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The Secret Guide to Making Better Caches

By Dave (part of Team Ecylram)

One of the most enjoyable aspects of geocaching is placing a cache that cachers love finding. Elevating your caches to the next level is not as hard as it may seem and the process can be a lot of fun. All it takes is changing your mindset from “creating caches” to “creating caching experiences”. Think about what you like when you go caching:

* Did the cache title or description make you interested in finding the cache?

* Was the search enjoyable?

* Was the container interesting or "special" in some fashion?

* Were you glad you visited the cache site?

* Did you get what you expected? Or better?

* Did the cache inspire you in some way?

Sadly, for many caches, most or all of these elements are often found to be lacking, resulting in a lackluster find. However, some caches manage to create enjoyable experiences from beginning to end and those caches are remembered and gain “favorite” points.

Creating a memorable caching experience is not hard if you follow these simple steps the next time you create a geocache:

1. General Location – Find a location that geocachers will find interesting. Here are some ideas:

a. Scenic spots, good hikes, etc.

b. Historical locations (description should provide historical information on the site)

c. Humorous locations – signs, buildings, etc.

d. Interesting building, unusual landscape, or something else unique

e. When in doubt, ask yourself “Will some cachers find this location interesting?”

2. Hiding Spot – Once you’ve found a general location, the next step is to find a good hiding spot within the area. Here are some tips to help you:

a. Protect the cache, the hide location should not draw the attention of muggles.

b. Pick hides where cachers won’t draw the attention of muggles when searching.

c. Do something unique. Everybody has already seen tons of hides in lamp post skirts, bushes and trees.

d. Make use of the existing features. Find a nook, crevice, or blind spot that can hold a container.

e. Consider all four seasons. Will snow, water, or changes in the landscaping compromise the hide?

f. Although difficult to pull off, is there a way to hide the cache in plain sight?

3. Container – Now that you’ve identified a an optimal hiding spot, what size of container will fit and keep the log protected? Some tips/ideas on containers:

a. Choose the largest size container suitable for the location that can still be well hidden. It’s a darn shame to waste a location that can hold a "regular" Lock-n-Lock or Ammo can on a "micro" pill bottle. Swag traders of all ages will appreciate the larger container.

b. Fit the container to the experience. For example, one cacher placed a geocache near a radar dome that looked like a golf ball. The container used was a real golf ball.

c. Fit the container to the theme of the cache title/ description. For example, one cacher used a container that looked like a cell phone for a hide by a cell phone store.

d. The container chosen MUST protect the contents from the elements (unless the container is somehow sheltered). Do not count on baggies to protect the log and swag.

e. Pick a container that will survive, over time, in that location. Cachers don’t enjoy finding rusty, leaky, or otherwise damaged containers.

4. Log Books – This is often overlooked, but you can also use unique log books. Creative cachers have made logs that looked like ancient scrolls, on unusual paper, or were handcrafted/decorated like a scrapbook. Be creative with your log book. For example, use an order pad as a log for cache with a restaurant theme.

5. Description – This is one of the most important aspects of placing a cache. It sets the tone and mood of the find. The description is your marketing piece. Cachers will choose to search or not search for your cache based on what you write.

For many, writing descriptions is the hardest aspect of placing cache. Here are some tips to help you write better descriptions:

a. Write something about the location if it is relevant to the cache. If this is a scenic spot write something about area or what drew you to the place a cache there.

b. If this is a historical cache, write about the history. The web is full of resources for data and write as if you are having a conversation. Don’t make it sound like a boring college lecture and don’t copy/paste the information word-for-word…make it your own.

c. If the cache is humorous in nature. Use the description as an opportunity to emphasize the humor. Puns, word play, funny stories, etc. are all allowed.

d. If you use a creative container, give a hint in the description that there is a special find to be made.

e. Always write something in a description that will make the finder WANT to find your cache.

f. Use the description to tie all the elements of your hide together.

g. Fictional stories that paint a mental picture that fits the container and the hide are a good alternative.

h. Include relevant pictures and graphics. They break up the text and make the description more likely to be read.

6. The Hint – If you choose to leave a hint, make it accurate and least somewhat helpful. Try to provide it in a creative way. For example, don’t say “it’s in the tree” or “it’s on the wire”. Instead, write something creative that might take a moment of thought such as “Oh Tannenbaum” or “Hung out to dry”.

7. The Title – The title is the cherry on the sundae and it’s also what motivates the cacher to click on the link to read your description. If you don’t have any idea on what to write just ask yourself “If this cache were a book, what would I name it”? The better the title, the people who will search out your cache. So take your time in picking a good title.

Creating a good cache is about creating an “memorable experience” for the cacher. The more you intertwine the seven above steps in creating the cache, the more the cache will be enjoyed!

Finally, remember these two points:

* Don’t try to please everybody. It can’t be done.
* Don’t forget to enjoy the process. If it isn't fun, it’s work.

Article content (C) 2011 by their respective owners. Reproduction without expressed, written permission is strictly prohibited.

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