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The Trend To Tnlnsl, Losing Our Roots


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My wife and I like to leave nice things in a cache, we might leave a compass, or carabinier or a sewing kit, hot wheels car, but we always leave our card and our trade mark item a GeoScouting wooden nickel <http://kaiserklan.com/GeoScouting/flagpatchnickel.jpg>.


Usually we take nothing but that depends on what we find, I would rather leave the mcToys for the kids but will take items of use like anything that could be converted into a travel bug, see <http://www.geocaching.com/track/details.aspx?id=65370> for an example.


The hunt is still the most important thing to us and we get a little discouraged when all we're after is a micro too small for any fodder. But they have their place too and can be lots of fun for example in a downtown setting where a normal size cache would be impossible.

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When I started Geocaching, I thought this would be a cool cooperative thing where people traded stuff of small but real value, all in the spirit of the game. I soon learned that, human nature being what it is, people are better receivers than givers. There's always a downward spiral of items in a container. At first I was disappointed, but then came to realize that mostly kids did the trading, and you can make a child happy without spending a lot. My children are grown, so I never take anything from caches. But to give something back to the sport, and to put a smile on a kid's face somewhere down the line, I always leave a new item I buy cheap at Walmart or the dollar store. For a buck or two, you can put something worthwhile in a cache for a child. Will you miss the money? Like the stuff in the caches, I guess I everybody puts what they want into geocaching, and takes what they want out of it.

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Just when my patience was running out for finding crappy and broken toys, and golf balls etc, my faith in trading items was regenerated.


I found a cache, and in that cache I noticed that there was a handmade item (I believe they called it a Quintipus) which looked like a little hand-knit octopus with a keyring sewn into the top. I don't really know what purpose it serves besides being a keyring, but I love it! I made sure to trade up for something that was remotely as well made, and as valuable. I keep this little guy with me when I go caching attached to my backpack to inspire me to trade items that are worthwhile, and might put a smile on someones face, or at least appear "neat". The effort put into making this item is the kinda thing I like to see when I cache. Now I just have to find a skill of my own to make a cool signature item!!

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Since I'm a new guy, I'll add my thoughts too. I have three kids I take with me, ages 4, 2, and 2 (twin girls), and they LOVE the time together, and finding a "treasure" out in the woods. I always make sure they bring something they think someone else would find neat too (usually towards kids though). We try to gear our finds towards other caches that might have something for them too. I don't think I'd feel right if my son traded a matchbox in a cache that had PocketPCs, GPS units, software, and cell phones in it (if such a cache exists, call me AT ONCE!). But my wife and I (or at least I) will start doing some on our own without them too, and then we'll bring more items geared towards us, and such (collectibles, items that are interesting, etc...). But, I've had two TNLNSL (well, one I couldn't sign for the lack of pen in the cache). I always make sure I have something with me to trade, even if I end up not. If I don't, it's because I feel that the cache has been neglected, so I'll just report it in the log when I get home, or because I feel that the cache may be themed, and what I brought doesn't fit. Of course, that would be a cache that I decide to pursue in the spur of the moment, else I would've brought a themed item. I remember reading somewhere that it's supposed to be the thrill of the find more than the traded items, so I'm sure some may argue that. But, as it's also written somewhere: If you want someone to hike 2 miles out into an area to find a small box, you should at least make it worth the journey. I will never settle into a TNLNSL mode, as it just doesn't seem as interesting to me. I work full time, and with the kids I can't get out after hours, but we go when we can, and look forward to it, even if it's only once every week or two. The space between just makes the anticipation of the find even better!

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I know for me, I used to leave decent stuff in almost every cache I went to even if I didn't take anything. After moving to California I slowed down on that for a few reasons. One of course there are a ton of micros around here. Second the sheer number of caches, leaving a $1 item every time would sure add up. And lastly I got discouraged over the low quality of items in the caches in general. Even new caches were pretty sad.


