What is Geocaching?
Basically, geocaching is a worldwide treasure hunt! It started in 2000. Since then, over 3 million caches (things that are hidden) have been placed around the world. Once the treasure is found a log is signed, so the hider knows who’s found it.
The Science Behind Geocaching
When we started geocaching we used handheld GPS (Global Positioning Satellites) trackers. Sometimes, we even used the tracker that stuck to our windshield. While some people still search for caches this way, geocaching has come a long way. Currently, we use the Geocaching App on our smartphones. Once the app is open, search for nearby caches. Click on the one you want to search for. Your GPS will use 3 (flat terrain) to 4 (mountainous conditions) satellites to pinpoint the cache’s exact location using the latitude and longitude of the geocache. These coordinates are entered by the person hiding the cache. Then, use the map and compass to find the hidden cache.
There are several different types of geocaches. One type is the Earthcache. These caches provide educational lessons about the geography of an area. Most times, questions must be answered to get credit for finding the cache. Often, this is done by reading signage in the area. We have one at the wetlands near us that asks questions about animals, plants, and the wetlands themselves.
Why I Enjoy Geocaching
Love the Outdoors and New Places
I love geocaching because it gets me outside and being social. It is the most fun to go with other people. Generally, I go with my daughter. Geocaching is very family-friendly! There is usually lots of hiking or biking involved!
Geocaching takes you to places that you might not normally go to. Several times, a group of us searched for caches that could only be found by boat. We kayaked to these places. One we found was called “Angels by the Sea.” When we learned more about it, we realized it was below a hospice that our grandmother had been in.
Caching has always been part of our vacations. We have cached as we drove across the country. It is a great excuse for a rest stop or to go to a state that’s just a few miles away, so you can say you’ve been there. We have also found caches in Canada, Australia, Japan, and Thailand! In fact, a cache can be just about anywhere. Once, while staying with friends, we told them about geocaching. They downloaded the app, set the location on “find geocaches near me,” and discovered there was a cache 500 feet from their house. They wondered why they had seen people going into the wooded area with flashlights!
Interesting Containers and Hiding Spots
Another reason I enjoy caching is the variety of interesting containers and hiding spots. Caches can range inside from micro to large. Some interesting micros we found are magnetic caches that look like screws where the top comes off and penny on a tree that has been glued to a tube. Similarly, we found a small plastic leaf on the ground along a trail in the brush. When we tugged it, a small tube came out of the ground. Although many midsized caches are in plastic Tupperware-type containers, we have found them in logs and rocks that have been hollowed out and hinged, cans that a “snake” pops out of, etc. The largest cache we found was in a plastic pipe that was about three feet tall.
How to Get Started Geocaching
First, download the app on your phone. Then, give yourself a name. My name is the name of the first place I learned about caching; GreenLakes! Take a pen for signing the logs. Depending on how long you are going to be hunting for you might want water, an extra charger for your phone, suntan lotion, and bug spray. My daughter and I usually stay out longer than we anticipate because we want to find “just one more cache!”
If you are caching with children, bring some “swag” with you. Many caches have little treasures in them. People take one and leave one. Some ideas are foreign coins, trading cards, small plastic animals and rings, shells, pretty rocks, and matchbox cars.
If you want to plan ahead, log into your account on your computer or tablet. Look at the map, and decide where to begin!
To find out more about geocaching, click on this link to go to the official geocaching website.
Geocaching in Education
Here is a blog that tells how geocaching can be used for homeschooling. Other schools are using it in STEM classrooms.
Geocaching is fun, healthy, and educational. So, why not give it a try today!
And remember, it’s all science!
Click here to read about the science of some of our other travels.