As the snow begins to recede, and the days become longer and warmer, spring will make its presence known in the coming days and weeks. For many of us, spring is exciting because it brings an awaken of the hibernating earth and an opportunity to see all that is old become new again. It also represents the opportunity to try new activities as we once again familiarize ourselves with the outside world. Spring is a great time to hold outdoor team-bonding exercises after a long winter indoors and to reconnect with the forgotten beauty of nature. Are you looking for an activity that can satisfy both of those criteria, and one that adds a little fun and excitement to the mix? Then geocaching might be the activity for you!
“Geocaching” is a fairly recent and popular activity that has been around since 2000, when selective availability was removed from the Global Positioning System and made available to the public. Since the first geocache placed on May 3, 2000, over 15 million people participate in geocaching, with almost three million geocaches placed world-wide, on every continent. Yes, even Antarctica has geocaches.
For the traditional geocache, a geocacher will place a waterproof container containing a log book (with pen or pencil) and trade items then record the cache’s coordinates. These coordinates, along with other details of the location, are posted on a listing site such as Geocaching.com. Other geocachers obtain the coordinates from that listing site, and seek out the cache using GPS handheld receivers. The finding geocachers record their adventure in the logbook as well as online. However, they must then return the cache to the same coordinates so that other geocachers may find it. Geocachers are free to take objects (except the logbook and writing/signing utensils) from the cache in exchange for leaving something of similar or higher value.
While the average GPS receiver can be more expensive ($100-$200 for the average receiver), the reliability and reception from satellites used by the reception are very accurate. If you wish to try the activity before getting involved with higher-priced technology, you can download the geocaching app on any smart phone and use the GPS on your phone to locate the caches. This makes for a great introduction on how to use GPS devices and gives you a feel for how to play the activity.
The excitement of geocaching comes from the preparation and journey to the cache, along with the search itself. If you use it as a team activity, try the Puzzle Caches, which require you to solve a puzzle prior to getting the REAL coordinates of the cache. This, along with the planning and execution of locating the cache can be a great way to see how the team responds to the activity. Caches can be placed in rural settings like hiking trails and wooded areas, or in urban settings like walking paths and neighborhood, even cities as well. For many of the caches, you may not have an exact description of what the cache looks like or where it is located exactly, so your group better be ready to think outside the box and use their senses to ascertain where the cache could be located!
Has geocaching piqued your interest as a personal hobby or group exercise? Visit Geocaching.com for a more descriptive and in-depth look into this activity. If you decide to give it a shot, good luck, and happy caching!