S1E7: Geocaching Swag

Do you ever wonder why people leave toys and trinkets in caches? What are those items called? What exactly is SWAG? What can you leave in a geocaching? What shouldn’t you leave in a geocache? What are the rules for geocachine SWAG? What can be used as SWAG? Is home made SWAG okay? This episode we look at the do’s and don’t of SWAG and talk about some ideas for SWAG items.

Places and Things Mentioned
Broemmelsiek Park

Sources
– “Swag to Leave in Geocaches“, by Audrey Kettler, geocaching.com
– “Rules and Tips Regarding SWAG“, awesomegeocaching.com
– “Geocaching Trade Items: Things You Should Never Put in a Cache and a Few That You Should“, Podcacher.com

Cache Highlight: “Skunk Bunk

Transcript

What is SWAG?  In the world of geocaching, SWAG stands for Stuff We All Get.  It’s the fun little trinkets that you sometimes find in caches that you can swap out for other items.

Rules for SWAG

The simplest rule is probably the most important.  If you take something leave something.  If you take a SWAG item you need to replace it with something of equal or greater value than what you took.  There’s nothing more disappointing than a SWAG cache that has no SWAG, especially for any kids out caching. 

Keep your swag family friendly.  A lot of people cache with their kids so keep it PG.

Do NOT place anything liquid or perishable in a cache. 

Respect the cache size.  Some small caches are capable of fitting small SWAG items in it but if it doesn’t fit don’t force it.  Forcing oversize SWAG into a container could damage the container or prevent it from closing correctly which could leave the contents open to the elements.

Ideas for SWAG

Keychains, foreign currency, small toys such as cars, bouncy balls, plastic bugs, small rubber ducks, finger puppets.  The list of possible toys goes on and on.  You can usually find bags of small inexpensive toys sold as party favors in the party supply isle of the store.  Stickers or mini note pads or activity books, even trading cards can be a fun find for kids but make sure they are in a seal baggy to avoid the getting ruined by moister. 

There are some great ideas for home made SWAG on the internet.  Some ideas include painted rocks, necklaces, bracelets, keychains, even home made games like mini tic tac toe.  There are some pictures in the show notes of some examples.  Pinterest is a great place to look.  Check out the Geocache Adventures Pinterest boards so more swag ideas.

I mentioned finding items for SWAG in the party isle section at the store and home made swag.  Some other places to look for SWAG items, geocaching.com, Amazon, and Orientale Trading Company.  Along with assorted small toys that I keep in my caching kit, I also have some small zen coins that I got off Amazon.  I like them because they are inexpensive and small, about the size of a nickel.  So they fit in caches that some of the toys I carry might not fit. 

Items to avoid

There are some items that just shouldn’t be used for SWAG.  Never use fireworks, lighters, or knives.  I have seen some caches were people have left small fuses or flashlight bulbs.  These are a bad idea as they could break inside the cache if the cache gets dropped and someone could get cut.  Also, most people probably aren’t going to see these as fun items to trade for, especially for kids. 

Remember, no liquid or perishable items so no bubbles and no candy.  Nearly all kids love bubbles but, the container could leak and leave a mess in the cache and possibly damage the contents.  Candy may be popular with kids but first of all, as a mom I’m not going to let my kid take candy that I don’t know where it came from or who old it is and I’m guessing most parents would feel that way.  Second of all, you’re leaving a nice picnic for some ants to get into and infest the cache and third, if moister gets into the cache the candy may become sticky or gooey and leave a mess in the cache.

Some additional things you can do

Besides the general rules mentioned earlier, there are a few other things you can do regarding SWAG to be a courteous cacher.  If you see some SWAG that you think may be inappropriate, send the cache owner a message and ask them to check on it.  Caches that get flagged as having inappropriate SWAG/contents can be temporarily disabled by geocahing.com until the cache owner resolves the issue.  Before flagging a cache for inappropriate content, you might send the cache owner a message as a courtesy first.  Then if they fail to respond you  can get on geocaching.com and send them an email.  They can then get a reviewer involved.

