Outdoors

Geocaching takes you on a modern-day treasure hunt




gps2On treasure maps of old, X marked the spot.

Today’s treasure might be marked N 41 51.649 W 085 46.433.

Confused? Then you probably haven’t heard about geocaching (pronounced geo-cashing).

Geocaching, a modern-day treasure hunt activity, uses global positioning systems (GPS), handheld radio-based navigation systems that give a location’s longitude and latitude “address” with coordinates. For example, N 41 51.649 W 085 46.433 will lead you to Camp Tamarack in Michigan.

To play, someone must first hide a cache, or container, with an object inside. The hider gives the seeker the item’s coordinates, and the seeker uses GPS to find the item. “It sounds simple, but it can be quite hard,” says Erik Sherman, who wrote the book “Geocaching: Hike and Seek With Your GPS.” “The GPS signal will get you within about 40 feet of the spot, but some people are fiendishly clever in how they hide the cache.”

Caches have been hidden in all kinds of places, such as the heart of Manhattan, Antarctica and even 120 feet under water.

gps1THE FUN IS IN THE FINDING

Bringing home the treasure might be the goal, but “the real fun is the search itself,” Sherman says.

And when you find a cache and take a trinket, you must leave a trinket for the next finder.

Life Scout Khris Brown, 17, of Troop 963, Valparaiso, Ind., has participated in geocaching with his troop.

“My favorite part is hiding the caches,” he says. “It’s fun to see how long it takes the other Scouts to find it.”

Geocaching is a great way to hone your navigation skills.

“Bring a compass with you because GPS units can have trouble under heavy tree cover,” Sherman advises. “And be sure to remember where you entered the area so you can get back out.”

REMEMBER THE RULES

gps3Avid geocacher Dr. Mary Stevens, who mapped out the first geocaching course for a national Scout jamboree, says there are four basic geocaching rules:

1. Safety: Stay far away from traffic or railroad crossings. Don’t place a cache higher than six feet or require dangerous climbing or swimming to retrieve it. Avoid hiding caches near electrical switch boxes. And always enforce the buddy system.

2. Respect the environment: Never bury a cache in the ground. Avoid sensitive ecosystems. Don’t place caches in archaeological or historical sites. Don’t deface any object.

3. Respect private property: Get permission from landowners to hide caches. Caches are not allowed on national park lands, national wildlife reserves, military installments and school properties.

4. Be a positive ambassador for Scouting by following the Scout Oath and Law.

MORE INFORMATION

For the best online geocache information in the world, check out geocaching.com and its excellent frequently-asked-questions page.

Here are some good books to get you started in geocaching:

For Younger Readers

For Older Readers

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Comments about “Geocaching takes you on a modern-day treasure hunt”

  1. geocacher dude says:

    I have found geocaches on two continents and in two countries and 12 states. It is an awesome hobby and you can do it anywhere, literally!

  2. yo says:

    if you have a iphone i read that you can buy a $10 geocashing app

  3. dtlux says:

    They should have a geocaching merit badge.

  4. dtlux says:

    I was geocaching befor i heard of this website. It kind of dosn’t obey the rule of leave no trace. It is realy fun. :D

    PS: You dont need a GPS to geocache. I don’t have one :D

    • Leg0Maniac says:

      It might seem that geocaching violates the Leave No Trace statement of scouting, but not if you follow the rule “Cache In, Trash Out” rule.

      In the end, Leave no Trace is really about leaving the environment better than we found it.

  5. bugerholic says:

    If you don’t have a gps you shoud go to R.E.I. they have a secion of geocaching

  6. natitonic says:

    to sweatmaster: it WOULD be a cool idea, but you cant leave food as a trinket, it probably wouldnt fit in the cache anyways.

  7. irishman says:

    its sort of hard when you dont have a gps

  8. sweatmaster says:

    i wonder if freeze dried ice cream would make a good trinket…..

  9. Dewbdobydoo says:

    When I went geocashindg i found a cansas coin

  10. mom of two boys says:

    My family loves to go geocaching. We can get the kids outdoors and away from video games and the tv.

  11. star says:

    I love to geocache with my family

  12. Topo-Man-Dan says:

    You can also use programs such as google to find geocaches. That’s actually how I found my first two caches.

  13. Pete says:

    id like to hunt it!!

  14. ace man says:

    i love geocaching

  15. mudkip775 says:

    I have cash not even a 5 min. walk from my house and it is in an army amo box!

  16. Orienteering Merit Badge 1234 says:

    Sometimes, global positioning systems locators are too precise and too exact. Some ways of describing a location are archaic when using a map, compass and land features (topography) to locate a given treasure. Sometimes, coordinates don’t give reference to intermittant streams or directions such as turn left at the field stone well and go straight for the large hickory tree which is growing near the blackberry plants.

  17. lpyankeefan says:

    We’ve been geocaching since March of 2005 and currently have found over 2,700 geocaches and hidden 203 for others to find. My family and I enjoy geocaches that involve either hiking or visiting local parks the most. One of the toughest that I’ve found involved a nine mile roundtrip hike along the Youghigheny River in Western Maryland. The hike was easy until the last half mile which involved either bushwhacking through VERY dense foliage along the rive or boulder hopping in the river.

    What a GREAT day!

    lpyankeefan

  18. lpyankeefan says:

    Gecaches are available through the following websites:

    http://www.geocaching.com
    http://www.navicache.com
    http://www.terracaching.com

    The largest website by far is http://www.geocaching.com with 861,388 active geocaches around the world. In the last 7 days, there have been 793,526 new logs written by 95,805 account holders.

    As to hunting for geocaches without a GPSr, it can be done but is a little harder than geocaching with one. We actually geocached for three months without a GPSr and found around fifty geocaches. Most were urban (city) hides that we found by zooming in on the maps as far as we could and then using the description in the cache page and the hints provided when needed.

    If you have any general questions about geocaching please feel free to ask here in this thread or send me an email via the geocaching website. Type in my profile name and then click on send a message.

    Happy Caching!

    lpyankeefan

  19. 09887 says:

    WHERE ARE THE COORDINATES FOR THE BSA HUNT !!!!!!!

  20. Luke says:

    I would LOVE to do that!!!

  21. super says:

    I LOVE BOYS LIFE

  22. Mr. Know it all says:

    Go to your council and get the coordinates from them, If you don’t have a Global Positioning Unit (GPS) then ask to borrow one from a good friend, or look it up on Google Earth.

  23. helpful hint says:

    it is sooooo fun you just go onto a geocache website and find the coordinates close to whre you live or where you are going on a trip! its really easy and really fun

  24. you guys are idiots says:

    on the main geocaching website i geocache all the time

  25. Confused??? says:

    Where are the coordinates?

  26. dude without a gps says:

    Where are the coordinates released?

  27. No gps man says says:

    where do you get the coordinates????????????????? AAAUUUGGGHHHHHH

  28. Reyco says:

    Geocaching is fun and you don’t really need a GPS. It makes it easier to use a GPS but instead you can use relative location to find the caches.

  29. Red211 says:

    geocacheing is so fun, ive found all sorts of caches from rocks shaped as abraham lincoln to a magazine

  30. wingmanbonanza says:

    I dont have a gps is there a way to do it with out one

  31. J Boy says:

    I’ve heard about geocashing in a fiction book, so
    i didn’t know it was real, i want to try

  32. the cool dude says:

    i’ve been geocaching for a long time andi’ve found lots of caches

  33. Jman says:

    I want to go geocaching but I don’t have a GPS. :(

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