You may have noticed that this is something we do quite regularly. Heard of it before? No idea what I’m talking about? You must be a muggle…
Here’s what you need to know…
According to Geocaching.com it’s a ‘real-world, outdoor treasure hunting game using GPS-enabled devices. Participants navigate to a specific set of GPS coordinates and then attempt to find the geocache (container) hidden at that location.’
In other words I use my iphone to find Tupperware in the woods! Yep, really!
It’s been on my radar for quite some time but as with these things just never got round to trying it, all it took was a particularly tedious half term holiday with the kids climbing the walls and that was all the inspiration I needed to learn more, and fast!
I literally had no idea what to do, what websites to use, apps to download, did I need equipment? All I did know was that we needed to get outside!
Turns out all you need to worry about is registering for a free account on Geocaching.com, you don’t need to pay out for anything until you are sure you like it. If you have a GPS enabled smart phone the easiest thing to do is download a free taster app. This gives you access to enough local geocaches to see if you like it or not and is also simple to use. Don’t have the relevant phone and want to try it then you can head to several national trust properties and borrow a GPS handset and find some onsite geocaches. A word of warning these caches tend to be a little uninspiring due to the fact they get trashed fairly quickly by people who are learning the ropes.
Should you be bitten by the bug and want to do more you can upgrade to the paid for app about £6 ish if I remember correctly, which gives you access to a lot more geocaches. Some Geocaches are premium listed which can only be accessed by becoming a premium member. The fee isn’t huge and you do get other benefits, but this really isn’t necessary. Many people don’t take this option as there are plenty of free access geocaches to find. Another option you may wish to explore is to invest in a specialist GPS handset, these really are an investment though and not something I’ve felt the need to explore yet.
Most kids these days are born smart phone savvy and they soon pick up how to use the compass on the screen, my children love to navigate us in the right direction, counting down the metres to ground zero (where the cache is hidden).
So what is a geocache? They literally come in all shapes and sizes. Teeny tiny magnetic tubes, disguised as insects or pine cones or even whacking great big treasure chests full of surprises.
Generally you are given a description of what you are looking for, other times you don’t even know what size it’s going to be. Smaller caches have just a log book, you sign this with the date and your username. You then replace the log book and rehide the cache.
Larger caches generally hold swaps. If you geocache with children you will want a small supply of swaps to trade. Geocaching etiquette means you must trade for something with the same value, or leave something of a higher value. In other words don’t take a brand new toy car and leave a feather in its place. Yes that does happen! I tend to keep duplicates of toys the children have or buy party favours for fun swaps. We’ve had some pretty cool swaps from caches, you also wouldn’t believe the pieces of tat children find appealing to take home…. If you find a toy or item attached to a dog tag or similar with a code, this is not for keeps, it’s a trackable. Your choices are either take it, log it and move it to another cache, or until you are used to proceedings leave it for the time being. Once you have cunningly rehidden the cache, you are officially no longer a muggle! Woo!
Geocaches are hidden literally everywhere, you honestly wouldn’t believe how many you walk past unknowingly. I prefer remote caches in the countryside where you can search to your hearts content, others prefer urban caching where extreme stealth or preferably harry potter’s invisibility cape are required. Sometimes you will be given a hint of where to look, sometimes you arrive at ground zero and you spot a fairly likely place it’s hidden. Other times your phone tells you that you are 5m metres away, and that seems really quite impossible and you just have to sniff it out – the sense of achievement is always so much greater with these ones!
When home you now need to log your find or your DNF (did not find – dammit!) on Geocaching.com, this will track your progress for you.
There is more I could tell you but I’m trying to keep it simple for now, had I have known the basics before we started it would have been useful.
We love geocaching as it gets us outside, we have discovered amazing local places which we would never have known about had it not been for discovering a geocache there. Once you’ve paid for the app or membership it’s free. Last weekend after having the summer off work and a mahoosive car repair bill we needed something free to do, we packed a picnic and headed off to the forest to complete a trail of caches. We had a fab day, didn’t spend a penny and the children all came home with new toys they had traded. Can’t ask for more than that!
You can read more about some of our caching adventures in earlier blogs, I would be ecstatic if we inspired somebody to give it a go.
I’m still a relative newby to caching, 3 months and 195 finds so far, I may have missed something important or made an error – fellow cachers do please feel free to comment. 🙂
Oh and one more thing, watch out for the mud and nettles! 😉