Are you looking for an activity for your family? Geocaching is a wonderful way to get your whole family outdoors and participating in something together. It is a world of adventure and excitement. Get outside and enjoy the sunshine (or snow) with geocaching!
What is Geocaching?
Geocaching is treasure hunting! It is a real life hide and seek game; families use GPS and given coordinates to find hidden containers. People from all over the world participate in geocaching. So, wherever you are, the chances are good that people around you participate as well.
Geocaching 101 is so simple. First, you register for a membership and visit the page listing all hidden geocaches in your area. Then, you set out with coordinates in hand. Once you find the cache, you sign the logbook and return it to its location. Share photos and have fun! It is a wholesome, free, family friendly activity.
Quick tip: Some locations may not be kid friendly; those are great date night opportunities!
You can participate in geocaching all over the world. If you find yourself on vacation, you can use the website to find local coordinates. There are over 2 million caches placed around the world!
As you dive into the world of geocaching, you are going to find some acronyms that make you scratch your head. To truly understand everything, there are some acronyms you should know and understand.
- BYOP: Bring Your Own Pencil – in order to sign the logbook.
- CITO: Cache In Trash Out – pick up any trash you find along to the cache.
- DNF: Did Not Find
- FTF: First to Find – written on logbooks
- L: Left – meaning they left a trade item
- NIAH: Needle In A Haystack – going to be a trick find!
- PI: Poison Ivy – beware of the area.
- TFTC: Thanks For The Cache – usually written in logbook
- UPS/R: Unnatural Pile of Sticks/Rocks
- YAPIDKA: Yet Another Park I Didn’t Know About – caches bring people to different parts of their town.
Looking for Geocaches
There is no limit to what geocaches can look like. They can vary in size and container style. Some geocache players are very creative so when you are searching for a cache, note the size on the cache page. Sizes vary from micro (the size of a film canister) up to large (a bucket).
All caches need to be waterproof. Here are some creative ideas for geocaches:
- Pre-cut Logs
- Fake Poop
- Hidden in Nuts and Bolts
- Inside a Birdhouse
- Inside a Tube
- Bird Nests
- Tucked Under a Bench
- Lego Boxes
- Under a Fake Bird
- Inside a Baseball
Geocaches don’t have to be a simple, plain box. Once you become accustomed to geocaching, you can make and hide your own geocaches for others to find. Any member of the geocaching community can hide and maintain the list of caches.
Inside of a cache, there is always a logbook to document your find. Also, some of the larger caches contain items. You may take and keep items from the cache, but it is recommended to leave an item of equal or greater value in return. However, you should always return the geocache to its original location. Sometimes, they are moved and not in the documented area. If this happens, let the cache owner know so they can fix the location.
Going on Your First Search
When you are looking for your first cache, you want to find one that is low in difficulty and terrain. You don’t want to select one that requires an hour hike, uphill. Also, check out the size of the cache. Listed on top of each cache listing is an area that describes the size of the cache. Nano and micro can be tricky to find; some nano sized ones are extremely small.
The detail page for each cache will have all the information needed to find the location. There sometimes are hints telling you additional information. Make sure the most recent log doesn’t say Did Not Find. Sometimes, people remove the caches without realizing they need to stay in that one location.
Every cache will give you the GPS coordinates. For most of the ones in the cities or easy, open areas, Google Maps will suffice just fine. However, to find the ones buried deep into the woods, you are going to need a GPS device. You don’t always need to go buy a new one; many automobile GPS devices are portable and can run on batteries. So, take those coordinates and put them into your GPS; they will take you to Ground Zero (GZ). From there, you need to use the hints and tips to find the cache. This is when the real hunt begins as geocache members can be very creative with their hiding spots.
Once you find the cache, it is time to sign the logbook! Place your username and the date you found the cache. Some include a disposable camera to take your photo. Remember, if you take anything out, it is important to place an item back inside that is of equal value.
Quick tip: A great practice to follow is cache in, trash out. Carry a trash bag with you when go geocaching and collect trash in the area. This keeps the area clean for other members.
You did it! You found and located your first geocache. From this point, you can keep finding more. Any member of the geocaching community can hide a cache. It is simple and just as fun as hiding one.
Enjoy Yourself While Geocaching!
Geocaching is an awesome activity to involve your children. Kids love to find hidden items. Before heading out, go to the dollar store and purchase trinkets to exchange. Some great ideas include:
- Plastic farm animals
- Toy bugs
- Small compasses
- Small LED lights
- Little tools
- Matchbox cars
When you are taking your children out, pick geocaches that are larger, as they are more likely to include items. Remember to bring along good walking shoes and snacks to keep the kids happy. Soon, your whole family will be hooked on geocaching! It is a fun, wholesome family activity that helps everyone work together as a unit.