My last couple of caches have been relatively mundane (though, I did get an FTF in there for one of them so I’ve got that going for me, which is nice) so, instead of talking about my “adventures,” I’m thinking about caching and cachers in the greater sense. I’ve had a question rattling around my head for a very long time and I’ve never put it to anyone else before, but I think I will now because why not? Especially now, because there seems to be an upswing of people getting into caching thanks to the age of cholera. I’ve noticed a lot more finders on logs in the area that I’ve never seen or heard of before and when I look at their profiles (because I’m interested in stats, but I’m not?), they’re usually under 20 finds. I know a good number of cachers who have find totals that are much lower than mine, but who have done things I’m envious of. I’ve met long time cachers who have good find counts that, when averaged over the length of time they’ve been caching, don’t seem all that high. And, of course, there are definitely some cachers, especially newer ones who I think are casual about the entire thing. But, of course, I have little room to talk because, despite the things I’ve done, I haven’t even been doing this for two years yet (next month, folks!). So here’s my question:
What differentiates a geocacher from someone who merely geocaches?
Think about it for a minute. I bet you have this idea in your head, even if it hasn’t been examined or defined. You think about someone and you think They’re a cacher, but you think about someone else and think That’s just a casual. Is it based on find count? Or variety of finds? Does number of finds per day change your thinking? Or longevity of caching? Sure, the badges and belts on Project-GC give you a good feeling of whether someone is serious or not, but even there, there is a line, fuzzy as it may be, that has to be crossed before it meets your qualifications. And it can vary widely from person to person and with the types of accomplishment (for lack of a better term).
Using myself as an example, I didn’t stop considering myself as a new cacher until I hit a thousand caches. Even now, I consider myself a journeyman (and a quite new one at that). I’ve talked with other cachers who I consider to be masters who still consider themselves as less than. My own find count, while not insubstantial, is dwarfed by more cachers that I know than not. But I also have a few serious accomplishments to my name (the TCC not least among them). That also being said, I’ve considered myself a geocacher for a very long time, long before I hit that thousand mark. For me personally, what differentiates a cacher from someone who caches is opinions. I think that someone who merely caches does just that: picks up caches and puts little or no thought into it. Someone who has 5000 caches but they’re all LPCs wouldn’t impress me all that much (unless, of course, that was their specific aim, in which case that would be oddly impressive). Once someone has started putting enough thought into what they’re doing to have formed their own ideas of what is “good” and “bad,” “right” and “wrong,” “clever” or “stupid” about caching, caches, or even other cachers’ approaches, I think that they’ve made that leap. But, then again, as with so many things in geocaching, that’s just my opinion and I recognize there are a few fuzzy bits around that definition.
But now, I put it to you. What do you think differentiates a geocacher from someone who merely geocaches? I know you’ve thought about it. Let’s hear it!