Geocaching: The GPS Treasure Hunt

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Geocaching comes from the terms “geo” (Earth) and “cache” (store away). It’s a sport that tests its participants physically and mentally while building a community for adventurers and outdoor enthusiasts.

What is Geocaching?

In May of 2000, the government removed selective availability on GPS technology, making it possible for the public to more accurately pinpoint their locations. On May 3rd, Dave Ulmer decided to test these new capabilities. He hid a geocache (a container filled with goodies) in the woods of Beavercreek, Oregon and posted its coordinates online. Since then geocaching has grown with 1.8 million geocaches and 5 million participants worldwide.

Ulmer’s original geocache has remained as a primary model for others. Individuals fill a waterproof container with a writing utensil, a logbook (so people can record their name) and small prizes. They hide the container and post the coordinates on a geocaching website for other individuals to find. People search for the box and leave messages for the owner of the geocache.

Geocaches range in difficulty. Some geocaches can be easily found in community parks while others require a lot of skill. You can scuba dive off the coast of Honduras or rock climb an old brick bridge in Germany for a cache. The prizes vary as well. Some leave toys or key chains; others leave CDs or DVDs. Another popular geocache feature is disposable cameras. Successful seekers take a picture and leave the camera for the geocache owner.

What You Need for Your GPS Treasure Hunt

There are a number of things that cache-seekers need. Before the journey begins, they use the coordinates of a particular geocache, a GPS receiver, a map, and a compass to map out their journey. With the previously mentioned items in hand, these seekers head out. They may also pack basics like gloves, a first-aid kit, water, extra batteries, and a flashlight just in case. They also bring their own unique trinkets to put in the geocache.

Geocaching has gotten so popular that towns now have geocaching community clubs. Geocaching is a good way to get some exercise in the great outdoors. It’s a fun, bonding hobby for friends. And it’s a fun summer activity that the kids will enjoy. You can even try to find geocaches while you’re traveling or on vacation.

To learn more about geocaching try Geocaching and Opencaching.