Top 9 HQ Highlights of 2017

Geocaching HQ stepped up their geocaching game, our geocaching game, this year. They created, updated, rewarded, and reactivated multiple aspects of the caching system. Since the end of year is all about reflection and giving thanks, here are my top 9 favorite actions by HQ.

Photo Credit: Wikipedia

9. Where in the World is Signal the Frog?
Signal got around! Unfortunately, I did not. However, giving geocachers more reasons to get together and share our hobby can only be considered awesome. Canada and Germany both received shoutouts for their traditions, perhaps giving others insights into their customs. People around the world had reasons to try new food and learn something new.

8. Souvenirs
I’m not a souvenir hunter, but I appreciate ways to gain a new symbol on my profile. If you have cached in Namibia, Malta, Malaysia, Liechtenstein, or Argentina, you gained a country souvenir. We reached 3 million active geocaches, spurring another souvenir; cache owners also received a special souvenir as a thank you. CITOs and International EarthCache Day occurred again, as well as GIFF and International Geocaching Day. I scored my first CITO and GIFF, making 2017 a memorable year for souvenirs for me. We also received souvenirs for the summer campaign, the Blue Switch Day (aka remembering the day that the government disabled selective availability, increasing GPS accuracy). This was quite the haul for souvenirs and many more great reasons to meet up with geocachers.

Here are a few of my 2017 souvenir additions.

7. GeoTours
Ohio, New York, Florida, Utah, Wisconsin, and more states have embraced geocaching-tourism, building experiences in their states, counties, and cities to encourage visitors and enjoy what their areas have to offer. HQ posted pictures on their channels, showing off these hides at historical sites, geological wonders, and meaningful locations. In other words, I’m insanely jealous of those who live close to these GeoTours and can only hope to complete a few in the near future.

6. The Lost Treasure of Mary Hyde
Mary Hyde, that social pirate, introduced us all to the friend league and gold coins. Using social media, I easily completed the required coin goals each month based on qualifications for certain geocache type finds and dropping/releasing trackables. This was fun way to teach the community how to use a new feature on Plus, we received a free tracking code if we solved the puzzle discovered on the maps’ treasure pieces (aka souvenirs), which was a sweet, free bonus.

5. Project Ape
On August 19th, 2017, the Project Ape geocache was reactivated at the Going Ape Mega near HQ. This was a extremely noteworthy highlight, since this game piece was not only found, retrieved, and replaced into the game, but HQ also reached out to the geocaching community and asked for their opinions. After much debate, the container was re-hid at its original location, adding one more find to many cachers’ bucket lists.

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4. Trackable Promotions
HQ partnered with some incredible companies, giving away airplane tickets, a cruise, cash prizes, autographed books, gift vouchers, food baskets, and more. These promos were so fun to me, and I lucked out in receiving trackables from Magic (both promotions!), Hurtigruten, Mountain Warehouse, Dream Big, and Urban Adventures. They challenged us to take these TBs along for adventures, capturing their specific prompts, and then share pictures using unique hashtags online. In return, we get to enjoy photos of people’s interpretations of these prompts and add thousands of traveling pieces to our game.

3. Updated Geocache Hiding Guidelines
The amount of time it took to edit and clarify the hiding guidelines, reduce the word count by 15%, and also create a more organized layout impressed many. HQ’s updates helped new hiders have an easier time navigating the site and understanding how to hide a geocache, a complicated process to a noob. We’ve all been there. Sometimes this process is too difficult, resulting in a frustrated CO, a one-time CO, and less caches – I’m happy to see HQ working on assisting beginners, and seasoned cachers, better understand the cache hiding procedure.

2. Dashboard and Profile Updates
HQ added an events calendar, improved functionality, allowed different files to be sent in the message center, developed the edit cache page, allowed players to personalize their profiles, and so much more! Even though this year saw the retirement of the classic app on March 23rd, which totally shook me, and probably many others, because we loved that app, I now see the reason behind this switch. HQ worked hard to enhance the foundation of our game, really focusing on the beginner cacher, creating a welcoming and simpler experience when starting our (rather complex) hobby. This is great – we can always use more players, more caches, and a more diverse game board. As a side note, I loved the update or coding or whatever HQ updated so that a cache can only be logged once. In the past, this sometimes threw me off my find count, since a log would randomly double-log at times. Thanks, all those computer science geocaching lovers!

1. Virtual Rewards
HQ listened to the desire for more virtual geocaches, and they rewarded some of the best hiders and reviewers on the game board, adding potentially 4,000 new virtuals across the world. Woah! I’ve only found two virtuals thus far in my caching career, but I’ve loved them. I think they are the future, and the fact that HQ heard geocachers’ voiced opinions on bringing this type back, means a lot in my eyes. I’m excited to see what they do to keep our game fresh and exciting in the future.

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What were your favorite changes or additions made to geocaching in 2017?

Thanks Geocaching HQ for all you do, all the time and energy you put into making our game even greater! The first day of 2018 starts off with a new souvenir, plus next year Signal celebrates Australian Day, and the USA will see its first Giga. I’m excited to see what else the new year brings!

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