Is Geocaching for Me?
A Traditional Cache
What is Geocaching?
Geocaching is a technology based, outdoor "treasure hunt". In a nutshell, geocachers use high-tech GPS (Global Positioning Satellite) technology to find containers (or caches) that have been hidden by other geocachers.
As the joke goes, "I use multi-billion dollar satellite technology to find Tupperware containers in the woods."
The geocache containers range in size from "nano", which are tiny, to very large containers. Every hidden container must contain a log book that a successful finder signs. If the container is large enough, the cache may include goodies, known as swag. In the earlier days of geocaching, swag often consisted of valuable items such as cell phones. Today's geocaches are more likely to contain small trinkets that interest children. For adult geocachers, the excitement is in the find, not in the possibility of acquiring goodies.
Those wishing to take swag items from a cache are expected to replace it with other items of similar value and then re-hide the cache where they found it.
The tiniest caches have room for nothing but a small log book.
Once a geocacher finds a cache, he or she signs the log book, then registers the cache as "found" on the geocaching.com web site. After that, its on to the next find.
Once the geocaching bug bites you, you are likely to want to hide your own geocaches and become a cache owner as well as a cache finder.
Photos are my own work, unless otherwise indicated.
Signed Log Book
Why is Geocaching Fun?
Truth be told, lots of folks don't "get" geocaching. It's clearly not for everyone. But for the right person, it can turn into passion.
Which one are you?
For starters, if you are saying, "What's the point if there aren't any great prizes?", then my guess is that this is not going to be your next great interest. For us, its all about the finding and not the getting, remember?
But -- if you can answer yes to most or all of these statements, then I encourage you to get yourself a Global Positioning System device and start hunting!
- I enjoy solving puzzles
- I like using technology
- I enjoy nature and the outdoors
- I like activities that can be done solo or with other people
- I enjoy discovering new locations that I didn't know existed
- I like walking or hiking or cycling or maybe even kayaking
- I am patient and enjoy overcoming a challenge
- I can appreciate a hobby that can cost as little or as much as I want to spend
I would bet the farm that all dedicated geocachers would say yes to most or all of the above. I could be wrong, but I doubt it!
Geocaching Supplies to Get Started
Hand -held GPS devices receive data from billion-dollar satellites floating high in the heavens. The good news is that you do not need to buy a billion dollar satellite. You simply need the hand held device.
These devices receive positioning information from the satellites and display it to you as longitudinal and latitudinal coordinates. You "follow" these co-ordinates until you are at or near the cache location, or Ground Zero as we call it. Then you start to hunt.
You will need either a hand-held GPSr (receiver), or a Smart Phone with a geocaching APP. The geocaching APP costs about ten dollars.
In an ideal world, you would have both a Smart Phone APP and a GPSr because each comes with its own set of strengths and weaknesses.
If you already have a Smart Phone, it would make sense to start out with the APP and later, work up to owning a GPSr.
Note: In some locations, Global Positioning Satellite Receivers (GPSr) are known as satnams (short for satellite navigators).
- Geocaching - The Official Global GPS Cache Hunt Site
Geocaching is a treasure hunting game where you use a GPS to hide and seek containers with other participants in the activity. Geocaching.com is the listing service for geocaches around the world.
- The Geocaching Blog
Latitude 47 - The Official Blog of Geocaching.com
An Event Cache
Other Geocaching Supplies
What you need depends upon how seriously you want to pursue this hobby. Some people plan travel vacations around geocaching and others simply go poking around their own community.
At the least, you will need the following small ticket items:
- A water bottle (for drinking, of course)
- A flashlight (because some caches are hidden in dark places)
- A pencil or pen for signing the log book (in case the cache doesn't contain one)
- Tweezers for pulling logbooks out of tiny tube containers
- Some sort of map, compass or phone if you are prone to getting lost on park trails.
- A package of moist towelettes is nice for hand cleaning after you have been reaching down inside tree stumps and digging around under fallen logs.
10 Reasons Why Geocaching is a Good Thing
When done correctly, geocaching is a good and positive activity on so many levels. It's good for people of all ages and abilities, good for families and relationships and good for the planet.
How Can This Be True?
- Geocaching is exercise. The quality of the exercise depends upon the degree of physical effort that you put into the activity. However, even if you don't break a sweat, its still more exercise than watching television.
- Geocaching is suitable for people of almost all ages and abilities. Many caches are wheelchair accessible.
- It's a good activity for kids and parents. Kids love to geocache, especially when they get to crawl around and have fun in parks and nature trails.
- This activity gets you out in the fresh air and encourages you to enjoy nature. A tiny number of geocaches are hidden indoors, but they are few and far between.
- With this hobby, you will explore areas that you have never seen before, and learn much about your own community and other locations as well.
- Earthcaches are special caches that require you to visit a significant location where you research and submit information about the spot, rather than finding a hidden cache. Hence, you learn new things and keep your brain active.
- CITO events are special activities in which people get together and carry trash out of a location while searching for a cache. CITO stands for Cache In, Trash Out. Many geocachers practice CITO as part of their searching routine. The environment benefits.
- Event caches are occasions in which geocachers meet at a specific time and place to socialize or to conduct a specified activity. Hence, there is a social aspect and a sense of community.
- Many caches today require the finder to first solve a puzzle or research clues in order to obtain the cache coordinates. This requires new learning, adds to the interest for many, and helps keep the brain active.
- Geocachers can combine their enthusiasm with other activities, such as cycling, camping, hiking, boating and travel. Geocaches are found in many countries of the world, and there is even one on the International Space Station.
Hiding a Geocache Video
Poll: What's Your Pleasure?
So What's Your Favorite Outdoor Activity?
© 2014 June Campbell