Geocaching: A Global Treasure Hunt
Many of you reading this may have heard of Geocaching.
No? Not even a mention? A snippet? Really?
If this really is the case for you, then fear not, as this article will tell you (nearly) everything you need to know about Geocaching. Now, before we start, I need to check a few things:
Do you have...
A good amount of patience?
An enduring nature?
A lust for adventure?
One of those newfangled smart phones?
A large amount of biscuits? (Not essential!)
Yes? Good! Then, lets start!
What on earth is it?
Geocaching is a global treasure hunt. Remember those little treasure hunts Mum or Dad used to set up in the Garden, or around the block? You know, the ones where the reward was a biscuit or even 'the feeling of being outside'? Well, imagine that on a global scale (minus the hug and the soppy congratulations for getting off the computer). That's Geocaching. Caches come in all shapes and sizes (well, almost all). Right from as small as a metal bolt to a container the size of a car battery. They can be hung in trees, or locked in safes. Some are hidden in walls, whilst others are disguised as other objects. In-fact, caches can be so random, so odd, so completely, fantastically weird, that you'd expect them to stick out like a sore thumb in a blizzard. Sorry to burst your bubble, but they don't.
That sounds great! When can I begin?
Now! Right Now! Though wandering through the woods at 1am trying to find that geocache might not turn out so great for you. Okay, let me rephrase that, start tomorrow, if you reading this at night, otherwise, start now! (If this section just confused you, don't worry, I wrote it and I'm confused too).
Easy! Just load up the world wide interweb, and type in the simple word, Geocaching. Click on the first link (as long as it doesn't look dodgy) and simply sign up!
Tip: Check with an adult before signing up, for your own safety!
Where can I find Geocaches?
Anywhere and everywhere. They are literally in every place you can think of (apart from the ISS, or the White House, or anywhere else you can't access without getting the NSA on you.)
Yes, yes, but what are the exact locations?
Come now, young padawan, that would be spoilers!
Can I hide a cache?
Of course you can! All you need is a logbook, a well (but not excessively) labelled waterproof container, and a good eye for deviously clever hiding places. When you place it, you will need exact coordinates to put into the website, so a Global Positioning System (or GPS) will be useful, but alternatively, Google maps can just do it for you. Once placed and registered, it will take around a week for your cache to be checked by a community volunteer and put online for all cachers to find, for generations to come!
Anything else I need to know?
Only a few things...
- Trackables are little coins, tokens or objects that can be purchased and placed in caches. If you are lucky enough to find a trackable, find the code on it, log that you've found it on the website, and then place it in the next cache you find, and say you've placed it there. Don't keep it as a souvenir, because that's no fun for anyone, and also, it makes you an annoying cacher.
- Muggles (no, cachers are not secretly wizards) are non-geocachers. Muggles have a reputation of destroying caches for their own cruel enjoyment, so if you find a cache, don't broadcast it to the whole world, just keep it quiet, sign the book and place it back where you found it.
- Swappables are little objects that are sometimes left in caches. You can take a swappable, as long as you leave something of equal or greater value in it's place. So please, don't take that lego minifigure you really want and leave a stick in it's place, unless of course it's a really rare and expensive stick, in which case that's fine.
The Geocaching app is available for all platforms (finally an app that cross platforms to windows!). On IOS, look under Iphone apps, if you're on an Ipad, and you will find it (It's the first one on the Iphone apps page.)
So, what are you waiting for? Stop reading this article and get out there! Nature is calling!
For any extra help, visit Geocaching.com for helpful guides and videos.
Previously in leisure:
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Image credit: Geocache by Solitude, via Wikimedia