How do you host a successful event? This guide will help you on your way, as well as provide great ideas for activities.
Organizing and participating in events is a very fun part of geocaching. People with a common interest gather to socialize, hang out and log caches together. Perhaps even to compete, trade coins and do other activities. It all makes the hobby more personal and versatile.
Another great aspect of events is that they don’ have to be held for a reason. Many larger gatherings are tied to a holiday, a yearly event or something else. But in fact, anyone can host an event at any time, simply to meet and greet other cachers. Something as simple as a picnic where everyone brings their own food, for example. The only rule on geocaching.com: you have to register it at least two weeks before the actual day.
But what does it actually take to pull off a successful event? It’s time to go through the planning one step at a time.
First of all, though basic events are fun, take some time to think about what your goal with the event is. You don’t want too few people who don’t “click” sitting there with nothing to do. Preparation is the key and make sure that you set your expectations as a host on the correct level. Take some time to reflect on the following:
- Event Size – How many participants can you expect? Geocachers can and should always log “will attend” in advance, which will give you a rough idea. But, almost always there will be many last-minute logs, some who arrive without having logged in advance, and of course some who can’t show up after all. Always bring too much material rather than too little, and count on more people than expected (but hey, don’t get your hopes up too high – it’s also easy to get disappointed).
- Location – Where will the event be held? If it’s in the outdoors, what happens if it rains? If there are many people, should you rent a place for the day? Smaller gatherings are usually held outside no matter the weather, while big ones may have a large indoor space.
- Activities – What’s going to happen during the event? Even a small gathering will instantly become more fun if there’s something going on, though just meeting and greeting is fun too. See “Activity Ideas” below.
- Food – Most events are long enough for food to be required. Will there be a nearby restaurant or café available? Will something be sold or served during the event? Even if people should bring their own food, will there be a grill or open fire available to cook on?
- Lodging – Who says that an event should last only for one day? If the happening is big, long or attracts people from far away, where will they stay? Have options and suggestions available.
- Parking – Essential for most people, and especially if there are many participants who will fight for the space.
What will happen during the event? It’s all up to you, but have something up your sleeve to avoid an awkward silence. Here are some ideas:
- New Caches – One of the most common activities is to release the coordinates for a few newly placed caches during the event. Make it an FTF hunt. Make time for people to be able to log the caches during the event, perhaps in groups, or end the event by making the coordinates public so that those who want to stay can do so, and those who want to hunt can leave without missing out. Usually, the caches are not published online until after the event.
- Quiz – These are easy and fun and will have the guests working together or competing against each other. Perhaps a walk with questions scattered around the area, or contests where people sitt and work in small groups. Have a look at our History Quiz. Or why not have people check off our 100 Things list or take our Geocaching Rank quiz to see who is the most hard-core cacher. Announce the results aloud and have some prizes. You’re sure to have some good laughs.
- Lectures – At bigger events, there might be someone there to talk about a specific aspect of caching or related subjects.
- Contests – Beside a quiz, consider a lottery or other form of game.
- CITO – Big CITO – Cache In Trash Out – events are held once a year around the world, but nothing is stopping you from hosting one at any time of the year. Make picking up trash a social happening and central activity of your event.
Beside the above suggestions, there are some things a lot of people think that yu simply “must” have at the event:
- Logbook – Just as with any cache, there should be a sheet of paper to sign.
- Coin and TB Table – A special corner for coins and travel bugs. If you don’t set one up, the participants will do it anyway, so might as well prepare for it. People who like trackables can log “discovered”, share codes and admire each other’s collections. Anyone can leave their trackables on the table and at the end of the event others are free to take them with them and move them on to other caches.
- Group Photo – You’ll want something to remember the event by, and a good image that can “represent” the event after it’s finished. Gather everyone around sometime during the middle of the event, when everyone’s there. Some always arrive late, others have to leave early.
Register the Event and Prepare the Cache Description
Now you have a good overview of your event and what it will be all about. Time to make it official!
Starting an event is practically just as simple as placing a cache. Instead of choosing “traditional” or “multicache” as the cache type, you pick “event” when you set up the cache page. And instead of having the coordinates point to a hide, you post the coordinates of where you’ll meet.
Don’t forget to:
- Set the date for when the event will take place.
- Put the time for when the event starts (and possibly when it ends) in the cache description.
- Describe in writing where the meeting place is, not to trust only the coordinates.
- Write what the participants should bring, for example food, type of clothes, etc.
- Mention if there’s a cost, and if so how much and what for.
- Tell what will happen during the event (or at least give an idea – no need to spoil it all).
- Describe parking possibilities.
Finally, remember that any event must be published at least two weeks prior to the event day.
But What If No One Shows?
That would be unfortunate. But don’t worry. There’s a saying that if you host it, they will come – and that’s really true! Even in remote locations there’s likely to be at least a couple of people. Of course, you should plan accordingly though. Here are some things to keep in mind that might affect the visitor count:
- The Location – A large city is naturally likely to result in more participants than a coutryside event.
- The Date – Weekdays or weekends? Holidays or workdays? Aim to attract people from far away for a holiday event or many locals during an evening when everyone’s likely to be home.
- Time of Day – Early evenings for smaller events or midday for big ones. Try to think of when people are busy and when they’re not.
- Demands on the Visitors – The less the better.
- Attractive Activities – Prizes, free food, sponsored stuff, etc. Most people are there to meet fellow geocachers, though.
After the Event
So the event came and went, you had a blast and it’s now time to let the whole thing sink in. But is there more to do?
- Clean-Up – Leave the nature the way it was when you came.
- Archive – An event should be archived by the host no less than a month after it was arranged. But remember not to do it straight away. Let participants log “attended” first and thank you for a lovely gathering.
And that’s it! You’ve successfully pulled off a great event!