Geocaching: Modern Day Global Treasure Hunt
There is a not so new game in town and it includes being outside. Ever wonder why you might see a stranger in your neighborhood snooping around as if he or she are looking for something? It could very well be a person playing a modern day scavenger hunt called geocache. Geocache is a verb meaning to track down items as part of a game using a Global Positioning Device, GPS. This game started in 2000, when the government decided to release GPS satellite streams for private and commercial use. This global game of hide and seek is growing in popularity so much that the Official Scrabble Players Dictionary has voted “geocache” as the new word for 2014.
There are over six million active members worldwide that participate with either GPS tracking devices or smart cell phones, and over 2,375,208 active geocaches. Caches are hidden and the coordinates are posted on the internet for others to follow and find the treasures. They can contain small trivial trinkets, log in documents and sometimes clues for the next cache nearby. This is a very sophisticated game and the rules are simple. Take something and leave something of the same value. An active participant also has the option to sign a log located within the cache, as well as document the find online. There are several versions of the downloadable application. Visit the Geocaching.com website to decide which app is best suited for you.
There are rules to every game and with this game there are no exceptions. Active members have also adopted a “cache in, trash out” mantra. These avid outdoor gamers are often found with trash bags being dragged behind them. According to the gaming website, geocachers are often conducting activities in their own communities promoting a cleaner and safer environment for everyone to enjoy. The caches themselves are rated on a one through five difficulty scale. Chances are, the more difficult the rank the harder you will have to seek for the cache. This is a great way for ambitious outdoor enthusiasts to participate in a digital treasure hunt for an adventure that exists every time you take a walk.
Jim and Nicole Ryan of Littleton Colorado have been geocaching with their two boys, ages 9 and 12 for several years. Both parents agree that the game has peaked the boy’s interest to be outside more often and not in front of a video game.
Nicole decided to take this weekend game to a different level. She created a family vacation for the four of them to travel to Washington State and add to their geocoins for family prizes. The family went to six different state parks within two weeks. “We started geocaching when our son came home and told us of his friend who geocaches with his family every chance they get,” said Nicole. “We started on our very own block, there were two of them. Then we would keep our phones on to track caches on the way to the grocery store.”
“Jim wanted to start backpacking day trips in our area, so we went to Chatfield State Park not too far from our house. The boy’s loved it and couldn’t wait to go on the weekends,” said Nicole. “We had a difficult time trying to find one particular cache called the “pink flamingo,” it took us three weekends to find it. When we finally did, that inspired the boy’s to hide their own in the park.”
Depending on where you want to hide a cache, there might be some extra rules that need to be followed. According to Kris Wahlers of Chatfield state park, there are reasons for the rules. Wahlers said, “Due to the wide variety of people participating in geocaching, visitor safety and park preservation are the two main factors for producing the rules. Weapons, alcohol and drugs are the parks major concerns for safety; anyone can send GPS coordinates to find a dangerous cache located within our park.” Wahlers contends that if gamers follow the rules of the park, geocaching could be fun for everyone, including park staff.
At Chatfield State Park geocaching is allowed with restrictions and rules. There is a strict approval process for placing a cache in the State Park.
- Fill out a Special Activities Agreement at no charge, with documentation of each cache to be placed.
- Caches are randomly inspected by park staff to ensure safety and compliance. Absolutely no harmful or illegal substances are to be cached. No guns, knives, explosives, drugs or pornography are to be used when placing a cache.
- Exact locations of the caches are to be provided with links to park management. Size and shape of container also need to be documented.
- No digging to bury or manipulation of land will be permitted to hide any cache. The owner of the cache must inspect the surrounding area from time to time, to make sure no damage or manmade erosion is taking place. If there is any such damage, the cache must be moved or removed with park notification.
- There are off limit areas for geocachers, such as dam structures, campgrounds, and group picnic areas. See your park for rules and regulations.
This game of outdoor activity is inviting people of all ages to participate in something as a community on a large global scale. The great thing about it is, it encourages people to be outdoors and off of the couch. It brings families closer together looking for treasure that someone else has hidden. Geocachers will tread lightly when it comes to land preservation and the hiding of caches. Wahlers has geocached within the park and has left two caches herself. She believes, “that illegal activity will always find a way to infiltrate something good. It is up to us to present the dangers as adults and proceed with caution with everything that we do. With any outdoor activity there is always a degree of caution; play Geocache safely and responsibly.”
Signing up for the free version is a great way to start to see if you are interested. It is amazing to see what could actually be hidden right out front of your door. There is a secret society of outdoor people leaving hidden treasures with clues for you to find. Geocache is a great new winning game for the outdoors, as well as a new winning word for Scrabble.
More information for your next outdoor adventure can be found at:
And for those of you wishing to submit an article about your new Geocache adventure visit: www.ftfgeocacher.com
Thanks for reading!