Geocaching: My Favorite Adventure
Geocaching is a huge outdoor scavenger hunt!
Geocaching is also a great game for kids to play outside. It encourages them to go outdoors and explore the world around them, and find new places. Without a doubt, my favorite adventure is the next one I will be going on. Memories of adventures are great, but the time leading up to any adventure, and the adventure itself, is my favorite time. With geocaching, there is an endless number of adventures you can enjoy. There is even a geocache in space (see below)!
Geocaches are everywhere, from urban cities, suburban towns, and rural areas. You can can make your own geocache and upload it for others to find.
Adventure in the palm of your hand!
Geocaching is a great way to help create your next adventure.
Geocaching is generally an outdoor activity where you can find hidden treasure. In my hand, I have my smart phone. On that smart phone is a map. Each little bubble there represents a treasure to be discovered, and an adventure to be had. There are 6 on the screen, and that is just 1 park within walking distance of my house.
Generally, another geocacher will hide a water-proof box of some kind(ammo boxes are popular) or even a small film container. It could even be an alligator clip with a zip loc bag attached. He or she will then upload the GPS coordinates to a site that hosts geocache locations.
Generally, do not go on private property. Avoid alarming others. Stay safe, and try to leave the area the same or better(cleaner) than it was before you arrived. Don't disturb natural habitat.
You can use any GPS enabled device(I use my android phone) to travel to those coordinates. Make sure the sky is somewhat clear so you can get a good signal. Once at the coordinates, you need to look around and try to locate the cache. It could be hidden in a hollowed out tree. There are tricky caches that look like a discarded soda can, or even a rock! Those can be very hard to find.
I use C:Geo, available at Google Play, to find caches. C:Geo is free, but you can upgrade your subscription if you want. You will need to open an account at geocaching.com which is also free, but upgradable to premium.
Cache in, Trash Out
Sometimes the community may view the caches left about as trash or litter. To fight this perception, it is best to practice CITO, or "cache in, trash out."
Relatively simple protocol, leave no trash/litter of your own, and pick up trash or litter you find during your search.
In this way, we can put trash where is belongs, and make the environment a little bit nicer for everyone to enjoy. It really is worth the extra time tidying things up so other people can enjoy their adventures without having to dig through garbage.
Muggles, Muggles, everywhere...
Muggle, while generally referring to the Harry Potter universe, is used in Geocaching to explain anyone nearby who does not understand or know about geocaching. It is considered best practice not to attempt to attract attention to yourself, however if you are approached, be nice and explain what is going on.
This is actually how I came to learn about geocaching.
I was sitting in my ambulance in a parking lot beneath some trees with my partner. Looking out the front window, we observed a man go up to a fence and begin snooping around. He looked over the top of the fence, on the ground, and turned over a few things. Then he left.
What was he doing?
About 15 minutes later, ANOTHER man came and began looking around. Curious, we exited our ambulance and approached him. We explained what happened and asked him what was going on. Smiling to himself, he asked "Have you ever heard of Geocaching?"
We hadn't. He knelt down and put his hand on a PVC shut off valve connected to piping in the ground. He ripped the valve right from the ground!
As it turns out, the whole thing was a geocache. To open the cache, you turn the valve, and a little clear plastic container rolled out(like the kind you would get from a vending machine).
Inside was a log to sign, to show you had been there.
Be careful about drawing attention to yourself and the cache. Geocachers have been approached by police, and more than 1 ammo can has been detonated by the bomb squad.
Travel bugs, geo coins and more
If this is your first time out, make sure you bring some sort of trinket to put in the cache. Generally, they are swapped on a 1 to 1 basis.
If you are feeling charitable, you can leave it there for someone else to take. It is considered "best practice" to replace whatever you took with something of equal or greater value.
Travel bugs look like dog tags with a bug on it. If you are going to take these, you are expected to go to the Groundspeak website and report. If you aren't going to do this, leave the travel bug for someone else.
Some geocoins are also individually numbered and tracked. Make sure you follow up and report about where it was.
While some loot is okay to keep, travel bugs should be hidden at a different cache in the future, unless told you could keep it by person who released the bug. Travel bugs can have very interesting histories and have gone very long distances.
Leave the cache as you found it.
Since GPS coordinates can be VERY exacting, make sure you put the geocache right where you found it. The "owner" of the cache will need to be able to find it in the future, to replace a filled log, or perhaps even put more goodies in there.
Level of Difficulty
There are lots of different caches out there to be found. Some are extremely hard, and require specialized equipment like climbing gear, or even SCUBA gear.
There is even a Geocache on the International Space Station, on the Russian side.
Other caches are easy to find and can be found on your lunch break, no gear needed. These are the best to start with, until you get the hang of geocaching. Once you have found a cache or two, bring the whole family!
National, state, and local parks usually have multiple caches in them to be found. Taking your family out for a picnic and a day of adventure and treasure hunting is a great way to spend the day.
If you like geocaching, you might also like Playing Ingress.
They are both GPS games, and compliment each other when played concurrently.