What is This Thing Called Geocaching?

Geocaching (“jee-o-cash-ing”) is a fun, family sport that we have enjoyed for a few years now.  My parents introduced us to it a few years ago and we instantly became hooked! If you like breaking codes, deciphering clues, and looking for buried treasure, this sport is for you!

Think of it as a modern-day treasure hunt – You are provided with coordinates and clues and then it is up to you to go “hunting”.

So how does it really work?

GPS coordinates lead you to a location where a treasure, otherwise known as “cache”, is hidden.  Many caches come with fun clues that help you along the way.  Once found, you log your visit into the provided logbook.  Many caches have trinkets to trade – think unusual coins, fast food toys, pencils, etc. My kids LOVE to trade their junk for junk!  This is their “treasure” they seek!

Just a few items are needed to successfully geocache.  A handheld GPS device (we used a Garmin), a book to take notes or write the clues down, a few trinkets to trade, and a great deal of patience are all you need for a successful day.

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There are many different available makes and models of Geocaching GPS devices to use.  You can also use your Smart Phone, as there is a great app for Geocaching available from Groundspeak.

Once you have a device to get started, log into www.geocaching.com.  There you can create an account and discover caches available to find in your area.  We often look up caches when we are on vacation too.  They are everywhere.

When planning to go on a hunt, either download the cache into your GPS device, or enter in the GPS coordinates.  Make sure to write down the clues to help you find the caches.  The GPS will get you to the spot where the cache is hidden, but it is up to you to use the clues to find it.  Caches are often very cleverly placed – it could be hidden under a rock, inside a tree, or even in an unusual structure.  So keep your eyes open, you never know where it will be hidden!  But honestly, that’s the fun…..the thrill of the hunt!

When you find the cache, sign the logbook.  If you take something from the cache (trinkets time!), leave something of equal or greater value in it’s place, so that there is something there for the next geocachers to find.  When you are done, remember to hide the cache exactly as you found it.

Once you have returned home, log back into Geocaching.com to log your find and share your experiences with the community.  This helps others find the caches and tells the one who hid the cache it’s still out there.

This is a fun activity that the kids and I really enjoy doing – it is a great way to get outdoors and explore places you have never seen, even in your neighborhood!

With over a million geocaches hidden world-wide, there are geocaches for every type of adventurer to find!

Join us tomorrow as we discuss some helpful pointers and things to know before you go geocaching. And then on Wednesday, we will take you with us on a cache we found this weekend!!

Rebecca, a local contributor, spends most of her time hunting down family fun around the Austin area for R We There Yet Mom?  Currently, she is running a Texas Travels Spring Break Series to help you plan all sorts of fun for the upcoming break.  Follow her traveling-momma-isms (totally a word) on R We There Yet Mom?’s Facebook Page and Twitter.

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