There are two types of people on the planet who know who muggles are, there are Harry Potter fans and there are a subset of geocachers.
Muggles are people that are unaware of geocaching. Cachers that are looking for hidden locations avoid muggles to avoid giving away what they’re doing because they don’t want caches to be found and removed or damaged by those who don’t know why they’re present.
Why Are Muggles Called Muggles?
The name Muggles derives from the Harry Potter series of books written by JK Rowling.
People unaware of geocaching are called Muggles by participants because they don’t understand what players are looking for or why. Muggles who interfere with the caches spoil finds for future Cachers. Spoiled caches are said to be Muggled.
The term chosen to describe the uninformed among Geocachers creates a sense of belonging between those in the know. You can think of it as an ‘us and them’ differentiation.
While there is no malice intended in the term Muggle, it is common that Geocachers enjoy the fact that Muggles have no idea what is happening right under their noses.
Why Should You Not Let Muggles See You Geocaching?
We all know what curiosity does to cats. If Muggles see hidden caches they will undoubtedly be intrigued.
Do not let Muggles see you hunt for caches because of the risk that they will not understand the importance of them remaining intact for future hunters. They may remove items, or move them so that they are not positioned correctly according to clues.
Remember that Muggles rarely deliberate spoil caches. They may remove items without replacing them or move a cache. In some cases caches have been removed entirely by people unconnected to Geocaching.
All of this behavior is due to ignorance of the consequence of their actions, rather than deliberately ruining the game for players.
This is the sole reason why you should hunt for caches away from Muggles!
What Does Using Stealth Mean?
Taking reasonable care to avoid detection is called stealth in geocaching circles. The aim is to avoid giving away the location of a cache to those who aren’t participating in the sport.
Is The Aversion To Muggles All About Keeping Caches Hidden?
There’s actually another good reason to avoid being spotted hunting for the location of a cache, especially in residential areas.
If you spend a long time in one place, to a Muggle you might be acting suspiciously. People get defensive about their local area, and may confront you or report you to law enforcement. There’s also the chance that people might be better than you at stealth behavior and observe you finding the cache.
All of these risks add up to a greater chance that the cache will be disturbed before the next player discovers its location.
We also need to remember to respect the environment around the cache, and the lifestyles of those in the immediate area too.
Are Muggles A Big Problem?
It’s important to remember that Geocaching exists within the normal world by its very nature.
Muggles can damage or remove caches so are a problem for Geocachers who might have spent a lot of time and money traveling to the intended location of a cache. It the target has been moved, damaged or removed, it can be frustrating, or end up being a huge waste of time for the player.
If I’m Approached By A Muggle What Should I Do?
Inevitably, from time to time, players will be spotted and approached by a member of the public. How to react is up to you, and it’s wise to use common sense.
If you find yourself being challenged aggressively about what you’re doing, it’s likely that your presence and behavior is causing concern. It’s probably always a good idea to come clean in these circumstances and explain what Geocaching is about. Remember to convey the importance of caches staying hidden. It’s usually possible to defuse the situation quickly and leave the Muggle not being a Muggle at all, they’re possibly intrigued enough to be the newest Cacher!
For curious Muggles, it’s a different story. If you think they’d enjoy the sport, there’s no reason not to share the fun. On the other hand, if you get the feeling that the moment you’re gone they’ll throw the cache into the nearest field or river, maybe be a lot more vague, or even make something up!
Dealing with Muggles is a part of the fun of the hunt, and it’s something you’ll get better with over time. Yes, some people will think we’re really odd, but most people just find the whole sport quite curious.
Do Many Caches Get Disturbed By Muggles?
The world is a big place and there are a lot of caches registered, extensively covering much of the planet’s land surface.
It‘s unfortunate but true that a lot of caches get found and removed or otherwise interfered with by Muggles. It’s rarely something that’s done to deliberately spoil the fun, but it is one of the few downsides to the sport. Fortunately, the global register of cache locations can be updated when missing caches are identified.
Muggles are generally affectionately named as a bit of an in joke among Cachers. They are strangers, friends, colleagues, relatives and sometimes even spouses, parents and children of Geocachers.
While they’re talked about negatively a lot in online forums, that’s almost always a side effect of one bad experience, and we’re far more likely to moan about a bad experience than praise a really good day.
Remember that Muggles are fundamentally just people like you and I, while at the same time having a quiet chuckle to yourself that they’ve never got a clue what you’re up to.