Well I started turning this around. I am once again starting to leave things even when I don't take anything. And I'll tell you what, I feel like more a part of the game and like I'm contributing to the community. B)

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On my soap box (which doesn't happen much). Yesterday while caching I had to keep giving my 6 yo swag from my bag (trying to keep her enthusiasm up) because the caches were full of c**p. Last night I got a log that said one of my caches "is a little light on trade items")nicely stocked when I put it out this summer).....argh! What is a person to do????? B)

Edited by Charles Street Gang
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about the only thing I can imagine, would be to start adding a line to "please try to trade even, or up" in your cache descriptions. Unfortunately, I have a feeling there's not much else we will be able to do to convince people otherwise. I do think people in general have a soft spot for kids. If they play a very active role with you (sounds like they do!), let people know, "My kids love checking the cache" and it might make people think twice about skimping. Never know. Just my thoughts... (if you already have those lines in your description, sorry B) )

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I suppose I could be considered a traditionalist. For me, a cache is a combination of experiences. The thrill of the hunt, the search at the final location and the promise of some unique item to trade for. Many times, the latter consists of assorted junk, but sometimes, you get pleasantly surprised. Each cache I find is like adding another pearl to a necklace. Each one provides it's own kind of experience and the trading of items at the final location is part of that. Sheer numbers mean little to me and I like to take my time on each and every hunt because most likely, there is something to see along the way. I guess everyone has their own way of enjoying caching, mine definitely includes the time honored trading of items.

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I did just think that I really have to come up with a sig item of my own to put in almost every cache I find, regardless!

For me, having a signature items to distribute has made finding caches with nothing in them of interest, fun to find again.


Maybe it's like the days of bing a kid when it was fun to write my name on things. Maybe signature items are like writing my name on geocaches all around the country. It gives another dimention of fun beyond finding the cache and not finding any cool things inside to trade for.

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Trading items depends on the individuals, of course. For me, I trade-in fact my ziplock bag is cramped full of stuff. Early this month, it was empty.


I actually think many folks trade but list TNLN in the online logs because they forgot what they left. Especially if they found many caches in one day or several day but dont have access to the internet. I say this because I have seen some interesting items in caches I have found and in my own caches and I have forgotten what I have left.


If I were hiking in to find caches, I would probably do the TNLN too. The same if I found a Bug hotel/junction/trading post, etc and had no bug to trade. The same for a micro cache.


Do what you like, if the cache is empty fill it up. If its full, make some room or contact the owner. Its up to you.



My three cents (inflation)......

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Also, I am trying to keep them as simple as possible and still novel and fun


My son found a similar (but not as nice) wire puzzle in a cache recently and considered it one of his all-time favorite cache finds, and he's been with me to find at least a few hundred.


I recently got a great deal on magnetic key hiders which I turn into ready-to-go micros. There doesn't seem to be much TNLN right after I leave one of them.

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I think most people are too cheap to trade anything of value. I'll do a TNLNSL if the cache is full of geo-trash, although sometimes I gather up all the geo-trash and stash it nearby in a schwag-bag. If everybody would stop leaving dollar store items and Mctoys in caches, then you might have less TNLNSL's. I think that all serious, dedicated geo-cachers should adopt the idea of " leave it better than you found it" and all will be good. More signature items are a great idea!

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the rules don't limit "cool" stuff. They do, however, remind you that there are families out there searching too. If you have young kids, you can only imagine trying to explain what that funny looking banana is doing in there. I wouldn't want my kids to find that. But, there are, at last count, 38,722,894,201 products in this world that don't fall into the aduly category, and all but .0001% of them retail for more than $0.99. It is up to the cache placer, and the subsequent finders to make a "great" cache. For example, when I place my caches, I intend to spend more than 10 bucks on it. My first one, for example, which will be placed this upcoming weekend, has a flashlight, collectible coins, some foreign currency, mini-playing cards (they are quite a cool little novelty), a matchbox for kids, and some other goodies even better. But if someone takes out a flashlight, and leaves a used tissue, then yes, the cache will lose interest. But to say that the rules limit cool things in caches is a little vague.

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