Church Micros at 15–an interview with sadexploration
Recently, the Church Micro series in the United Kingdom celebrated its 15th anniversary! In celebration, we sat down with the creator of the series, sadexpoloration, to learn about the history of this special project.
Geocaching HQ: Tell us your geocaching origin story! How and when did you hear about geocaching?
For me, it was my then next-door neighbour who mentioned geocaching and explained that it was a type of treasure hunt which really appealed to me, as I had taken part in and organised a few of those in the past. However, I was to find out this was something quite a bit different.
I am now retired from work but spent my career as a mobile motor engineer. Before geocaching, one of my biggest hobbies was windsurfing, and I qualified as an instructor, which I did for a number of years in my spare time.
HQ: Can you share the story behind your username?
My very first find was with my next-door neighbour Dave, who told me we needed a username to log our finds online. We came up with a caching name, “sadexploration,” which was Steve And Dave exploration.
It very soon became clear I was doing all the caching, so I kept the name sadexploration for myself, and Dave opened a new account of his own. It’s a bit of a long username and most people know me as “sadex,” since that’s what I sign in logbooks.
HQ: For those who do not know, what is the Church Micro series? When did it begin?
The Church Micro series began on November 7, 2007, when I placed the very first one. Although not a religious person, I really admire the architecture of many church buildings. Since geocaching is about taking cachers to a place of interest, it seemed an ideal subject to turn into a series.
My plan was to place caches at churches, numbering each of them as I went, with the very first being “Church Micro 1…Earlswood” (GC17878). Although called church “micros,” the cache container can be any size (the bigger, the better), and the cache type can be whatever the cache owner chooses. So Church Micros (CMs) come in everything from a Traditional Cache to an Adventure Lab bonus cache.
In the summer of 2008, a fellow cacher and friend (BaSHful) started to develop some statistics from bookmarks set up by another friend and cacher (Andy33), and this took the series to a whole new level with cachers actively seeking out CM caches and prepared to travel a long way to find them.
HQ: Are you the sole owner of Church Micro caches?
I am not the sole owner at all. Once I had placed around fifty CM caches, I amended the cache pages to invite fellow cachers to place their own, and I would keep a list and give them a number. It didn’t take long before a few emails appeared from cachers not too far away; these cachers placed their own in different areas. The number started to fly up and helped the series spread throughout the country.
HQ: Can you describe the Church Micro community? How many caches form the series?
The CM community is just like any normal cachers if there is such a thing, but all seem to go that extra bit to find a CM, making the series so popular. The series just celebrated its 15th anniversary, and each year many different cachers host their own Church Micro events, which are held all over the country.
In the last couple of years, Church CITOs have also appeared thanks to an idea from another friend and cacher (martletsman). These also have their own unique number.
As of November 2022, the stats page shows almost 16,000 CMsplaced by 2,677 different cachers. Over 203,000 cachers have found at least one CM cache and the total number of unique finds on CM caches is an astonishing 2.3 million!
HQ: Outside of the Church Micro series, do you own other caches?
Aside from CM caches, I have around 100 hides of all types dating back to 2004. I really like placing field puzzles, which are generally quite easy to solve but make the cache more interesting. Also, I really enjoy finding a cache where the owner has perhaps created a different type of container or hide from the norm.
HQ: Now 15 years after the first Church Micro, what are your reflections on the series?
I am frequently asked, “Did you ever expect the series to grow to this size?”
Of course not, but I chose a popular subject, and the feedback is always that cachers really enjoy finding them. So I’m still happy to continue, and a special thanks to all those friends who have helped me with the series, especially the techy bits.
HQ: Do you have any advice for other cache hiders?
Make sure your coordinates are accurate and use a suitable watertight container. Making the cache a little different will always attract Favourite points and also more cachers. Find somewhere nice to hide it!
Have you found a cache in the Church Micro series? Share your story with us in the comments!