Organizing a CITO Event

Organizing a CITO Event

There’s no better way to reinvigorate your local cachers than putting together a CITO event in the spring. The season is perfect-you’ve got a good shot at some great weather?and cachers are ready to get going again after a long winter’s hibernation.

Cache In Trash OutSaturday April 14th has been recognized as International Cache In Trash Out Day. It’s a day when cachers all around the world are encouraged to help clean up parks and other cache-friendly areas. In 2003, geocachers around the world organized 67 cleanup events in 5 countries and 28 States. The results were seen not only in the many logs and photos posted, but in the reactions from park officials and private individuals as they saw the landscapes transformed by conscientious cachers. One day of effort went a long way to solidify relationships between land managers and cachers and it also went a long way towards building teamwork among even the most competitive among us.

Here are a few tips as you start looking for opportunities in your area.

Start Planning Early

“To fail to plan is to plan to fail.” A CITO event probably won’t take the time or coordination of a big event cache, but there are still several factors that need to come together early for it to be a success.

  1. Find a good location. One of the best ways to do this is to ask other cachers. Contact your local geocaching group or send an email out to a few area cachers and ask them what spots they have seen that require the most care.
  2. What time are you starting? What time are you finishing? People like structure. Be prepared to tell them exactly how long you’re going to ask them to wear those orange vests and pick up trash. Ultimately they want to know what time they can eat and when they can leave to go get more caches.
  3. Line up the equipment. Many parks departments will be overjoyed when they find out you want to organize a clean up day. Ask them for trash bags, trash poking sticks, safety vests and maybe even a dumpster or two depending on the size of the job. Alternatively, start asking for donations of equipment from local hardware and department stores. Of course, if you want your CITO crew to look their best, pick up some official CITO safety vests and other CITO clothing from the store. Having a well-stocked first aid kit on hand is a must.
  4. Don’t forget to clean up. A CITO event practically requires a wash station. Get plenty of clean water to wash up with, soap, hand sanitizer, rubber gloves and towels.

Make Contact With Local Authorities

If you’re planning on cleaning up a state or federally managed area, there is a good chance that your group will have to sign wavers releasing the management of responsibility for injuries that occur during the clean up. Contact them early and let them know what you’ll be doing.

Depending on the area you’re cleaning up, you might want to contact the local police about what you are doing. There might be hazards in the area (hidden drug labs and paraphernalia) that they need to warn you about. At the very least, seeing a group of people involved in something as worthwhile as a clean up project is a great way to introduce them to the local geocachers.

Make Contact With the Local News

Newspapers and TV stations love to do stories about people getting together to pick up trash. Plus, the exposure is great for geocaching itself. Contact the local news stations and other news outlets a few weeks in advance to line up some photo opportunities and interview time for you and your crew.

Throw In a Few Extras For Hardworking Cachers

I have no doubt that simply offering a CITO event will bring cachers out, but it never hurts to offer them a little something extra for their efforts. Solicit some donations from local merchants?surplus stores, outfitters, department and hardware stores. Ask local cachers to donate items to be given away. Ask the park district for tote bags, hats, water bottles and other items they might have to give away.

Hide a few temporary caches around the CITO area. It might even be good to disguise these as garbage and see who picks them up.

Don’t forget refreshments! At one CITO event I attended the parks department provided hotdogs for lunch. Your parks department might not be as generous, but it never hurts to ask. Alternatively, ask cachers to contribute to a post-CITO potluck. Also, remember bottled water for quick refreshment during the event.

Open It Up to Non-Cachers Too.

A CITO event is a great way to introduce muggles to cachers in an environment where?even if they don’t “get it”?they can still see that we care about the same parks where they play Frisbee and walk their dogs.

CITO KidsCITO events are also great for getting your kids involved with more than just swapping Happy Meal toys. Be sure to bring them along and give them special jobs to do (and special rewards). Your CITO day can be something they will feel good about for the rest of their lives.

There are plenty of groups out there that would be eager to participate in a park clean up. Contact the local boy scouts or girl scouts, check into local community service organizations and look for other outdoor enthusiasts groups (mountain bikers, hikers, etc)


CITO Group Shot

Never forget: CITO Day is an event, but CITO itself is a lifestyle. Your commitment to caching in and trashing out should not be limited to one day a year. On April 14th you have the opportunity to work together for something bigger than just yourself, but even picking up a few items as you move from cache to cache helps. As each one of us commits to cleaning up our playground every time we’re hunting for a cache we make an impact that will be seen all year long.