Geocaching in a COVID-19 World
*Update: April 2021: The Sara-Cap Regional NYS Parks Challenge will return starting Memorial Day*
The year 2020 created challenges for everyone in just about everything. We have a whole new way of looking at the world we live in and what it takes to be safe in it. Yet, in spite of the fact that the game of Geocaching is predominantly outdoors, the COVID-19 Pandemic has had quite an effect.
There is a social side to the game of Geocaching that had to come to a screeching halt due to COVID-19. That is, the Event’s that gather Geocachers around the world en masse to participate in games and social events and challenges. These events were a way to get to know Geocachers from all over the world. And YES, people do travel from all over for these events, and I have to say, the friendships made at these events are unique.
I myself traveled to Australia in 2019 and was greeted by a fellow Geocacher that I met in NY at an event. She was eager to show me the caches in her area of Adelaide, SA. She was even willing to throw an event so that I could meet with other Australian Geocachers while I was visiting. I passed on the event, but took her up on spending the day Geocaching with her. Let me tell you, she took me to places that I would have never found in any tour book. Into the mountains, wine country and a Wild Animal Park where I got to hold a Koala.
When COVID-19 lockdowns began Groundspeak (which is the parent company of Geocaching) immediately shut down all events. They were not going to take any chances with people gathering and possibly getting sick. They also shut down publishing any new Geocaches. Early on, the way in which the virus was transmitted wasn’t entirely clear, so Groundspeak didn’t want to be drawing people to any new physical Geocache in the field. There was no way to shut down those that already existed, but they did advise using all precautions being advised by the Health Departments in each Country.
As the lock downs were lifted it was still hard to decide exactly how to handle things. Because this is a Worldwide game, what you decide can vary by what is going on in each part of the World. So Groundspeak deferred to the local reviewers to decide what they felt was best in their local area.
Today, there are still no events being planned or published. But, people are getting out, and finding and placing Geocaches again. Which is good to see. Groundspeak began publishing new Geocaches in our area in November, but it varies in other parts of the world.
For me, getting out in the air is my respite in all this COVID-19 mayhem, so I am happy to be able to get out and find new Geocaches. If you’re going out to Geocache, remember to be safe. Keep a mask on if you are with others, minimize any chance of contracting or spreading the Virus. Let’s just be safe out there! Happy Caching!
*This article originally appeared in the Friends of Schoharie Crossing Winter 2021 Newsletter.
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