Guest Blog – What Makes My Favourite EarthCaches

A guest blog contributed by geoawareCA

Greetings.  My name is Sandra, also known as geoawareCA, and I am one of 32 active volunteer EarthCache Reviewers.  I have been reviewing EarthCaches for eleven years now, and in that time I have read and published thousands of EarthCache submissions.  My current review territory is Canada, but I have also assisted other EarthCache Reviewers around the world when help was needed.

Thank you to Jay from the LANMonkeys for inviting me to participate in this blog.  He asked me what my favourite EarthCaches always include.  What a great question.  I do enjoy reading about fascinating geological features in Canada and abroad, but a well constructed EarthCache listing can be a delight as well.  Here are some of the things that my favourite EarthCaches always include:

I love to see that the person submitting the EarthCache has reached out to the local land manager, explained the educational nature of EarthCaches, and obtained permission to post their EarthCache online.  In my experience, it is quite easy to obtain permission for an EarthCache.  Most land managers are excited to learn about the educational aspects of EarthCaches. This is also a great way to develop relationships between the parks and geocachers.  

Remember when I said I have read thousands of EarthCache listings?  I truly appreciate when the write up is short and to the point.  A well written EarthCache will focus on one particular geological aspect of the site. This could be as simple as an introductory paragraph with the general geology of the area, then a paragraph that provides the site specific geological lesson. A long write up isn’t necessarily better or more educational.  In fact, it likely means that the geocacher will just skip over the text and go straight to the logging tasks.  

Thought-Provoking Logging Tasks
Speaking of logging tasks, this is often the most challenging part of setting up an EarthCache.  Unlike a Virtual cache, where the goal of the logging tasks are just to prove that someone visited the site; the logging tasks for an EarthCache should prove that they learned a geological lesson from their visit. The best logging tasks will have visitors using the information from the EarthCache page, along with their observations at the site, to provide some sort of analysis of their own.  Open-ended questions like “Why do you think that …” are often the best.  

It is always helpful when the answers to the logging tasks are included in a Reviewer Note.  All Reviewer Notes are automatically archived when a cache is published, so there is no need to worry that anyone else will see them. It provides the Reviewer with a greater understanding of the lesson and assists in the review process.

It is also very helpful when source materials are referenced on the EarthCache page.  I have a strong interest in geology and have taken several university courses in geology and geography, but I am far from an expert in all aspects of Earth science. It helps to be able to fact check the information provided and can save time in the overall review process.

I look forward to learning about many more interesting geological features.  Keep submitting those great EarthCaches!
Sandra / geoawareCA

A huge thank-you to Sandra from myself and from the This is Planet Earth team for contributing this helpful and thought-provoking article to assist us all in creating better EarthCaches!
For more information on EarthCaching and to contribute to the discussion, make sure to check out the Facebook Community here, and visit the This is Planet Earth website for all the latest episodes and info.

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