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Geocaching As An Absolute Beginner

May 15, 2018

Geocaching is basically a treasure hunting game that you play in the real world using GPS to locate “caches”, which are usually containers that have been hidden by other players filled with small items or toys in addition to a log book for players who find the cache to sign.  Caches can also be very small (micro or nano) with only room for a logbook. The appeal in the smaller caches is that they’re even more of a challenge to locate.

I’ve known that Geocaching was a thing for about 16 years, and I’ve had an account on for a while, but it never really occurred to me to give it a go until a couple of weeks ago.

The pieces all sort of came together when my husband reminded me that he owns a hand held GPS device (my phone is garbage), and I realized that our girls are finally at an age where going out and exploring more is a lot easier than it used to be with a baby in tow.

I like to collect as much information as I can before trying something new, so first I turned to my PC and began to research the hobby of geocaching.  There is a lot of information out there on the subject, but I think the most important thing to know besides how to locate a cache is definitely the etiquette of geocaching.

For example, the items (swag) that may be found in a cache aren’t just there to be taken, they’re there to be traded (unless they’re trackables). Also you only trade things of equal or greater value. This makes perfect sense to me, but unfortunately based on the few caches I’ve found so far, most people seem to think it’s ok to fill a cache they have found with bits of litter, nails, screws and pine cones, which is really a shame. I have been making a habit of trying to leave some interesting things behind for other people to find though.

Another important part of geocaching is doing it discreetly so as to not alert anyone who isn’t “playing” to the secret location of a cache. This isn’t the easiest thing in the world to do with young children!

We tell our girls that we’re “treasure hunting” and it’s a big secret so we have to be really careful to be sneaky about it so people who aren’t treasure hunting can’t find the treasures. It’s worked so far, but they need a lot of reminding.

Most coordinates to caches are completely free on the website. I was really surprised by how many caches were right in our local area, and I paid for a 3 month subscription to gain access to even more locations and to unlock some bonus features on the website, however paying is certainly not a requirement to play.

The official (free) geocaching app is very good too, especially if you are using your phone for GPS. It’s definitely a lot handier to have your phone for bonus clues and general information about the site.

So far we have found about as many as we’ve been unable to find, but not being able to find them makes it challenging which is definitely part of the appeal. Though we have only gone out a few times with the intention of geocaching, each time has been a lot of fun, and we’re doing a lot of exploring that we wouldn’t have done otherwise which has been the best part for me, especially since I didn’t grow up around here.

My plan going forward is to keep trying to find as many caches as I can and see how I feel once the 3 month subscription runs out. If I end up resubscribing, I’d really like to make my own cache for other people to find, or maybe more than one, but that’s probably getting a bit ahead of myself!

If you’re looking for something to do at little to no cost, at this point I’d absolutely recommend it as both a solo and a family activity, particularly to people like me who find it difficult to get out and explore without a destination in mind. all you need really is some form of GPS, a pen and a mode of transportation. :)



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