You Can Learn to Geocache in Ten Minutes
Geocaching is a fun, family-friendly activity that you can play in your neighborhood even during the COVID-19 Crisis
The COVID-19 crisis has the world forced to stay home or close to home. Geocaching just might be the solution to your family’s cabin fever and you can learn to geocache in less than ten minutes.
Before you read any further, I need to let you in on a little secret… There are geocaches hidden within walking and biking distance from your home. Yes, it’s true! With over 3 million active geocaches hidden worldwide, you can find caches hidden everywhere. Geocaching is the perfect way for you and your family to get out of the house, to keep physically and mentally active, while having a lot of fun along the way. (Please adhere to your local guidelines during the COVID-19 pandemic).
So what exactly is Geocaching? For those unfamiliar with the game it is described at geocaching.com as:
“a real-world, outdoor adventure that is happening all the time, all around the world”.
The players, called “Geocachers” use their cellphones (or GPS recievers) to search for caches which are generally hidden in local public parks or woodlands. These hidden caches range in size from: Nano (about the size of an eraser on a pencil) up to extra-large (think 5 gallon bucket or larger container). Old pill bottles and tupperware containers are popular geocaches.
For most, the thrill is the adventure of exploring familiar places in a new way or discovering historic places, landmarks, and parks you may not have visited before. The quest aspect can be enticing for children who enjoy scavenger or treasure hunts. Others enjoy the daily motivation to keep a streak going and being part of a community with awareness of items hidden in plain sight from most of the world.
This blog post will walk you through the basic steps from creating your Geocaching account through making your first find. You only need two things to begin Geocaching, a mobile phone and a pen. So grab your smart phone and let’s get started!
Step 1 – Set up your account
To begin let’s take one minute (Click Here) to watch this introductory video from Geocaching Headquarters. This video should get you excited and ready to get started!
Once you have downloaded the Geocaching App onto your phone, you will need to make two decisions when setting up your account.
First, you must create your user name. This is the name that you will be known by in the geocaching community. Be creative, be silly, use a nickname, but it is probably best not to use your real name!
Next, you will need to decide whether to play with a free account or to upgrade to premium account. I recommend purchasing a three month Premium Account for $9.99 or a full year for $30. A Premium account will give you access to literally millions of geocaches increasingly the likelihood that there will be a cache within walking distance from your house. This will also improve your chances of successfully finding treasure on your first adventure. As you become more experienced with the game, the Premium account will also offer many useful options and tools.
Step 2 – Explore the Game App
Once you have your account set up, you can now begin to familiarize yourself with the game.
Open the app and you will see a map of your immediate area and neighborhood. Your location is indicated by the blue dot and you should also see some green circles with a cache icon in them. All of these green icons are Geocaches!
Tap one of the green circles to select a geocache. This will open a brief description box at the bottom of your screen and the name of the cache will scroll across your screen. This box will also include information on: distance, difficulty level, and size of the cache. Tap on this box to learn more about this geocache.
Step 3 – Take a Closer Look
Before you set off towards ground zero, it is helpful to conduct some quick research about the cache to help increase your chances of finding this treasure. At the top of the screen you will see three bar graphs indicating:
Difficulty Rating which ranges from 1.0 easiest to 5.0 hard (very hard)
Terrain rating which ranges from 1.0 flat ground to 5.0 extreme conditions.
Size ranging from Small cache (could be as small as a thimble) to Xtra Large (5 gallon bucket)
Descriptions are submitted by the cache creator and range from simple to very detailed. The description might provide clues to the location of the geocache but it might also provide a history lesson of the cache location.
Activity field is very important to see when the cache was last found. If the activity states DNF (did not find) it is most likely not at Ground Zero. A beginner may want to avoid a cache with a DNF listed.
Hint is exactly that. Try finding the cache without looking at the hint but if you get stuck, the hint might help.
Step 4 – Navigating to your first Cache.
Tap the green Navigate button and you are ready to begin your treasure hunting adventure! You will notice that the map shows the distance “as the crow flies” so you will need to navigate the streets or sidewalks to get you to the location of the geocache. Your mission is to navigate your blue dot to the green geocache. Tip: Geocachers call the hiding spot Ground Zero (or GZ).
The GPS signal will get you close to Ground Zero. When you get within 40′ of the cache you should begin searching because the cache is close.
Congratulations You Have Made Your First Find!
Regardless of size, a geocache must always contain a paper log for players to record their caching name and the date of their find. Here are the final steps:
1. Sign the Log – enter the date and your Geocaching name.
2. Log the cache in the app. Be sure to write something about your experience like “I am so excited. I found my very first geocache today. It was so much fun. I cannot wait to find the next one” Always end each log with TFTC (Thanks for the Cache)
Geocaching’s Golden Rule – Larger caches, often contain trinkets ranging from plastic bugs to fake jewels. Geocachers follow a rule that was established by the game’s creator – “If you take something from a cache you must leave something in the cache”.
DNF – Of course there is always a chance that you won’t find the hidden treasure. This happens to the best of us. If you have give the area a thorough search with no success, it is time to log a “Did Not Find” in the app.
I hope you find this information helpful and will get out and give Geocaching a try. I invite you to subscribe to my newsletter for additional tutorials to help keep your geocaching adventures fun and successful.
TIP #1 – The Geocaching app will direct you to within 40′ of the cache. Once you get close you should begin searching the likely hidding places.
TIP #2: Geocaches should not be buried and should not be higher than 6′ above ground.
Tip #3– Geocachers have their own vocabulary. Visit Geocaching 101 to learn the basics.
Geocaching is a lot like golf. Sometimes it is easy and other times it can be very frustrating. But with practice it becomes easier!
Geocache Method is dedicated to inspiring you to enjoy the outdoors through the adventure game of Geocaching. Please subscribe to this blog and follow @Geocachemethod on Instagram, Facebook, and YouTube.
I would appreciate if you would share this with friends and family who might enjoy giving this a try!
If you are an active Geocacher, or become one, you can connect with me via the Geocaching.com app. My Geocache name is GeoCacheMethod (of course).
I hope this encourages you to give geocaching a try. I invite you to join my mailing list to learn more about geocaching and other outdoor activities.
There is so much more to Geocaching than just searching for hidden caches! There are many games within the Geocaching game which keeps it interesting and challenging. I will share information on these concepts in future posts to this blog. Be Safe and Happy Caching!