Everyone loves a treasure hunt, and with today’s technology, it has become easier and is an activity the whole family can enjoy. This article by Anita Benedict, discusses the easy way to get started with geocaching. There are over 5 million individuals who are geocaching and over 2 million geocaches around the world. Geocaching is a high-tech modern day treasure hunt that may not lead to huge chests of pirate booty, but gets people outside, active and for many, an opportunity to meet new friends and create memories. The “caches” are hidden in the most obvious places at times, while others require a bit of hiking and none require digging, but you will need a sharp eye and have to dig through a bit of underbrush. Corrine Giles, a friend of the author, helps out as part of her job with the Municipality’s Recreation and Culture Department who also have put on introduction to geo-caching events.
They met at the Caboose in South Maitland and Anita asked for the ‘Geocaching for Dummies’ version of how to get started. What seemed to be such a simple activity has many layers depending on how dedicated you are. To get started, the first step would be to visit geocaching.com and do a little bit of research on what it is, then decide what gear you want to purchase. A hand held global positioning system device (GPS) or a smart phone with a free geocaching app are a must. The biggest downfall of using the smart phone is the short battery life, but many have purchased an extra battery pack.
The other problem can be lack of service in some areas, but you can save the information into your phone. To find the coordinates of the caches, you will need to visit the geocaching.com to sign up and there is no fee to join, but the author discovered that people will have to pay more on a platinum membership. When you enter your postal code, it will pinpoint where you are and show you a map of what geocaches are near you. People will be told what level of difficulty it is and whether you need special gear or not. According to Benedict, you will need a ‘regular cache’ container that contains small treasures such as toys or pins, a log book to record your name, and a writing
If you take something, you must put something back of equal of lesser value, but it can’t be a food item or something that smells to protect from animals and put it back where you found it for the next person. On the website, you can share whether you found the cache, what condition it is in, or what you may have experienced along the trail. According to Benedict, there are ‘micro’ and ‘nano’ caches that are smaller and may be found on road signs, guard rails, in trees or even behind a bird house in a park. An ‘earth cache’ is educational; you learn something about the area you are in by answering questions, or in my experience, asking the locals to help you. You then have to take a picture of yourself at the location and send it in to claim credit for finding.
Benedict and her friend found some caches and ended having alot of fun! She stated, “The next cache was one Giles had yet to find. Once the coordinates were entered, she handed me the device and it was surprisingly easy to follow the GPS that counted down the time and distance to the next spot. An arrow pointed off the trail and we followed the clue of “split tree” to discover the cache. This was another regular cache but was in a locking lid container and covered in camouflage tape to hide it well.” Benedict also stated, “It was a beautiful day for a walk and it all too quickly came to an end for me.”