Here’s a fun, family-friendly way to exercise both mind and body. Geocaching: the fast growing sport of the modern-day treasure hunt.
Instead of a pirate’s map marked with an X, you’ll use a GPS receiver, a set of coordinates and (optionally) clues. You won’t be hunting for a buried chest but instead you'll be looking for a cache of goodies hidden in an eco-friendly site above ground.
What’s A CACHE?
Geocachers have hidden caches all over the world. They are contained in a waterproof box and consist of trinkets (no you won’t get rich), a logbook with pen or pencil, and maybe a disposable camera.
These prizes are then cleverly hidden in both urban and rural areas; you’ll be amazed at how many of these treasure troves are already hidden in your locale. I have discovered that there are over 954 caches in Amsterdam, NY, a nearby city.
You can find the geographical coordinates for these trinket hordes on several websites. One of the most popular is geocaching.com .
Visitors are free to take items from the stash provided they leave something behind. Cache treasures are known in the hobby as swag. Coins, small toys, ornamental buttons, CDs, or books are common swag items.
"Hitchhikers" are objects that are moved from cache to cache called Travel Bugs or Geo coins. Their travels may be logged and followed online. Cachers who initially place a Travel Bug or Geo coin often assign specific goals for their trackable items. Examples of goals are to be placed in a certain cache a long distance from home, or to travel to a certain country, or to travel faster and farther than other hitchhikers in a race.
Login to geocaching.com and you will find the coordinates for over 3 million caches! There are no dues to pay or clubs to join (although they are available). Simply get your coordinates and begin the hunt. Even the most basic handheld GPS will suffice to lead you to the coordinates of the geocache. You’ll also want a local map since there is not likely to be a straight path between those coordinates. You need a map to select your route. There are of course more sophisticated GPS models that allow you to load a map into the unit; you can check out the unit’s at the site’s Shopping section.
The easiest and most common form of coordinates is the latitude and longitude of the cache which you will get from the website. You will input these to your handheld GPS and off you go.
When you find a cache you will also find a logbook to sign to prove you’ve been there for purposes of the game.
Standard Equipment *
A GPS receiver and a topo map are required. These items will come in handy and ensure your safety:
- Flashlight Be prepared in case dark falls before you expect it.
- Water bottle Stay well hydrated. It’s good for you!
- Cell Phone Give your planned itinerary to someone and bring along a phone.
- First aid kit Always a good idea.
- Insect repellant and sunscreen there’s bugs in dem dar woods.
- Extra batteries carry them for each electronic device that you have.
- Outerwear:Always a good idea in case the weather changes.
- Notebook and 2 pens:Keep a running log of all your caches. Record waypoints and coordinates for future reference. Jot down your impressions of the landscape. Take along a spare pen or pencil not just for yourself but also for the cache in case its pen has run dry.
- Cache treasures:Cache finders will want to leave behind a little token (as well as take one as a souvenir). Think small, lightweight, environmentally (and culturally) friendly, inexpensive and nondegradable ideas: toy cars, tiny plastic action figures or marbles are good examples.
*REI Outdoor School
How Much Do Receivers Cost
Garmin dominates this field and they offer handheld GPS products with geocaches pre-loaded into the device as well as devices that can receive downloads directly from geocache.com. Prices on the Garmin website range from $109 to $999. Amazon offers Garmin and Magellan beginner models for around $80.
Here are some thoughts I gleaned from a geocacher blog:
Discovery and adventure still exit in the world!
It gets you outside!
Great way to stay healthy and have fun!
Fun for the whole family!
See the world!
Discover places at home you never knew about!
Learn fun facts about planet earth and give back too!
You’ll be amazed by the work of artists and engineers and the amazing caches they create. I saw one that looked like a public telephone hidden in plain site on a city street!
Make knew friend, perhaps a new love?
You’ll be challenged physically and mentally with moments of peace and serenity as well.
Gain a life time of stories to tell!
Geocaching was originally similar to the 160-year-old game letterboxing, which uses clues and references to landmarks embedded in stories. Geocaching was conceived shortly after the removal of Selective Availability from the Global Positioning System on May 2, 2000, because the improved accuracy of the system allowed for a small container to be specifically placed and located. The first documented placement of a GPS-located cache took place on May 3, 2000, by Dave Ulmer.
A video, a sling shot and a can of beans were among the first cache items.
Over time, a variety of different hide-and-seek-type activities have been created or abandoned, so that "geocaching" may now refer to hiding and seeking containers, or locations or information without containers.
This can be easily summarized as leave any geocaching location better than you found it, stay on designated trails and don’t trespass.
It is also good form to sign the register of the cache and record your visit on geocache.com as well.
As previously mentioned, you may take a trinket from the cache but it is expected that you will leave on of greater value.
Don’t move the cache to a spot you think is better; it should be left where you find it.
Cache in Trash Out is a geocaching organization dedicated to maintain the natural beauty of geocache locations. So far, 240,000 people have volunteered for over 11,000 CITI events. Learn more at CITI’s website CITI .
If you are looking for an inexpensive handheld GPS you’ll find one in our store if you click this link GPS Tracker .
Please visit us at http://www.windandwatertoys.com .