Geocaching: High Tech Treasure Hunt, Fun For the...
Geocaching (pronounced Geo-cashing) is a great family activity, that be fun for the whole family, as well as individuals. First off, a quick primer on what it is. Geocaching is a game or hobby, that GPS users (Global Positioning Satelite) hide, and seek "treasure". Users set up and hide containers of various sizes and camoflagues, and post the GPS coordinates on the geocaching website. Other users look up those hides by typing in thier zip codes or other search critera. Then they go and find the hidden container and sign the logbook inside with their geocaching name, or tag. Then, later on you log your finds online, with your profile name. Our family is the5Bucks. We have been geocaching since November of 2004 and have found just over 2000 caches. We have also hidden over 70. You can hide or find as many as you wish, but it does take effort to maintian your hides, to ensure they are safe, and replacing logsheets and such. The number 1 geocacher in the world has over 25 thousand finds! Can you say obsessed?
The sizes range from "micro's", which can be film canisters or mint tins, to average sizes such as tupperware or ammo cans, to large ones such as buckets or rubbermaid boxes. Sometimes users have to solve puzzles or trivia questions to get the coordinates. Others have multiple stages to get to the final locaction. The game started in the year 2000 in Oregon, and quickly spread to over 200 countries. (there is a neat history of how it started on the website.) It has gained in popularity every year, and there are events such as picnics and other get-togethors in most areas. There is even a mega-event each year called Geo-Woodstock. This year it will be in Wheatland CA, and we are excited that it is close enough so we can attend.
There are "rules" that should be followed to keep things safe for everyone involved. I will not list them all but they need to be over 540 feet from an exsisiting cache, and not placed in a dangerous spot, ie, near railroad tracks or near government instalations. They must be on Public land, if some states or counties require permission to hide a cache. All the listing requirements can be found on the website, as well as a guide to hiding your first one. Its a good idea to find 100 or so before you place one yourself. That way, you will understand what is considered acceptable.
Of course you will need a GPS, which range from $75.00 for a simple unit, to over $500.00 for a model with color maps and other special features. There is a guide to buying a GPS on the website as well. Basic memberships are free, and for $3.00 a month, users can get instant updates on recent hides, and other great user freindly features. For us, it is money well spent.
Since we started, we always cache when we are on vacation, which makes things always exciting. We usually seem to find great out of the way places, and spots that are history rich. You can post photo's of your adventures on the site, and each member or "team" has their own profile page that keeps track of all your finds and hides, as well as other info you post. It is fun to look at other members profiles and finds, and see the many interesting spots folks have hidden caches. In our area, every park, nature area, as well as most shopping centers and other urban area, has a cache hidden there. You have probably driven by thousands of geocaches in your area without knowing it, so why not go and start finding them? We are glad we are geocachers, and have so many adventures to (literally) look back on. As we say in all our online logs, Cache On!
I have to agree. I've been caching since Nov. of '06 and have found over 1,200, and hidden over 110. I also bring my kids along to some of the hunts. They are 4 and 6 and really enjoy finding the "treasures" - especially ones with toys inside that they can trade for. I enjoy creating and hiding caches as much as finding them, as I get to read about how people find my hides and figure out my puzzles. Also, there are event caches, where you get to meet other cachers and share your experiences. All in all, it's a great hobby!