Go Outside and Play
Yes, I am an Geocacher! I use Billion-dollar government satellites to find plastic treasure hidden in the woods.
Geocaching is a great way to spend time outdoors with family and friends, keep physically and mentally active, and have a lot of fun along the way. For those unfamiliar with Geocaching, it is described on Geocaching.com as
“a real-world, outdoor adventure that is happening all the time, all around the world”.
The players, called “Geocachers”, use GPS Receivers and/or cellphones to search for caches which are generally hidden in 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). Each cache is rated on a scale of 1 to 5 by difficulty, terrain, and size.
Regardless of size, a cache must contain a paper log for players to record their Geo-name and the date of their find. The larger the cache, the more goods it might contain. Larger caches often contain trinkets ranging from plastic bugs to fake jewels. I have found foreign currency and even a lottery ticket, but it is more about the hunt than finding anything of real value. Geocachers adhere to the rule of if you take something from a cache you must leave something which was the first rule established by the games creator.
Geocaching has a very interesting history which began on May 2, 2000 when President Bill Clinton discontinued the use of Selective Availability which made GPS signals more accurate and responsive to civil and commercial users. This change gave all GPS receivers an upgrade in accuracy paving the way for GPS techies to accurately pinpoint their location.
The very next day, May 3 a guy named Dave Ulmer place the very first “GPS Stash” a black bucket with a logbook and pencil, and a bunch of other treasure including a slingshot. Dave’s rules at the find were simple: “Take some stuff, leave some stuff”. Dave posted the waypoints to the stash on an online community and waited. Within three days, two different players had found the bucket and logged their experience online. It was game on!
Geocaching is made possible by the United States commitment to maintaining the availability of at least 24 operational GPS satellites in space. All you need to begin Geocaching is a smartphone or a GPS receiver. Download the Geocaching app to your smartphone. There is a free version available but I encourage you to upgrade to a Premium account which is $10 per year. Premium membership provides access to over 3 million caches and will help ensure your first outing results in successful finds.
There are many things that I love about this activity. Mainly, it gets me out of the house and takes me to places that I never would have visited. When I travel for work it gets me out of the hotel to explore places off the tourist path.
Give it a try! I guarantee it will take you to places, right in your own neighborhood, that you never knew exited!
My current number of Finds – 641 Caches
Longest Streak – 48 days with Finds
Finds in ten states with 417 in Illinois followed by 47 in California
Finds in four countries including 41 in Canada
My Find furthest from home – 7433.672 miles (Taiwan)
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.
TIP #1 – Getting started is easy just download the Geocaching app on your smartphone.
TIP #2 – Geocachers have their own vocabulary. Visit Geocaching 101 to learn the basics
Tip #3 – Geocaching is a lot like golf. Sometimes it is easy and other times it can be very frustrating. That’s what keeps us going back to try again and again.
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If you are an active Geocacher, or become one, you can connect with me via the Geocache app. My Geocache name is Camp Method!