Sunday, August 22, 2010

Geocaching

Ok, this isn't a local website or place, perse. But it is a fantastic way to explore your local environment, and get your kids involved. It is called geocaching!

DH and I have been geocaching for years, slowing down a little once pregnancy and newborn arrived. But we really enjoy it and have gotten our friends and family hooked. We can't wait to get C started since it is even better with children. Kids love this.

So what is it?
Geocaching is a worldwide treasure hunt.

People all over the globe create caches. A traditional cache is a tin or tupperware container that has little prizes and trinkets in it as well as a log book. The cache is then hidden. The person who hides the cache records the coordinates and logs them on the website www.geocaching.com.

You then grab the coordinates from the website, plug them into your GPS, and go searching for the "cache." Once you find it if it is a traditional cache you open it up, take a trinket, leave a trinket, sign the log book, and (if you want) log it on your online account at www.geocaching.com.

In addition to traditional caches, however, there are also microcaches (small ones that have a logbook only), virtual caches (it gives you something to see), multiple caches (you get clues at the first stop that help you get the next coordinates for the next find), and even webcam caches (where we were on an Internet camera for a local news station and called our parents to look at us). Geocaching's website will tell you before you hunt what type of cache it is.

A word from the geocaching-wise: it is important to read the notes and reviews left by other users. Sometimes caches disappear (pesky animals) or become waterlogged (pesky rain). So know before you go if it has been recently found. Since caches can be hidden by anyone (you could even do it, too!), people will sometimes pick places that are not so picturesque. But, again, this is noted in the reviews.

And take the notes with you as there are hints available if you are having a hard time finding the cache.

If you haven't heard of geocaching before you will be surprised to find out that these caches are all over the place. For example, in Anderson Community Park there are at least 2 geocaches. There are over a dozen off the Bolin Creek Trails. Geocaching can sometimes take you to places in the area you never knew existed, or just never made it to.

You can also geocache while on vacation. All you need to do is head to www.geocaching.com to find coordinates of caches where you are. And, again, this is a worldwide game. In Australia? No problem, you can geocache there.

What you need to play?
Some sort of GPS device, the kind that you plug coordinates into. Because this game has become so popular with kids of all ages (it's a treasure hunt, afterall), outdoor outfitters have started to make kids GPS devices such as the Geomate Jr (available at Target). But nowadays some phones even have applications and gadgets on them to make geocaching feasible.

Don't forget to take trinkets and toys and create a family caching name for your group. You are going to want to sign those logbooks and that website when you feel the success of finding a cache in the woods!

Have fun, and remember to keep the cache hidden from the muggles and say TFTH.

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