Have you noticed a lot of power trails lately? Or maybe you are finding caches everywhere including the ever so delightful guardrail cache? You are not imagining an increase in geocaches, there has indeed been tremendous growth in cache placement in the last year. According to Groundspeaks history of geocaching.com it took the site from September 2nd, 2000 to March 9th 2010 to reach 1,000,000 cache listings. In just over nine months geocaching.com has added 25% more geocaches to the database. As of December 5th, 2010 geocaching.com lists 1,252,204 active geocaches on that site. While the number of caches is smaller the site opencaching.us is also seeing rapid growth. (note: the exponential growth actually appears to be slowing)
What is accounting for the rapid growth in cache placements? In talking with my geocaching friends I don’t hear a lot of them tell me they are placing more caches. From time to time someone with thousands of finds will place a cache. That doesn’t account for this kind of growth. I think the growth is coming from people that are new to geocaching.
I was at an event in Bolton, Ontario on Friday and a recent school project came up. The class in question released about 50 caches many of which were of poor quality. Coordinates were way off, containers were not waterproof, maintenance was not performed, one was even placed on the hiders private property without his parent’s permission. This was contrasted with a series of geocaches in Brantford, Ontario that were well done. Great containers, accurate coords, etc. The difference was in the number of finds by the teacher. It is important that new entrants to geocaching learn proper techniques for cache placement and maintenance. Who is going to teach the new entrants?
With that kind of growth is it any wonder that Garmin sees geocaching as a viable market for their products? Groundspeak has a long history of supporting grass roots groups and associations. Groundspeak provides support so that “their grandchildren will be able to enjoy the game”. What will Garmin do to support the community when they enter the market? Garmin certainly sees geocaching as a way to sell more devices but will they take responsibility for advocating safe, ethical play the way Groundspeak does? Only time will tell.