Back in 2007 a colleague introduced me to geocaching and I remember my feeling of intrigue and slight confusion. Fast forward 8 years and when I mention geocaching in training courses I’d estimate that 70% of delegates are unaware of it’s existence and therefore as excited by it as I was upon my first discovery.
In case you’re one of that 70% I’ll endeavour to explain a little about geocaching.
It is a sort of global treasure hunt using GPS (Global Positioning Systems) to find ‘geocaches’. All over the world people like me hide geocaches for other people to find. You can find out where the geocaches are hidden by logging on to www.geoaching.com Whenever we head away on holiday or out for the day we’ll punch the postcode of our destination into the geocaching website and download any nearby geocache coordinates. In concert with a map we’ll use the geocache locations to plan some nice local walks.
In 2007 having a GPS unit was a necessary part of the geocaching process but now you can download effective apps to your smart phone. Either way you just input the coordinates you have found on the website into the unit or app and it will navigate you to the destination, within around 3 metres accuracy. You can then put down the technology and search! The website will have told you roughly what you are looking for. Traditional caches are Tupperware box size. Micro-caches are the size of a film canister and nano-caches are the size of a sugar lump. You can choose to decipher additional clues from the website if you wish. When you have found the cache you can often sign a log book to prove you found it and can go on to log your find online to keep a record of your finds and also inform the cache owner that you visited their cache. You can even take photos of yourself and upload those too. In the bigger caches there are often ‘swaps’ which are small low-value items that you can take away with you, to be replaced by something of equal value. We have a bag of mini spinning tops, stickers, gel pens, plastic snakes and bracelets that we take with us in case Primrose fancies taking anything from one of the boxes.
An additional aspect that we love are things called Travel Bugs. These are often small creatures (cuddly or plastic ones!) that have a dog tag attached with a special code. These travel bugs have a mission and get moved from cache to cache by geocachers. We released a dolphin travel bug in 2008 and it has been flying (literally in some cases) around the world ever since; she’s currently residing in Finland. When people find a cache and discover a travel bug they can look up the the special code online to find out what the bug’s mission is. If geocachers think they can help the bug on it’s mission they will take it and move it on to a new cache. Anyone can release a travel bug and chart it’s progress. We’re going to release one for our daughter’s 3rd birthday in March. I’d like it to be a native species such as a mouse or a fox….it’ll probably end up being Elsa J
So why not make 2016 your own year of geocaching, punch your own postcode into www.geocaching.com and see where your nearest cache is.
Next time I write a blog I’ll focus on some ideas for using caching in schools. SO MUCH potential!