What is a treasure hunt without a treasure? Most geocachers will say that they take part simply to experience the thrill of the chase, but there is no denying that opening a well stocked cache is an experience not to be sniffed at. The things that you will see when you do are commonly called swag (which is shorthand for ‘Stuff we all get’). As a finder you are welcome to take anything you see (except for the logbook of course). The only condition is that you replace it with something of equal or greater value. It is also considered polite to make a note in the logbook describing what you took and what you left.
There are many different things that can be found in caches and it is very difficult to provide a comprehensive list. The kinds of treasures found in caches are truly as diverse as the human imagination. Some more common items include:
Batteries (good for powering up the GPS on the return trip!)
CDs or DVDs
Some geocachers take great pride in crafting, designing or choosing a signature item. This is something that reflects their identity and personality. Sometimes such items are nothing more than a business card while there are others that become collector’s items. These items can become so highly sought after that people will launch special expeditions to find as many of an individual’s caches as possible.
Geocachers often let their imaginations run wild when they decide on what to put in their caches. There are, however, some limits and most people are careful not to stray beyond them. It is generally agreed that the following items do not belong in a geocache:
Most people will immediately understand the rationale behind the prohibition of all of these items, except perhaps for the last. The reason that food is prohibited is the fact that it can spoil, ruining the contents of the cache in the process. Food can also present a tempting target to wild animals that may destroy part of the cache in their attempts to get at it.
It is important that you log your visit after finding a cache and looking through all the exciting swag! Almost all geocaches will contain a logbook (in micro–caches the ‘logbook’ will often be more like a ‘log roll’ made of rolled up sheets of paper!). The purpose of the logbook is to provide a space where you can record the details of your visit to the cache. You can write as little or as much as you want but the following basic details are usually included:
Date of visit
Names of the finders
Items left and/or taken
Most cache owners will appreciate it if you go beyond these bare bones details and write a little bit more about your search. Giving a description of things like the weather, the search process and things you saw along the way will all contribute to the ‘history’ of the cache. Whenever a logbook is filling up you can notify the owner of the cache of this fact when you report your visit on the Internet. The owner will replace it with a new one and keep the old one as an interesting record of the ‘life’ of the cache.