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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.


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.”


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.


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

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

For Younger Readers

For Older Readers

10 Comments on Geocaching takes you on a modern-day treasure hunt

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

  2. Orienteering Merit Badge 1234 // August 1, 2009 at 2:33 pm // Reply

    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.

  3. lpyankeefan // July 31, 2009 at 3:13 pm // Reply

    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!


  4. lpyankeefan // July 31, 2009 at 3:02 pm // Reply

    Gecaches are available through the following websites:

    The largest website by far is 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!



  6. I would LOVE to do that!!!


  8. Mr. Know it all // July 30, 2009 at 12:05 pm // Reply

    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.

  9. helpful hint // July 30, 2009 at 9:34 am // Reply

    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

  10. you guys are idiots // July 29, 2009 at 7:16 pm // Reply

    on the main geocaching website i geocache all the time

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