Geocaching - Outdoor Fun and Exercise for the Whole Family
Geocaching has been around for some time now. The premise of the hobby is to either hide, or find, small caches that are hidden somewhere in the world, and the GPS coordinates are uploaded to any number of websites, with the most popular being www.geocaching.com.
If you are someone who enjoys getting out for a walk, longer hike or even a “treasure hunt” then Geocaching is for you. You’ll need the use of a handheld GPS device (whether it be a true GPS or any number of the smart phones on the market with GPS services). You then decide what area you would like to begin your search for Geocache coordinates, and the web is a great resource to find these coordinates. Punch those coordinates into your GPS and off you go on your very own search for treasure.
So what do you need and what should you expect when you decide to go Geocaching? Good questions and glad you asked. First, as mentioned before, a handheld GPS or a smart phone with GPS capabilities. Decide what type of Geocache you’d like to search for (if it matters to you) as most of them have a theme of some sort (for example one might be baseball cards where you take a card with you to leave in the cache, and take one from there). You’ll most likely find yourself in a public park, or public location, so you might need good walking/hiking shoes. You’ll need a pencil or pen (to sign the log book we’ll talk about) and you’ll need your coordinates for your cache (or have it already in your GPS). Take along your pet for a walk, family or friends (they will enjoy it too most likely, or at least get some good exercise). Don’t forget to bring a flashlight, know what to expect weather-wise (and have appropriate gear) and a small first aid kit (you may be in the woods, bites, scrapes, twisted ankles, anything could happen if you’re not paying attention or are ill-prepared to be in the woods.)
What to expect will be a cache made of many things (an old military ammo can, a Tupperware box or something similar that is weather proof) and it will be hidden or well camouflaged. Once you find it, you will find items inside that should correspond to whatever theme the person who placed it chose to have. You should also find a small notebook or piece of paper. The intent of this is for those who find it to make a log entry of name (or something like a team nickname like Hiker123 or something) and what date/time you found it, and what you took or left in the cache. Having your own pen or pencil in this instance can be handy if the original one has gone missing. Sometimes these things can be hard to find and take more than one visit to find it. Also remember that most often these Geocaches are hidden in public. When you find one, care and discretion should be used when you first “get it out” of its hiding place and when you return it to its place. Make sure others aren’t watching, as they may not understand what it is, and if it gets taken by someone as a prank or they think it has value, others will not be able to find it (because it is gone). This happens quite often in Geocaching, so it is something to be conscious about while you're out enjoying your day. One last note here, plan ahead some. Sometimes there are many Geocaches in an area (especially state and county parks) so get the coordinates of several caches in an area and have some fun with it for a morning, afternoon, evening or whole day.
If you find you want to place a Geocache of your own, some thought needs to go into the whole process. First, do you want your cache to have a theme? Maybe you like small cars, or you want people with the last name Smith only to find it, firefighters only, or any possible theme you like. Then once you settle on that aspect, determine how big of a container you will have (and you’ll need to camo It appropriately to the surroundings in which you hide it). You don’t have to hide it in the woods (which is the most common such as along nature hikes in public parks), you can hide it under the loose stone of your porch stoop and have the theme be “milk and cookies” (I once found a cache like this. The theme was once you found the place you were looking for, you rang the doorbell and asked for milk and cookies. You were greeted by a fellow Geocacher who would supply you with the refreshments and talk about Geocaching for a few minutes).
Once you have your location picked out, get the coordinates from your GPS of the exact location and upload them to the Geocaching web sites and enjoy the comments and log files you receive (so make sure to include a small notepad and pen). Also remember to check on your Geocache periodically to make sure it’s still there, doesn’t need refreshing and keep it updated for all to enjoy.
Enjoy your Geocaching experience and for more information to get started visit these sites: