If you’ve never heard of Geocaching, you’re not alone. And that’s okay. It’s a fairly recently development, coming about not too long after the advent of reasonably affordable handheld GPS devices. And reasonably affordable gets more so every year, depending on the bells and whistles you want. Of course, these days you can go out with a smart phone. As long as you have data access, you have a working GPS device, and there are apps for every platform.
But I’m getting a little ahead of myself. I haven’t actually told you what Geocaching is it. And while it would probably be easier just to steal some copy from the Groundspeak website, where’s the fun in that?
To my mind, Geocaching is a real life treasure hunt. It’s about finding things no one else knows are there, a secret shared with only a few. And all you need are a set of coordinates, and something to write with. The coordinates will be fairly precise latitude and longitude. And in its simplest form, that’s all you need to get to a cache. Well, that and a GPS capable device to direct you there.
That’s it. Well, aside from a willingness to go play outside.
Groundspeed refers to the search for a cache as hide and seek or a real world adventure game. For us, and by us I mean myself and my 11-year-old daughter, team NinjaRock, it’s certainly about the thrill of the hunt, and sometimes that includes figuring out a puzzle or doing a little research, but more importantly, it’s about finding something that most people don’t even know is there.
And it really is that simple.
Bring back the joy of hide and seek as a child, or a secret treasure hunt. The joy of the hunt, the discovery the secret. Both of these things can speak to anyone on a very fundamental level. And your smart phone has GPS. Of course, you have to be willing to actually leave the house and venture into the great outdoors, and that’s something our modern society appears to be slowly losing. We like the fact that there is an outside, and all those plants and things in there making oxygen and soil and a livable world for us, but we really don’t want to go out and experience it directly. Far better to watch it on TV, where you don’t have to do more than look at it. No other senses required, no other activity, just sit in your comfortable chair and watch the screen.
But you miss so much doing that.
Geocaching is not an expensive. Oh, like everything else, you can spend a tonne of money, but you don’t need to. Geocaching.com will get you started, so you need an Internet connection, a GPS device, and a pair of shoes. I recommend some sunscreen and insect repellent.
But even more, I recommend that if you have children try taking at least one of them with you. Some caches have things in them to trade and kids love to find stuff, and they love to hang out with their parents, at least until they become teenagers. And if you get them when they’re young, they might even enjoy it once in a while as teenagers.
I’ve made the recommendation before but you should play with your kids. Consider Geocaching a game. A game of hide and seek, a game of treasure hunt, a game of exploration. Go out and find something you didn’t know was there.
Oh, and on a personal geocaching note: today is the second anniversary of the first time we went caching. We’re going out for a little caching adventure to celebrate. You can find us on geocaching.com as NinjaRock. We’re not piling up the finds really quickly, at a mere 253, but we’ve hidden two of our own caches as well.