Consider leaving something even if you don’t take something or leave a little extra.  If there’s nothing in the cache you want to take, that doesn’t mean you can’t still leave something if you have extra SWAG with you.  Leaving without taking or leaving a little extra helps the cache owner keep the SWAG stocked and helps keep it enjoyable for all who find the cache.  If I see a cache is a low on SWAG, I like to leave a few extra zen coins to give it a little more stock.

What do you do with your SWAG once you have it?  There are a few things that come to mind.     My son has a basket he keeps his geocaching treasures in.  I’ve also seen online ideas for shadow boxes, dedicated shelves, and bulletin boards where you can display your finds depending on what’s suitable for you.  If later one you decide you don’t want it, you can always use it to swap for SWAG from another cache or you can hide your own SWAG cache and fill it with items you’ve found.  Or pass it on to another cacher that you think might enjoy it.  Whatever you decide to do when it comes to SWAG, have fun and remember to be courteous and thoughtful about what SWAG you leave behind.

The cache was called “Skunk Bunk”

Cache ID: GC35XE9

Difficulty rating 1.5, Terrain rating 1.5

The description read:

Pepe Le Pew doesn’t live here, although it could be a good home for a skunk.

To my knowledge, this is the first geocache to be placed in Broemmelsiek Park.

Broemmelsiek Park spans 494 acres with more than seven miles of multi-use trails (hiking, bicycling and equestrian use). It also has an Off-Leash Dog Area (with a small water features where dogs may swim), numerous picnic shelters available for rental and the County’s first public Astronomy Viewing Area. There are also several fishing lakes.

Directions to the park: From Highway 40/61, go south on Highway DD for approximately four miles to the new Main Entrance. Look for the sign and silo. Turn right into the park entrance and follow the road around the lake to a parking lot and pavilion on your right.

Approximate coordinates of parking lot: N38 42.891 W090 48.521

You are looking for a lock-n-lock type container. It is located along the trail and intended to be an easy find. Since the trail has overgrown during recent construction, a few yards of bushwhacking may be required to reach the final. The cache is seeded with some goodies, so families can take the kids on a very short walk to find some treasure! The best path to the cache starts near the pavilion and looks like an old jeep trail.

Please use geoflauge to cover the cache well.

What used to be a 15 minute walk to the cache is now just a minute or less!

Hint: Hollow Log

I was spending the afternoon out with my son and husband and we were out doing some geocaching.  We were working our way to New Melle, Mo and stopped along the way to find this one.  I targeted this cache because of it’s size and knew it should have some SWAG that my son would be able to pick from.  The description was pretty accurate and we located the cache pretty quickly.  My son was the first one to spot it and he was very excited that he had found it all on his own. 

The hollow log mentioned in the hint was more of a rotten log at this point with the cache sitting on top of it.  It was a small lock and lock box and when we opened it we found a hand full of toys and a few other things.  Someone had previously decided to leave a cough drop in the cache, and with all the resent rains, the moister had melted the cache leaving everything sticky.  I found the unopened cough drop wrapper which is how I knew what happened.  On top of everything being sticky, it was filled with ants.  I’m not entirely sure if they were attracted to the melted cough drop or the small pack of gummy bears someone had left.  There was also a single does of some sort of medicine, still wrapped, left in the cache.  I can’t say if they were left by the same person or multiple people, but none of them should have been left there.

I pulled out the cough drop wrapper, the medicine, and the gummy bears.  After my son picked out the toy he wanted, I left some replacement SWAG and replaced the geocache.  I through away the wrapper, medicine, and gummy bears in a near by trash can and noted that I had removed them from the cache in my log.  We then went on to enjoy some of the park’s trails before continuing out trip to New Melle.  I was really disappointed to find the inappropriate stuff left in the cache but fortunately there was plenty of appropriate stuff there so my son was still able to pick something.  He would have been very disappointed if the only stuff we found had been the medicine and old gummy bears and hadn’t been allowed to take anything.  Any kid would have been if that had been all they found.  So place, if you decide to swap out some SWAG, make sure it’s something that should actually be there.

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