I know this is a blog dedicated to the best Hobby in the world, however I run into soo many people that ask me “What is Geocaching?” So I decided it is about time to answer the question and explain how a person can transform from a “Muggle” into a Geocacher. If any of you experienced cachers would like to add anything, please leave a comment or tip for any potential cachers reading this post.
Our world is out there waiting for us to explore her as well as unlock her treasures. Or as we like to call it, finding a geocache. Geocaching is the best way to be a part of this quest.
<--------------Looking for a cache
Geocaching has been defined in many different ways ranging from a modern day treasure hunt using multi-million dollar satellites to find Tupperware in the woods to a sophisticated hybrid sport combining outdoor activities with GPS technology. Geocachers hide containers ranging in size for others to find. After the cache is placed it is then listed on Geocaching.com. Each cache contains a log sheet and varies in size; the bigger caches contain items for trade referred to as SWAG. The rules are simple if you take something, leave something of equal or greater value and hide the cache in same location you found it. Sign the log so you can get credit for your efforts on Geocaching.com Example of Jackson from Cacheseekers! Finding a Cache. Geocaching is all around us. It has many different levels and facets. Most people are shocked when they realize caches are everywhere. They are hidden in urban settings we pass by every day and don’t even realize they are there; from stop signs to light pole skirts. Other caches take you on hikes and some may require specialized equipment such as scuba gear or repelling equipment to find them. Any way you look at it, Geocaching offers many benefits and is best described by a person after they find their first cache. After people find their first cache they usually have their own personal way to describe Geocaching. Oh and often times, they are hooked on a new lifelong hobby.
Benefits of Geocaching
PHYSICAL ACTIVITY: Geocaching gets people off of the couch and the computer and into the beauty of our world. It is the one activity where you are the search engine.
MENTAL ACTIVITY: Geocahers have to tap into a variety of skills, from outdoor safety, compass directions, understanding longitude and latitude to puzzle solving. Some caches require a lot of brain power and require extra thought. Searching for the cache is an adventure.
GEO KNOWLEDGE: Cachers learn directions and new locations. Once people start geocaching they discover new place and spaces and have an increased knowledge of places they would normally not know about.
MEMBERSHIP IN GREAT COMMUNITY: Being a geocacher opens doors to new relationships and lifelong friendships. The geocaching community is made up of a variety of people from young to old and all walks of life. They are an accepting community welcoming new cachers with open arms. There is no official membership card or dues.
SWAG: SWAG: (Stuff We All Got) is the name given to the items found and traded inside bigger caches. When it comes down to it, finding some good SWAG is always exciting. Some people collect SWAG and display on SWAG boards or displays. It is also fun to tap into your creative side and create your own personal SWAG to leave in caches.
EDUCATION: There is so much to learn from geocaching, a lot of caches are placed on or near historic markers or places. A lot of these markers are off the beaten path or almost forgotten about pieces of history. It is fun to discover the places that created history and learn something while physically at the location. Earthcaches are an excellent learning opportunity; the purpose of an EarthCache is to share information about a particular geological location.
FREE Family Activity: This is my favorite benefit. When you plan a caching trip there are no admission fees, overpriced souvenirs to buy or a need for a savings plan to fund a caching adventure. Most caches are near by. For example, there are 414 caches within 5 miles of my home. We also like to make it a family outing and race to fin the cache first, my kids love it. Finding Your First GeoCache First you need to create a free account at Geocaching.com. This is the original and most popular caching site. In order to start your account you will need to select a caching name and a password. Hint: Select a short easy to spell caching name, shorter names will fit on logs better and other cachers will know you by this name. Be creative and use something that is personalized to you. For example my son caches under the username “McAwesome.” You'll also need a valid e-mail address. Geocaching.com will send you an account confirmation e-mail asking you to validate your account by clicking on an e-mail link. Once you're logged in to the Geocaching.com website, you'll want to go to the tab, Hide & Seek a Cache. Seek a cache by address, zip code, state or country, or by keyword, GC (Geo Cache) code, or the username of the geocacher who hid or found the cache. Then click "Go" you'll soon receive a list of caches within your search criteria. Caches will appear in order of location closest to your criteria. You now have a few options from here:
GPS CACHING: follow the prompts and send the caches to your GPS (requires GPS & knowledge of how to use GPS)
PAPER CACHING: research the cache, figure out clues, look it up on Google Maps, print and go search. This is how I found my first cache without a GPS.
SMART PHONE CACHING: Once you have a geocaching account at Geocaching.com you can go to the application store and download free geocaching programs. My favorite is C GEO, but there are several available. Once you download the application it will ask you for your Geocaching.com user name and password. After you are logged in you start locating caches nearby. This is my favorite type of caching.
When your list of nearby caches populates there will be a few things to consider. The cache page will provide a lot of information. The first thing a new cacher should look at is the size of the cache. The size will be listed in a grid under a box with numbers; the numbers represent the cache terrain and difficulty. The size box will vary in size starting on the left with the smallest box representing a micro and will increase in size to the right representing larger cache types.
Location Type/ Size Difficulty/Terrain Date Last Found Cache Name
Examples of different caches sizes and containers:
Large – This is listed as the size of a 5 gallon bucket. Least popular size but when you do see this size cache on your result listing, try to find it! These caches are usually full of great SWAG or located inside very creative containers. Usually these caches are easy to spot.
Regular – A regular is an ammo can, peanut butter jar, or other container that is about the size of a large coffee can. There will be plenty of room for trade items and track able items. This is the type you should look for on your first few.
Small – Defined as holding a log book and a few trade items. This size is usually about the size of an Altoid can or magnetic key holder and smaller than Regular size.
Micro /Nano-This cache type is listed as a 35mm film canister size or smaller. This typically holds a log sheet and nothing else. BYOP (Bring your own pen) or Nano, so tiny it uses 1/4″tall strip of paper for log book. These are often called Mr. Magnito and they are about the size of two #2 pencil erasers and magnetic. These are HARD to find especially on your first few finds. Usually need tweezers to get log out to sign.
Locating your selected cache / GZ (Ground ZERO)
You have picked your first cache and now on way to GZ. Once you are within 20-30 feet of the cache start hunting for the cache with your eyes. Do not rely only on your GPS, map or Smart Phone at this point. Those tools got you this close; now trust your detective skills. You are the greatest search engine in this game. Rely on your instincts and geo senses.
Think like the hider; ask yourself where you would hide the same size container.
Read the hints and prior logs to get clues.
Look in areas muggles would not. One popular hiding place is under light pole skirts, this is called a LPC hide and when you find it you are “Skirt Lifting.”
Look for suspicious items, like a random pile of rocks, stack of weeds or vegetation not typical in area.
Look high and low most caches are not eye-level for a reason. After you locate your first cache, try to keep the excitement under control; do not draw attention to you or the cache location. Find and sign the log, trade items if applicable, then return cache to original location. After you leave GZ you will need to log your visit at Geocaching.com if you want to keep track. If you are paper caching write yourself a note about cache and GC# (Geo Cache #.) If you are GPS caching select found and your GPS will save the information for you. Smart Phone cachers can log the find at GZ or nearby; selecting Log Visit Option then log find. Log your cache and it will appear on your caching profile with a smiley face, indicating your find. This is just a glimpse in this worldwide treasure hunt of geocaching. To learn more you can attend a geocaching event, read blogs such as LiveLoveCache.Com Google the word Geocaching or just keep looking for different types and sizes of hides. You will not find every cache you try to find, but every cache you look for gives you experience to use for your next hunt. LiveLoveCache.com