Factors driving the decline in the publication of geocaches



Gilburn AS (2019) Factors driving the decline in the publication of geocaches. Journal of Outdoor Recreation and Tourism, 27, Art. No.: 100222.

Geocaching is a popular outdoor recreational pastime that uses GPS to navigate to specific coordinates where the geocacher usually has to find a hidden container. Geocaching has many benefits including promoting exercise and learning. The number of new geocaches being published has started to decline. Here I present the first analysis of what factors might be contributing to that decline. Data on the geocache placement patterns of 116 geocachers were derived using the geocaching statistics analytical tool, Project GC. Two generalised linear mixed models were conducted on the resulting dataset. The study suggested that more active participants in the game are more likely to hide geocaches. The rate of hiding of geocaches declines over time. A quadratic relationship was identified with number of caches owned which suggests that individual geocachers have limits to the number of geocaches they can maintain. Perhaps, surprisingly the study suggested that cache saturation was only having a relatively small impact compared to these other potential drivers of the decline. Individual limits on geocaches owned and reduced activity over time appear to be the key drivers of the decline. Consequently the study suggests that a continuing influx of new participants to the pastime is required to maintain high levels of geocache placements. A range of measures to make geocaching more attractive to both current and future participants is suggested, for example increasing efforts to remove abandoned geocaches, making it easier for geocachers to identify the locations of high quality geocaches and increasing the variety of geocache types by the introduction of Citizen Science geocaches. By contrast, the study suggests that relaxing the rules on cache saturation is not likely to have much of an impact upon future levels of geocache placement. Management implications This study has identified keys factors associated with the current decline in geocache placements and has identified alterations to the management of the game that could mediate some of these effects. It remains to be seen whether or not the planet will ever have 4,000,000 active geocaches. The current trajectory suggests not, however actions could be taken which could alter this trajectory. In particular this study suggests key to continue to attract new participants to the pastime. This could be done by increasing cache type variety and improving the quality of existing geocaches and the ability of geocachers to identify their locations.

Geocaching; Location-based gaming; GPS; Outdoor recreation; Motivations

Journal of Outdoor Recreation and Tourism: Volume 27

Publication date30/09/2019
Publication date online28/05/2019
Date accepted by journal15/05/2019

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Dr Andre Gilburn

Dr Andre Gilburn

Senior Lecturer, Biological and Environmental Sciences