I will never forget the first time I discovered geocaching. I was covering a story about a coastal clean up in Edgewater when I noticed a family of four scouring an area of George R. Kennedy Memorial Park like they had lost something they couldn’t live without. I watched the husband step up on a bench, reach up into the pavilion roof and bring down a small container, no bigger than a film canister. The family, who would later be introduced to me as the “Corbettz” team from Apopka, huddled in a circle, opened the container and pulled out a small piece of paper.
As I stood there looking confused, a voice behind me spoke up and said,“Do you know what geocaching is?” I shook my head no as I turned around to meet active cacher, Sean Sharrow. He started explaining the game, and although I was very intrigued, I just didn’t get it. I took a couple more photos, finished my assignment and went home to do what any Echo Boomer would, and Googled it.
What is geocaching and how does it work?
The first thing I read on Geocaching.com was, “Geocaching is a real-world treasure hunt that’s happening right now, all around you. There are 2,650,079 active geocaches and over 6 million geocachers worldwide.” I couldn’t believe what I was reading. How were so many people involved in something I knew nothing about?
The reporter in me had to know more! I read the entire website, watched tutorials online, downloaded the free app and created my account; #TeamHashtag was born. I logged into the app and couldn’t believe what I saw. I was at my house in Florida Shores and could literally turn in any direction and head towards hundreds of caches.
Confused yet? Here is a summary of information directly from their website to help explain:
What is a geocache?
A geocache is a container that contains a logbook.They vary greatly in size and appearance. In the field you will see everything from large, clear plastic containers to film canisters to a fake rock with a secret compartment.The word geocaching refers to GEO for geography, and to CACHING, the process of hiding a cache. A cache in computer terms usually refers to information stored in memory to make it faster to retrieve, but the term is also used in hiking and camping as a hiding place for concealing and preserving provisions.
Where are geocaches located?
Geocaches can be found all over the world. It is common for geocachers to hide caches in locations that are important to them, reflecting a special interest or skill of the cache owner. These locations can be quite diverse.They may be at your local park, at the end of a long hike, underwater or on the side of a city street.
What do I need to go geocaching?
The only necessities are a free membership and a GPS device or a GPS-enabled mobile phone so that you can navigate to the cache.
How do I find the cache and what should I do once I’ve found it?
There are many things to know about searching for a cache. For instance, did you know that there is a slight “error” to every GPS device due to technological limitations? Your device can get you close to the cache, but there are a number of things to consider as you get closer to the cache location.
What’s inside a geocache?
When you find the cache, sign the logbook and return it to the cache. You can take an item from the cache if you like – just make sure to leave something of equal or greater value in its place. When you are finished, put the cache back exactly as you found it, even if you think you see a better spot for it. Finally, visit the cache page to log your find and share your experience with others.
Who hides geocaches?
Members of the geocaching community hide and maintain all of the geocaches listed on Geocaching.com. You can hide one, too! Find out how online.
What is the difference between a basic and a premium membership?
A basic membership is completely free and will show you caches in your immediate area, new ones will pop up, as you get closerto them. A premium membership will unlock new features that will make your geocaching experience even better, including premium- only caches, advanced mapping, custom searches and offline geocaching. A three-month premium membership is $9.99 and a year membership is $29.99.
You won’t understand the feeling of finding a cache until you try it for yourself. No, you don’t win anything and there is nothing more than signing your name to the log and replacing it after you have found it, but that does not make it any less addictive. I started caching over a year ago and I still get excited when I have the chance to find a new one. My entire family enjoys it, too. We are constantly taking road trips, and always make it a point to cache along the way.
If you find yourself wanting to get outside, but don’t know exactly what you want to do, try geocaching. Let the treasure hunt lead your way and explore places you wouldn’t normally see.