The build up to the launch of Challenge Caches ended this week as Geocaching.com modified the website on Thursday to include a new section called, Geocaching Challenges. These are the long-awaited cache types meant to replace Virtual Caches. There is no container to find or log to sign. A cacher simply creates a Challenge Cache by "daring" other cachers to either take a picture of themselves with something, or perform a specific task. More information is available on the FAQ page.
Apparently the reception has been less than stellar, which prompted this blog post from Bryan Roth, Groundspeak co-founder, asking people to, "give Challenges a chance". It seems that not only have people not swarmed to Challenge Caches, but significant numbers of long-time cachers are complaining about them as they don't seem to represent the spirit of geocaching. This is consistent with a lot of comments I saw on Twitter, summed up by a tweet from one cacher that said, "if there's no box to find and I don't need a GPSr, it's not a geocache."
I checked the Challenges near me, and most of them have already received more poor ratings than positive ones. Too many poor ratings, and the Challenges are automatically removed by Groundspeak.
We'll have to wait and see if Challenge Caches eventually take off, or die a quick death. I can see how this might appeal to the new, smartphone-wielding geocaching crowd, which makes this a wise business move on Groundspeak's part as a means to attract new cachers. But me personally, I fall in to the old-timey cacher category who likes using his non-wireless Garmin GPSmap 60CSx device out in the woods to locate Tupperware and ammo cans.
Cache (and Challenge) On!