Monday, July 19, 2010

Trackable Items Are Not Swag

I've mentioned before that geocaching in Okinawa seems to have a uniqueness that may cause this hobby to appear dull when Stateside.  I consider myself a bit spoiled here; we have trackable items in most of the caches here, the core group of cachers is very friendly, and almost all of the caches here are placed at real points of interest.

One thing that I have noticed when it comes to trackables (geocoins and travel bugs), is that they should not, but sometimes are counted as swag.  Let me back the truck up here--Swag is the goodies that people place in a geocache, and the premise is that you should leave something in trade if you take something.  For example, if I see a keychain flashlight in a cache, I should leave something equally nifty if I pick it up. Trackable items, however, are NOT swag; the owner of a trackable item wants it to move, almost without exception.  Imagine, if you will, a trinket that you can track around the globe, and you find out that it just sits in one spot because nobody feels like they have something of equal "value" to trade for it.  

Trackable items do not need to be traded for, but some cache owners think that they do.  I've seen some experienced cachers place bulletins on their caches that state something along the lines of, "Don't take the last geocoin out of this cache; remember to trade up or trade even!"  If my geocoin were the last/sole trackable item in a cache, I would still want it to get moved; I wouldn't really care if a cacher left something in its place.

I can understand the desire to treat trackable items like swag, since trackables often draw cachers to a geocache, but that should not be a policy, nor the nucleus of geocaching.  I suppose that, since we all play this game in our own way, one could simply ignore the desires of a cache owner and grab the last trackable out of a cache, but would that be in keeping with the spirit of the game?  

What say you about trackable items?  Do you always grab them, or just "discover" them if you don't feel like you can move it quickly?  Do you feel like you should leave a trackable if you pick one up?


Erika Jean said...

I hate when people put the rules about swapping TBs on their page. Even the "Motels" I think you should be free to take ALL the TBS if you want!! :-)

Sumajman said...

I agree with you and Erika. Trackables need to move along on their mission. They are not the property of the cache owner. Since I'm traveling to South America most of the time I read the goals beforehand to make sure that it is not contrary to the owners' wishes to take it south. I did that once and the owner wasn't too pleased. I saw his point. If it is open to traveling south, I'll pick it up whether I have another trackable to trade or not.

Unknown said...

It's actually against the guidelines to have travel bug requirements listed on the cache description. If you feel strongly enough about a cache that shouldn't list those requirements, send a note to the local reviewer and they will ask: cache owner to change the description accordingly. I've done this once, and it's nice because then the owner doesn't potentially interact with yourself negatively, just the reviewer.