Celebrate a birthday with a geocache?
July 6, 2016 1:06 PM   Subscribe

It's my dad's 70th birthday coming up, and we're brainstorming ways to celebrate. He's an avid geocacher, and we'd like to do something in honor of the occasion. Geocachers of AskMe, please advise on a couple of ideas we're considering!

My dad is turning 70 this fall. He is an avid geocacher, regularly sets himself goals like "log 5 finds in every county of $state" and has worked his way up from his own state (now pretty much saturated) to neighboring ones. I don't know how many caches he's started or is currently responsible for, but I remember him showing me one of his near his previous house (before they moved when he retired) so I assume he started at least one near his new home and is doing the (minimal) maintenance of owning the cache (s?).

For his birthday, I had an idea to create a set of travel bugs (or coins?) that would be launched by our wide-spread family, give him the tracking codes, and everybody would launch them at a cache near their homes on/near his birthday, with the goal to arrive in the cache owned by Dad near his house, but they wouldn't arrive for months (if at all, I'm kind of assuming this doesn't really work)
- how much work is this? how many travel bugs is too many? is six too many, or could I include more of his family/friends?
- what's the user-friendliness difference between a travel bug and a geocoin?
- would it be cool to launch from a foreign country or will it never make it across the ocean? (from Sweden and/or Brazil to the US)
- My best guess of a plan: I'd buy bar code tags from the geocache website, mail them or have them shipped to my cousins, email everybody a matching "it's dad's birthday, deliver this to him" tag to print, and each cousin would fasten tags to some fist-sized cool object of their choice and put it in a cache near their house. Is that basically right? What else?

Or if a fleet (okay, probably 6) of travel bugs is too much of a herd of cats, or delayed payoff, or otherwise not a good idea, what else could we do?

We thought about creating a "birthday party" cache, basically just a standard weatherproof box but decorate up the inside of it with "congratulations dad happy 70th" decoupage, and the present would be the gift of the box and the activity of finding a place for it. But I don't have a feel for how much work it will be to choose a (good) place. And I kind of feel like if he wanted to hide a cache he would just hide it and we're either crimping his style or making more work for him. But maybe a special occasion makes it different?
For the birthday weekend, we'll be renting a cabin in a state park about 1.5 hours from his house.
We can safely assume he's found all the caches in that state park, he gripes about how the only things left in his home territory are caches you have to dive, climb, or otherwise do real physical work for. So we could create the new cache there on the weekend, or he could take it home and place it somewhere.

So, reasons to go with the new cache over the travel trackers, or the bugs vs coins choice, or any comments that will smooth my way with the planning, are welcome, as well as any suggestions of another concept entirely.
posted by aimedwander to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (7 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Child of another 70 year old geocacher here. Maybe a combo of your ideas? Set up BirthdayCache at the state park initially. (Maybe create a separate birthday wishes logbook, signed by friends/family, that he can keep?) Include bugs or coins that he can send out to have return to BirthdayCache, or just track. If you don't list the cache on Geocaching.com before he finds it (and I wouldn't, because geocachers are FAST) he has the options of taking it with him and setting it up closer to home, or leaving it and figuring out what he wants to do about its maintenance.
posted by gnomeloaf at 1:45 PM on July 6, 2016 [1 favorite]

From my limited experience, geocoins are specially designed coins and travel bugs are any old object you put the tag on, often a soft toy or key ring type thing. Coins are usually smaller so have the advantage of physically fitting into more caches. Also your dad might get a kick from a geocoin designed for his 70th. If you give a bunch to him, he can then place them in other caches he finds in the future. On the other hand, I think travel bugs have a better chance of getting moved on from cache to cache.

Does your dad like meeting other geocachers? If so, you could make an event cache for his birthday which is basically a meet up (and everyone who attends will get a smiley for the "find").
posted by pianissimo at 4:43 PM on July 6, 2016 [1 favorite]

This is all very very thoughtful of you, and I think you're a great kid!

You're not supposed to create a cache in a location where you can't regularly maintain it, so I would say vacation cabin cache is out, but you could certainly create a spectacular painted/decorated "ammo box" and gift that to him for him to use to create a new cache in a location that he may be eyeing.

Setting out the bugs with family sounds completely fantastic! I would recommend you have people initially place them in "premium" geocache sites at their locales, as the bugs are more likely to stay in circulation and to make it to their destination. He will have to have his account set up to "track" them so he can watch them travel and then know when to go find them if they make it to their intended destination, so make sure you've recorded their numbers. I absolutely believe they could make it from foreign countries, and frankly those are the most exciting bugs to watch travel!

Feel free to memail me if I can be of further help.
posted by rabidsegue at 5:02 PM on July 6, 2016 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Cool, thanks for the feedback.

Bonus question: is it possible to reassign ownership of a travel bug (or coin)? i.e. if the family sets this all up and releases the bugs, and I create a new account to be the owner, then after the party can I transfer them to his account? Basically, I just want to be able to set it up ahead of time, and have the bugs digitally exist, but not have them messaging back to him until after the reveal.
posted by aimedwander at 8:45 PM on July 6, 2016

Looks like you can transfer ownership.
posted by rabidsegue at 8:54 PM on July 6, 2016

Geocoins are likely to go missing as some folks (or kids) do not understand that they are meant to travel and will collect them. You'd want something that no one would be interested in collecting to attach to a travel bug. Fist-sized is probably too big as that won't fit in most caches and therefore won't get placed or moved on. I'd recommend getting an ammo can (the favored container, can be found in surplus stores), filling it with travel bugs that you have not registered but that are attached to things that would mean something in relation to your dad or your family's relationship with your dad, and letting him register the bugs as he's more familiar with the system. You could hide the cache in the woods and give him the GPS coordinates but if you register that cache on the geocaching site, other players will find it first.

Coordinating efforts between family members would mean a bunch of people would need to become familiar with the system and register on the site, which would be a pain if they are not interested.

Your dad, if he has logged "5 finds in every county of $state," is an experienced cacher. You may want to have a pathtag designed for him. This is personal swag, left by experienced cachers in favorite hides.
posted by Morrigan at 5:40 AM on July 7, 2016 [1 favorite]

> You may want to have a pathtag designed for him. This is personal swag, left by experienced cachers in favorite hides

Seconding this; those are always fun to find. Geocoins are cool even if they're going to go missing; here's an older page with some still-working links.
posted by The corpse in the library at 2:58 PM on July 9, 2016

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