of mystery cache creations! I could write SO much on this, but in short: the UK is great for variety and logic puzzles, France loves dcode.fr and multiple choice quizzes, Germany adores research, alphanumeric responses and puzzles about culture, Denmark enjoys mystery caches that are accessible but still just about tricky enough to a degree of feeling accomplishment, Luxembourg is a combination of all the countries around it (which is great for linguistic practice!), and Czechia/Slovakia enjoys mysteries that are actually mainly multis.

 

These are of course just my observations, and there are probably a hundred more that I’ve forgotten… but given how many languages I’ve been solving puzzles in after the last 2 years, I’ve found myself plunging into the culture of caching much more than I’d have ever expected!

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