Geocaching. Have you heard of this? I had heard the term before and knew it had something to do with navigation, but I never understood fully what it was, until just recently. The official geocaching website describes the adventure as a real-world, outdoor treasure hunting game using GPS-enabled devices. Participants navigate to a specific set of GPS coordinates and then attempt to find the geocache (container) hidden at that location. Once you find it, you sign the log book that you were there and put it back safely where you found it.
Did you know that there are over 2 MILLION geocaches worldwide? Isn’t that amazing? How has all of this been going on without me knowing a thing about it?! And get this, I searched my zip code on the website and it came up with over 11,000 locations of where geocaches are hidden in my area! This is big. This is really big. Do you have any idea how many points I’m going to score with my almost 5-year-old when he finds out about this? This is the biggest treasure hunt in the world, right in your own backyard!
What is a geocache and what does it look like?
A geocache is some sort of container that can be opened. It can vary from a really small canister to something as large as a pail.
Below is a sizing chart and some examples of what a geocache can look like:
Image Source: Geocaching.com
What does a geocache contain?
At the very least, a cache contains a logbook that you need to sign, to record that you were there and located the cache. Larger caches can contain various items in addition to the logbook. The rule, however, is if you take something out of the cache, you need to replace it with something of equal or greater value. So, there’s even opportunity to add to the treasure. Items that are often added to the cache are insect repellent wipes, little plastic animals and really anything fun and unique you might be able to find at a dollar store. If you’re lucky, you may even find a trackable.
What’s a trackable you ask? Geocaching.com explains a trackable as a sort of physical geocaching “game piece.” You will often find them in geocaches or see them at geocaching gatherings. Each Trackable is etched with a unique code that can be used to log its movements on Geocaching.com as it travels in the real world. Some of these items have traveled hundreds of thousands of miles thanks to geocachers who move them from cache to cache!
How do I get started?
You mean you’re still reading this? I thought for sure you would be off on your first adventure already. I’m glad you’re not because I still have some important information to share. To navigate through the Geocaching.com site you’re going to have to learn the meaning of some geocaching acronyms.
The first thing you’re going to want to do is register for free with the site and review this Geocaching 101 Guide. If you prefer video, watch this. Then plug in your zip code to get a list of all the hidden caches in your area. To make your first hunt more streamlined, there’s also a Geocaching App for the iPhone. It costs $9.99 but I’m seriously thinking about investing in it for our first family outing. If it doesn’t go so well, I may need to invest in this book. Let’s hope not.
Stay tuned for a post on our first outing. Heck, we may like it so much we decide to hide our own cache. I hope this has inspired you to start your own adventure with your family. I’d love to hear about it. Let’s grab our GPS, some water bottles and a couple plastic animals and go caching!