Geocaching is the ultimate outside modern-day treasure hunting activity. The basic idea is that individuals or groups have set up treasures or “caches” anywhere in the world and use global positioning systems to assign specific location coordinates that help those searching to locate them. Coordinates are given in longitude and latitude and usually within 5-20 feet of the exact location. Here’s an overview to get you started with this ultimate treasure hunt.
Starting off on your geocaching adventure is simple. You can use a global positioning system (GPS) or a “Geocaching” specific application on your smartphone or tablet. Once you’re set up you can use the GPS to search for your specific caches. This is where using an application comes in, members of the application are able to share their caches on the app so that those hunting can find them. As you begin to look make sure you abide by the rules of geocaching. Typically, there are two types of caches, one where you can take the treasure, and you leave something in place, or you find the treasure and document you’ve found it in an online or paper log with the cache.
What is in a Cache?
A “cache” can be many things. First there should be a logbook. A cache could be as simple as a logbook in a waterproof container so the person who has found it can record their experience of the hunt for the cache. Most often they can have something of value, the cache could include maps, books, toys, money, tickets, jewelry, or games, the possibilities can be endless. Make sure to abide by the rules the owner leaves about the cache. They may say you can take one item as long as you replace it with another similar item. The owner may state to only look and make sure to pack and re-hide the cache for others to enjoy. If you decide to hide a cache, make sure to pick items that would be safe for all ages, and no food please. Hiding a food idea spells disaster. The food could spoil or attract unwanted animal visitors. Make sure you hide on public property so that there is no trespassing. Typically public, state, national, and local parks are a great option.
Finding a Cache
After finding your cache follow the directions left by the original hider. It is so helpful to others geocaching to leave a note or journal about your experience looking for the cache. This can be done via online note taking on the specific geocaching application or in a paper notebook inside the actual cache. This is a fun part about geocaching, being able to connect with others who have also completed the same treasure hunt you have.
Creating Your Own Cache
If you are interested in creating your own cache, make sure you abide by a few rules. Your cache should be kept in a waterproof and animal-proof container. Write clear, specific instructions for others for when they find your cache. You could decide to come up with a theme and create multiple cache’s that connect to one another. I had a coworker that created an environmental science cache for their students, and it was a huge hit! Caches should be placed on public land and maintained. Make sure to check back frequently to see if it is in its original condition and if any updates may be needed. Also make sure the location is in a safe place, like parks or playgrounds and not parking lots or crossroads.
Benefits of Geocaching
Geocaching is a wonderful way to get families, classes, and groups of friends outside and learn through nature. Participants in geocaching are learning geography, how maps work, and an appreciation of the nature around them. The connection with others in geocaching is a huge benefit as well. People are connecting with one another through writing and journaling all through a common cause and the interaction brings a connectedness in those who are participating. Geocaching provides a steppingstone for groups looking for ways to get outside and do well with an organized activity.
I hope this inspires you and your family or students to get outside and try a new activity. Make new goals for yourself as you begin hunting or creating geocaches and watch the geocaching community around you start to develop.
Jessica Stallings MA Ed. is a veteran teacher and tech writer. She is a National Board-Certified Educator who values teaching the whole child and enjoys working with learners of all ages. Her favorite thing as an educator is to watch how technology motivates all different types of learners of varying ability levels. She hopes to empower learners and families to use technology to help connect them to and learn more about the beautiful world we live in. When she isn’t writing or teaching, she loves to spend time on the North Carolina coast with her family and dog, Fletcher.