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Geocaching 101: a Treasure Hunt Adventure for the Whole Family

Do you enjoy being outside, hiking, camping, walking? Me neither. But I do love geocaching.

Learn about geocaching
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Geocaching, if you've never heard the term, is like a treasure hunt. It's a sport, a hobby, an adventure. Using geographical coordinates and a GPS system- or navigation system on your phone- you follow the GPS to find hidden caches- containers with a logbook to log your find.

I began looking into geocaching years ago. When I first became interested in the hobby before the days of fancy GPS systems, I found an activity called Letterboxing.  Letterboxing is similar to Geocaching in that you are looking for a "treasure." But in Letterboxing, one uses only a compass to follow the directions and find a box. And in Letterboxing, part of the thrill is a rubber stamp that you personalize and carry with you, stamping a log in any box find.

I always wanted to try Letterboxing and later Geocaching as GPS systems became more popular and I learned of this version of the sport. But when I had young kids, the task of beginning seemed difficult; and I never pursued it. And then, several years ago, our library had a geocaching event, and the kids and I went.

Some of us- including me- fell in love with the activity. Others of us have absolutely no interest in the hunt. Since the beginning of our geocahing adventures, we've found caches in local parks, hiked through the woods and gotten somewhat lost, and strolled into a hotel lobby looking for a cache. We've cached in lightning storms, looked for hours for a cache we've never found, and found caches we thought we'd never find.

Geocaching is a fun and fairly inexpensive activity for the whole family. Although you can get really into the hobby and spend money on fancy GPS systems, we've never really spent anything- except money for the gas to go hunting. It's also fairly easy to get started with the help of your phone and the internet.

Here are some tips for getting started geocaching.

Information about geocaching

Check out the Geocaching.Com website. 

There is all kinds of good information about where to find caches in your area. And if you have an account (which is free) you can check in and log your finds online to keep track of what caches you've found. (You can pay for a premium account which has some special features.)

When you log in, you have options to check out a map, look for local caches, log your caches, join in with a community, etc.

Geocaching.com site

Any time there is a geocaching event, it will be listed on the page with local caches.

Learn about geocaching at geocaching.com

We have quite a few caches in our area. There are many we've found, but there are some areas we haven't checked out yet.

Rock Hill area geocaches

Consider what you'll use for a GPS. 

A GPS can range in price from a $60 to $8,000 or more. You can also use different navigation apps on your cell phone. I use the Geocaching.com app which is free but won't allow you to do some things unless you have the premium version. I've looked at this one as an inexpensive started GPS.

GPS for geocaching

The more expensive the GPS, the more accuracy and the more special features that it may have. Cell phones are okay for beginners, but if you really get into this and head outdoors in the woods, cell service is interrupted.

These caches do not always look like you would expect. 

You may find anything from a standard box to tupperware containers to tubes; and even a tiny, magnetic container that was no bigger than your fingernail. Obviously the level of difficulty varies based on how the cache is hidden to what type of container is used. The Geocaching.com app and website will tell you the size of the cache as well as the difficulty of the terrain.

The caches contain at least a logbook and may contain "swag." Swag is any little toy, trinket, batteries, etc. that can be traded for other swag that the finder carries with him. We've found good stuff as well as trash in the caches we've found. Once we even found a used bandaid. No joke.

Swag in a geocache

The caches can be hidden in simple ways- such as in a pile of leaves or brush- or in very complex ways- such as up in a tree or under a lamp skirt in a parking lot. 

We've found caches hidden under a lamp skirt. We've found them buried in ivy. We've found some hanging in trees. Sometimes these have a hidden way that they need to be accessed. We've found a PVC pipe on the side of an arbor that had to be obtained by filling the pipe with water (from a convenient fountain), stopping up a hole in the pipe so it would fill, and then picking out the container when it floated up. We've even found one in a teeny, tiny magnet-sized container stuck to a sign in a parking lot.

Finding geocaches

Some of the caches are single finds, and some are a series with clues. 

Most of the caches we've found have been single finds, but we've followed a few clue caches. We have a series of clues in our downtown area that leads to a cache in the library. That one was fun to find, and Charles still likes going over and checking on the cache each time we're in the library.

Just a note. Make sure that you read the FULL description of the cache on Geocaching.com BEFORE you begin looking. Otherwise you may assume you're at a single cache instead of simply looking for a clue. And you may let your children climb into and wander around the fountain downtown before you read more closely and realize that this isn't a single cache but just a clue and that the cache IS NOT hidden in the fountain.

Not that I would do that personally, but...you know.

Geocache fun

There are many, many of these caches all over the world. 

I've seen a map a few years ago that showed that at the time, there were over 6,000 in our state alone and over 2,000,000 worldwide. This means that wherever you are, you can find places to geocache.

Those of use who love caching have thoroughly enjoyed looking for caches to find when we travel. We've found some interesting places through caching.



I love geocaching. Did I say that already? There's nothing like finding the illusive cache. It's the thrill of a treasure hunt. If you're looking for something fun and active for the family, try geocaching.


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1 comment:

  1. Hi there! I'm following over from the TOS Social Media Facebook group. I've been adding buttons from fellow members to my page and thought you'd like to know that I think your button code is broken. It won't copy and paste properly. It seems to have something to do with a "see more" attached to copying and pasting from your page.

    I'm excited to get to know you and the rest of the group!

    ReplyDelete

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