Many people are searching for new and alternative outdoor activities which offer family fun during their leisure time. An outdoor activity which offers both adventure and an entertaining experience is called Geocaching. This worldwide game of hide and seek begins when someone hides a waterproof container (called a cache) filled with logbook and possibly additional items for others to find.
Geocaching is an alternative outdoor adventure with its roots based in its definition – “Geo” for geography and “caching” for hiding a cache. A cache has several meanings which include a place for hiding provisions or supplies in hiking and camping. In computer terminology, cache is a specific location within a computer where digital information is stored.
What is Geocaching?: Getting Started with this Fun Hide and Seek Game Begins
The hide and seek game begins when someone hides a waterproof container or cache. The person hiding the cache uses a global positioning system (GPS) device to pinpoint the exact location. Along with this location, additional information is posted on the Geocaching website. This information normally includes:
Difficulty – this uses a one (easiest) to five (hardest) star rating system based on the difficulty of locating the cache.
Terrain – this also uses a one to five star rating system based on the difficulty of the terrain in which the cache is hidden.
Hints and Directions – clues for finding the cache, along with directions concerning what to do when cache is located such as sign the logbook, take a picture, or take something and leave something in exchange.
What is in a Cache?: Typical Items
Items usually found with a cache include a logbook or log sheet, notes for visitors, or maybe a traveling trackable item such as a:
Travel Bug – this is a trackable object (has a tracking number engraved on it) which travels from cache to cache, picking up stories along the way. These stories are provided by the people who find them and move them. Travel bugs come in all shapes and sizes including pins, tracking tags, patches, and special tracking dog tags.
Geocoins – also come in all shape and sizes and are sometimes special coins created to mark selected events. These geocoins move from cache to cache just like travel bugs.
The travel of these traveling items is available for any member of Geocaching to follow on the web. The general rule for travel bugs and geocoins is if you take one, you must leave an equal or greater valued item in its place.
Types of Geocaches: Something for Everyone
Geocache hide and seek offers a variety of inexpensive top things to do during weekend getaway. The most popular types of geocaches include:
Traditional – offers the bare minimum with a container and log book. One point to remember is the container can be anything, as long as it is waterproof. Large containers can hold a variety of items for trade.
Multi-Cache – offers the challenge of finding two or more physical containers. Typically the first container (cache) provides hints to find the second container and so forth.
Mystery or Puzzle – this type offers the extra challenge of solving a puzzle to find coordinates of the cache.
Letterbox – the type offers the finder the ability to stamp their own logbook using a rubber stamp located within the cache to record their visit to the cache.
Moving or Traveling – with this type of cache, the finder moves it to a new location and updates the website with new coordinates and hints.
Ecocache – this is a cache located into an environmentally significant area to raise awareness of the area.
Virtual – instead of the traditional container, log book, or trade items. The location contains some other described object. Validation for finding a virtual cache generally requires the finder to email the cache hider with information, such as a date or a name on a plaque at the site. Another option is to post a picture of the finder at the site with GPS receiver in hand.
Materials and Equipment: Necessary Items to Get Started
The only materials needed to get started with Geocaching are access to the Internet, free membership in Geocaching, and a GPS device. There are a several types of GPS devices to select from; however, an inexpensive model is all that is needed. These devices are available from many electronic, camping, or boat supply store. One example is the Geomate.jr.
For someone considering the possibility of beginning Geocaching for themselves or their family, this alternative outdoor adventure has more than 1,000,000 caches worldwide. Also, there are an estimated four to five million geocachers of all age groups enjoying this real-world popular game of hide and seek. Participating in these outdoor activities is fun for everyone involved.
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