If, like me, you’ve just returned from a hugely enjoyable but hectic time at a Mega Event, you’ll probably also share with me the sense of loss that comes with returning to ‘normal life’ and the feeling that something is missing. In my case it was this year’s UK Mega event at Bicton College in Devon. Many others there had come straight from another regular Mega, the hugely popular ‘Piratemania’, and had been on the road and under canvas for ten days or more by the time they set sail for home. However, there’s always plenty to do after a busy Mega event that can keep you in touch with the warm feelings that you’re missing. Here’s my top things to do in the aftermath of a Mega.
1. Get Tidy!
I hate to say it, but there are practicalities to be dealt with – endless laundry, putting away the camping gear and drying the tent. There’s also the personal attention that you’ve let go – time to shave off the holiday beard (men), get rid of that chipped nail polish and ‘tame the mane’. These are the things that we put up with in order to enjoy that Mega camping experience. Sorting it all out means that you’ll be ready when the next one comes along. As my Nanna used to say when I was sad that it was time to leave, ‘If you don’t go, you can’t come back’!
If like me you mainly cache with a GPSr, you may now have several, if not hundreds of logs to write and submit, maybe using your field notes or ‘drafts’ as they’re now called. This can take some time, especially if you’ve been particularly active while away. You now have the time to compose a truly memorable log for that special cache you found and don’t be too late logging those lab caches! On the other hand, you might be thinking, ‘which film pot was that one…?’
My phone is full of photos right now, not just of crowd scenes, selfies with Signal or two smiley people passing a golden ammo can. Mostly I have a huge gallery of images of car bumpers, T-shirts, dog’s collars, flags, laminated camping pitch signs, tattoos and earrings. On top of this there are also several dozen pictures of Travel Bug tags from the TBs that had been deposited at the event in the hope that they might be taken further towards their mission. You’ve probably done this in order to ‘discover’ them online, which could take forever were it not for a couple of helpful sites which allow you to perform this task in bulk. Project-GC has a ‘discover trackables’ option that allows you to copy all the codes into one box and post a generic log on them all; there’s also logthemall which allows you to the same thing. Remember to tell the owner where you saw it and don’t share the codes online without their permission. Oh, and be prepared for your inbox to be full of logs from people discovering your car, tent, dog etc!
One of the things I always try to do when I’m logging is to attach any interesting photos to my logs. As a CO myself, I always like to see who’s visited my caches, different views through the seasons as well as amusing selfies. I particularly enjoy seeing photos posted when someone is logging one of my trackables. Many of the caches that I did last week were virtuals and earthcaches which have required me to post a photo of myself at GZ. However, the CO probably doesn’t want to see loads of photos of the cache itself and you have to be careful not to post spoiler photos that give away the cache’s location or the information needed to log it. Most of all, however, I like to share my photos online so that others can share in my memories. Look out for relevant groups, hashtags or online pinboards where people can find them more easily.
5. Remember your Friends!
I never fail to come back from a Mega without having made at least one new caching friend. Sometimes it might be someone who’s caching name I’ve seen on logs for ages, without knowing who they were; maybe it’s someone you’ve chatted to on Facebook Groups or during a Twitter event, without knowing their caching name. Several times last week I had people bounding up to me yelling, ‘alright Tenty’ yet I had no idea who they were. Upon their introduction I realised we’d been chatting for years without knowing our caching identity. All very ‘secret squirrel’ but I think of it as being part of the fun. As photos get tagged an stories shared, I often find that have a whole new cohort to add to my caching crew- and my PAF list!
6. Check your Bank!
I came with a tight budget this year and vowed not to buy loads of coins, hoodies and fake ivy. However, after spending a quarter of it at the real ale bar on my first night I had to reign myself in once more! There are often so many excellent traders at Mega events, many of them selling items at a discount that it can be really hard not to be seduced by the Lovely Shiny Things. Either way, you might well discover that you’ve only left enough in your bank to eat Ryveta and celery for the rest of the month, and no one wants that!
Do you have trackable envy? Did you see an awesome set of twinkly lights around someone’s caravan, an amazing T shirt with the wittiest of caching slogans, or a truly stunning trackable flag which caught your eye from across the camp site? Maybe it’s time you joined in the fun and got one for yourself ready for next year. The sight of hundreds of flags fluttering across the campsite in Mega week can be truly awesome. There are plenty of online vendors- or maybe you can get creative and make your own?
8. Book for Next Year!
Not long after a Mega event is over, the mighty media machine for next year’s event creaks into action. Make sure you don’t miss out on your camping pitch by booking early – maybe there’s even an ‘early bird’ discount if you book soon; perhaps you need to ensure you have an electric supply before those pitches are all sold out. You can keep the excitement going by making sure your next Mega is in the calendar and you can start saving your ‘caching couchers’ as the countdown ticks by.
Some people camp for relaxation and to be at one with nature. However, when I’m at a Mega I like to experience as much as I can – the best local caches, all the ‘side events’ and talks, the fun games and activities and, of course, the local food and drink that’s on offer. This year I was still caching at 1.30am on my last night before heading home! All of this eventually takes its toll and I could sleep for England right now. A couple of early nights, a period of abstinence and I should be ready for my next big caching trip at the weekend!
Maybe you do Mega events differently to me; maybe you’re just a day visitor. Perhaps you’re still new to caching and what you saw at the Mega, quite frankly, terrified you. Maybe you’re still out there on the road, heading straight to the next Mega! Whatever your style, there’s always plenty to do, see and experience at a Mega – and plenty to do afterwards too!
About the Author:
Andy/Tentmantent has been caching for over ten years and loves every aspect of the game. He is based in Lincoln in the UK and has attended 8 Mega Events so far.