We started geocaching in 2006, well before the last Leap Day rolled around in 2008. I don’t recall a lot of “noise” back then about making sure to get out to find a geocache or attend a geocaching event on Leap Day. Flash forward four years and it seems a lot of folks are planning ahead to ensure they can log at least one “found it” or “attended” log on February 29th – including us! As you can see, February 29th is one of 73 days still showing a “0” on our statistics page.
In light of the many blog entries, tweets and forum posts encouraging all of us to go geocaching on February 29, I’ve been giving some thought to why Leap Day has such a high profile this time around. After all, it’s the third Leap Day since Dave Ulmer placed the very first geocache in the woods in Oregon on May 3, 2000. It seems to me that a few things are coming into play:
- Since 2008, there’s been a tremendous increase in the number of geocaches out there for all of us to find. While plenty of players are content to rack up numbers, others are continually looking for ways to make the game more challenging. One such way is challenge caches: these unknown/mystery/puzzle type caches generally are at the posted coordinates but require the cacher to meet other requirements before they can log the challenge cache. One sub-group of challenge caches is based on filling in every day on your “Days of the Year” grid, which means a lot of geocachers need just one more day filled in before they can go after their local 366 challenge cache. The Calgary cache that currently most closely fits this category is GC2THDD – The “Cache Every Day of the Year” Challenge placed by green ducks in April 2011.
- I suspect another reason is that geocaching.com now automatically includes statistics on the geocaching profile pages for all premium members. Until 2011, cachers who were into this sort of thing had to use another piece of software to generate their statistics and then copy / paste the html code to their geocaching.com profile page. Universally available statistics have quite likely prompted many players to put at least a bit of focus into completing their “Days of the Year” grid.
- There are a lot more geocachers out there than there were in 2008 and simple demographics are at work to increase the profile of geocaching on Leap Day.
- Finally, Groundspeak is actively promoting geocaching on Leap Day, with the incentive of a special Leap Day Souvenir for our profile pages and a record-breaking attempt to double the number of geocaching accounts recording a “found it” or “attended” log on Leap Day. My prediction is that they’ll way more than double the number who took part in 2008.
What do you think? If you have other theories about why Leap Day geocaching has such a high profile this time around, please share them with a comment.
One last thought…if you haven’t placed a new geocache in a while, perhaps give some thought to creating a new 366-Day challenge geocache. I think it’s an automatic 5-star difficulty cache and by being quite deliberate about your placement you might just be able to create a difficulty / terrain combination that will make it a little easier for geocachers in your area to complete the Fizzy Challenge (stay tuned for more on that in a future post).