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Geocaching for Beginners

Geocache box with signage among dried leaves

By now you may have heard people talking about an activity called “geocaching.” People all over are taking part, so if you have heard of it or are thinking of participating, this article will help you understand what this is all about.

What is it?

Geocaching is a fun, free, and environmentally friendly worldwide treasure hunt. It’s has challenge levels great for beginners and pros alike. It started in 2000 and has since grown into a national activity with over 2 million caches placed.

 The easiest way to get started is to make an account on the geocaching app on your smartphone. Once downloaded and signed up, you will be able to see a map on either your computer or your mobile app. The map displays caches around the country, and you can search by location or cache name. Once you pick the one you want to search out, a map location and compass will be displayed, as well as the description, difficulty and hints for finding the cache. Most caches can be found using the compass, some have clues at the location that you can follow to the cache, and some have puzzles that you can solve to get the coordinates.

Geocaches vary in size and quality, but a common thread is a plastic container, usually marked with an official Geocaching stamp. Inside there will be a small notepad, a sort of guest book where you can leave your username and the date that you found the cache, after which you log it on your account.

What else will I find inside?

People leave various trinkets, swag, and souvenirs inside (like figurines, toys, stones, etc.) This is one of the main things that makes Geocaching fun. The proper etiquette is to leave something when you take something, so bring a little object along in case you find something you want to swap.

The description says “there may be a trackable in the cache”. What’s that?

These are little game tokens, in the form of Travel Bugs or Geocoins. Each has a unique tracking code. Players that move them from cache to cache are responsible for logging the movement so that others can see how it moves around. These tokens are available on the Geocaching website. (Hyperlink http://shop.geocaching.com/default/trackable-items)

So, how do I get started?

You can enjoy the Geocaching experience without dropping any of the big bucks. There is a free official app that allows access to traditional caches, tips, hints, and a Live Search function, which continuously updated information about caches near you. If you enjoy using the intro app and travel by foot or bike, you can geocache to your heart’s content at no cost. 

There is a premium membership that opens up more types of treasure hunts, like Mystery caches and Multi caches. It also lets you filter the caches you search for by terrain and difficulty.

 I also suggest bringing a pencil or pen ad a notebook to work out clues. If you’d like to expand your hunt you can connect with others in communities built for geocachers on Reddit, Facebook, and Instagram.

Overall, the geocaching experience brings you closer to nature, since the caches are all outdoors. Its a good way to get the kids out from in front of a screen, and it’s also cool to see the result and know that you are part of something bigger than yourself.

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