What would happen if you bought a medium size waterproof container, filled it with cheap trinkets, hid it somewhere outside, determined its GPS coordinates, and then posted those coordinates on the Internet? People from all over would come and find it! They would sign their names on the log book you included in the container (because you want to know who found it), they would take a trinket from the container and leave something in return, they would later report their find on the internet, and they would go off to find other such hidden containers. Oh, and they would call it Geocaching! (“Geo” meaning “earth” and “cache” being a collection of things.)
I wish I could take credit for devising such a clever hide and seek game, but I can’t. I can tell you to visit www.geocaching.com to learn all about this high-tech scavenger hunt. (That’s where you find and post coordinates and log in your finds.) I am fairly new to the geocaching adventure, but I can tell you it is great fun, educational, and highly addicting!
1. It’s fun!
2. It’s fairly cheap as far as hobbies go. You probably already have what you need: Internet access to geocaching.com (where you can sign up for a free account), a GPS, gas in your vehicle, and a sense of adventure. Of course, like any hobby, you can spend lots of money on geocaching too. You can invest in special GPS’s and/or smart phone apps, you can pay for a premium membership, you can purchase special trinkets to place in caches and “official” gear, and you can drive all over the country. But you don’t have too. Chances are there are hundreds of caches within a day’s drive of where you live.
3. It’s cross-generational. I love it, my 16-year-old daughter loves it, and my 69-year-old father loves it! Because it is an ageless activity it creates great opportunities to bring families together.
4. It gives you something to do on those beautiful days when you want to be outdoors but you don’t own a boat or a membership to the country club.
5. It is educational. Well, it isn’t ALWAYS educational, but many caches are hidden in or around historical areas. One of our best “finds” wasn’t the actual cache (which was too small to contain anything except a log to sign), but the nearby church that was built in the mid-1800’s. We were able to go inside and sit in the slave balcony on the original benches. That had a profound affect on my 16-year-old and sparked some great discussion. Also, some variations of the geocache are non-traditional ones which aren’t containers, but places including geological treasures and historical sites. Because of this…
6. You never really know what you will find or where you will end up! That makes it quite adventurous!
7. It creates great memory-making opportunities… like going caching with good friends along the bank of the Mississippi River. Or when you and your daughter give up the search for a cache deep in the woods but your dad refuses to give up and you think he is truly lost because you can’t hear him any more. (He does make his way out only to trip over a fallen tree and land flat on his back. He’s ok though.)
8. You get to see some beautiful places. If you like photography then this is the hobby for you. Like I said, you never know what you will find. It could be that previously mentioned old church, or a beautiful sunset, or a most unusual magnolia tree, or gravestones marked CSA (Confederate States of America).
9. I’ll let you fill in #9!