Have you ever been on a small-scale treasure hunt and thought to yourself, ‘I wonder what it would be like to play this in real life, against people from all over the world?’ – then geocaching is the game for you!
So, what is geocaching? Geocaching is essentially a real-world treasure hunt where participants use GPS coordinates to navigate to a ‘geocache’ hidden at a specific location. There are now dozens of different geocache variations, but for the purpose of this article, we’re going to focus on traditional geocaching, which involves finding a geocaching container This container typically contains a log-book to record your find, and in some cases, items for trade.
How does geocaching work?
If you’ve never tried geocaching before, then it’s best to start at its simplest level. To begin with, you’ll need to register for a Basic Membership online. Then you can enter your postcode into the search box to see geocaches in your near vicinity. Simply click a geocache, enter its coordinates into your GPS device, and use it to take you to the geocache’s location. Be warned – the GPS coordinates may take you to the caches near vicinity, but you’ll still need to do some hunting.
Some geocaches are notoriously hard to find and can be hidden in obscure locations such as behind signs, inside trees, or under rocks. Once you’ve found your first geocache, then you have earned the right to sign in the log-book and must then return the geocache to its original location so that the next person can also enjoy the thrill of finding it.
What do you need to play?
One of the best things about geocaching is that you only need a free membership to Geocaching.com and a GPs device, such as a mobile phone, to play. This makes geocaching accessible to virtually everyone.
What is usually in a geocache?
Most traditional geocaches contain a logbook for you to log your find in but may also contain items for trade. The fun of geocaching relies on the honesty of those who participate, so if you find a geocache with an item inside, then it is important that you leave something of equal or greater value in its place if you choose to take it.
As a geocache player, it is also your responsibility to ensure that the cache remains maintained for the next player, so it is essential that you pack the logbook and cache away in a clear ziplock bag to keep the weather out and then place it back where you found it. If you notice that a geocache is damaged or lost, then you can report this on geocaching.com.
When did geocaching begin?
Prior to midnight on May 2nd, 2000, GPS technology was not very accurate and certainly nothing to write home about, but from May 2nd, this all changed thanks to the removal of selective availability. In an instance, the accuracy of GPS improved dramatically, and GPS users and fanatics around the world suddenly had a much more powerful GPS device in their hands.
Elated by the news, GPs enthusiast, Dave Ulmer, decided to test the accuracy of the new GPS by hiding a target in the woods near to his home and calling the idea the “Great American GPS Stash Hunt.” The container was hidden at N 45° 17.460 W 122° 24.800, and within just three days of posting his instructions on a forum, it was found by two different GPS enthusiasts who then wrote about their experience online. As more people learned about the stash, more people began hiding them and, within the first month, the first person to find Ulmer’s stash deceived to begin recording the locations of other containers and documenting them on his mailing list.
As the popularity of the game grew, user’s decided that stash and stashing weren’t very catchy, and so the term geocaching was born. The term geocaching comes from the prefix geo, meaning earth, and the term caching from the word cache, which means hiding place.
The start of geocaching as we know it today
Nowadays, geocaching is primarily conducted through the Geocaching.com website, which was invited by Jeremey Irish, a web developer from Seattle, who stumbled across Mike Teague’s original site and fell in love with the concept of geocaching. Although Jeremy loved what Mike was doing, he felt that geocaching could be improved with additional features and also the standardization of listings as so worked with Mike to create a new, more user-friendly database and website which has since become the home of geocaching worldwide.
Ready to get started!?
I hope you enjoyed this guide. Are you ready to get started with the exciting world of geocaching? Found anything cool in a geocache that you’d like to share? Let us know in the comments! And don’t forget to check out the rest of our blog for more treasure hunting fun!