Have Challenges become the Poor Man’s Puzzle?

ook!  I have floated this comment out to a few groups (that don’t always yell at me) and decided to post this moderate rant here.  As I talk with the people in charge of the upkeep of IndianaGeocaching.com they comment about the proliferation of “challenges” throughout the state.  The list posted on this site keeps growing and has almost taken on a life of its own.  Some people even get grumpy if their just published challenge hasn’t been put on the list.  Listening to Bruce go on (and on) about this I started coming up with a strange thought.  Being a monkey strange thoughts come easy to me.  Have Challenges – not the old red cape ones, but the “get so many caches” type, become a way to avoid difficult puzzles and still get the “Unknown” icon?

I’m not saying a good challenge isn’t a bad thing, I’m not saying that we all shouldn’t strive to be better cachers.  I’m just saying that in my history challenges seemed to have multiplied like rabbits and I’m wondering why.

As of this article there are almost 200 Challenges around the state of Indiana.  The variety is interesting-

  • Find so many of a certain type – The Challenge of the Century series is a great example
  • Time based challenges – 366 day challenges, fill your Geocaching calendar
  • The traditional challenges like Counties, DeLorme, Jasmer (finding a cache placed each month since May 2000), Fizzy (filling in the D/T matrix), etc.
  • lots of other challenges calling for so many different things…

Many challenges make sense are “Logical” and really do push you to be a better more well-rounded cacher.  Others in my opinion don’t – and I say this after putting out a couple “Challenge of Decade” caches in which you only have to find 10 caches- they at least make sense.  In my not so humble opinion if you need to take more than 140 characters to explain the challenge maybe it isn’t a valid challenge.  Maybe, just maybe, it’s some way so you can boost your ego and make yourself feel clever (like many puzzle creator do).  Do people really need to spell out their best friend from high school’s middle name using the first letters of cache names to prove they are a good cacher?  No that isn’t a challenge, but I bet it will be soon.  Do you really need to take an entire page to explain the rules for your challenge?  

So this brings me back to my original thought are these just “puzzles” for people who have trouble solving or creating puzzles?  In the past I would say no,  Indy Magic Man created the first Challenge of the Century caches, and some of the most clever puzzles this monkey has tried (and failed) to wrap his head around.  But puzzles are hard, and one thing I have noticed is puzzles tend to be skipped over by some cachers because they are looking for the quick find.

Is it distance causing an issue, many of these new challenges are repeats of other challenges, just in a different location.  Almost a “I have 100 traditional caches but don’t want to drive all the way to Indy get that challenge cache, so I’ll just put my own challenge in the park by my house.”  Could it be as simple as laziness or blaming the high cost of fuel?  Should there be a limit to the number of challenge caches in a state with the same challenge?

To those people who have put out some great challenges causing cachers to go out of their way to visit old caches, state parks, every county, or even keep a streak going, I applaud your effort, and hope that you keep it up.  Those who have come up with simple yet, clever challenges that push you to do things like cache with other people or go to events in other states, what a great way to push people out of their comfort zone and make the Geocaching Community better.  But that one where you have to find caches in which the third letter in the cache name spells the scientific name for your favorite tree… not so much- that’s just plain silly (although not as silly as some & less than 140 characters to describe).

So why does it seem like there are so many challenges around the state?  If you have a answer help a monkey out.

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