“Calling All Treasure Hunters” Did you know, all over the world, there are millions of treasure caches hidden? And… their coordinates are listed so anyone can find them? Cool Beans! One of our family favourite year round outdoor activities is Geocaching and you may be surprised how close a hidden cache is to you.
What is Geocaching?
A friend from British Columbia described geocaching as “ a treasure hunt, using millions of dollars worth of technology, to find a Tupperware container full of dollar store junk”. She wasn’t far off, but she isn’t quite accurate either.
Geocaching is a game that is played internationally. People hide a cache, the ‘treasure’, and post the coordinates on Geocaching.com. Folks who are registered with the site can access these coordinates and go find the cache.
What is a Cache?
There are many different types of caches. Each one is rated on a star system for difficulty to find and the terrain. If you have special needs or considerations the rating system will help you determine which caches are accessible to you.
In each cache you will find a log book and pencil, so you can record who you are and when you found the cache. Below is just a few of the cache types out there:
Earth Cache – An Earth Cache is not a cache per se, they are usually coordinates to a natural site, like a rock formation, scenic view point, or historical site, among others. These are more a case where the treasure is the destination.
To log these as found, cachers will need to answer a question about what they have seen. Go to Earth Cache for more information about these.
Micro-Cache – These little critters can be pretty tough to spot. Often just a disguised film canister or prescription bottle that contains only a log book and pencil. These are more of a find for the journey.
They also have proven to be the most popular kind for us to find in the local parks and other crazy places in town. We found one once in the hole of a tree with a rubber snake attached to it by fishing line. It was a delightfully scary find.
Regular or Traditional Cache – These are generally the ‘Treasure Boxes’ referred to when folks talk about geocaching. They are often Tupperware container sized boxes, with the log book, pencil and various ‘treasures’.
Multi-Cache – These cache types will send you to more than one destination before you find the actual log book location. The first set of co-ordinates will send you to a clue with the second set of coordinates and so on until you get to the end.
Trackables – These are really neat. So far we have located three different types:
- Travel Bug – It’s a type of tag
- Geocoin – As the name implies, it is a coin
- Robot – Kinda looked like an action figure
These each have a tracking or tracing number that is registered by the owner. The owner also determines and registers the travel goals for their trackables. Typically they are found by cachers, moved to another location and then the new location gets logged.
What Do You Need to Geocache?
- GPS (Global Positioning System)or Map and Compass – If you have a smart phone, there are apps that can be down loaded to turn your phone into a GPS System. We use a handheld unit from Garmin.
- Bug Spray and Sunscreen – Some cache locations are in the back country.
- A Water Bottle and Snacks – If you are going to one of the more out there locations, you will need something to get you through.
- An Eagle Eye and Plenty of Patience – The caches are well hidden so they don’t get ‘muggled’ (taken or trashed by the non-caching public) so you may miss seeing them and have to back track.
- Something to Trade Up – When you find a cache, the etiquette is to ‘Trade Up’. This means you take something and leave something of equal or greater value (TSLS).
How Do You Play?
- The first step is to go to Geocaching.com and create a user name and password.
- Enter your postal code and it will show you the caches that are in your area.
- Download the coordinates into your GPS system.
- Go find Treasure!
5 Fun Facts about Geocaching
1 Geocaching was created by Dave Ulmer on May the 3rd, 2000. The day after GPS technology had become available to the general public.
2 Geocashing.com, the official website for Geocaching, was created by Jeremy Irish on September 2nd, 2000. It launched with only 75 cache listings.
3 The original name for geocaching was ‘GPS Stash Hunt’.
4 ‘Geocache’ means ‘hidden location on Earth’. ‘Geo’ means Earth, and ‘cache’ is a French word meaning ‘a hidden location or place’. It was coined by Matt Stum on May 30th 2000.
5 Government House, in Regina, Saskatchewan, has a geocaching program for students. Armed with a provided GPS, map and clues, the students are sent ‘treasure hunting’ throughout the 8.5 acre Edwardian gardens that surround the house.
After the initial investment of a GPS, or GPS app, Geocaching is an economical way to spend a day out with the family. It is a fun, active pursuit that requires communication, cooperation, and occasionally a band aid.
Finding treasure may not be so far away.
Do you Geocache? What treasures have you found? Let us know in the comments or post your photo’s on Twitter #geocaching.
Title – Geocaching.com