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Factsheet on Geocaching - Fun, Adventure, and Environmental Education

written by: •edited by: Michele McDonough•updated: 5/31/2011

Geocaching is a recreational activity that has developed into more than an adventure sport with millions of geocachers across the planet. This article offers some insight into the "High Tech Treasure Hunting Game."

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    Geocaching – An Introduction to the High Tech Game

    FactSheet on Geocaching Geocaching is very easy to play. The game has two main aspects. The first one is applicable to people who create geocaches. Once the players create and hide a geocache, they upload the information about the geocache to geocaching websites such as geocaching.com. The second aspect is related to people who wish to go hunting for the geocache. They log in to any geocaching website and select a geocache that interests them. They have to note down the information on the selected geocache so that they can go out and find the geocache (also called "treasure hunt" in geocaching slang).

    There are several geocaching websites on the Internet. The biggest geocaching website is geocaching.com that has millions of users from all over the planet. The exact number of geocaches present on the website is not known. According to Jeremy Irish, owner of geocaching.com, the geocaching database contains several million geocaches. He also says that they pull out a fresh geocache from the database every few minutes and display it on the website. These statements indicate the popularity of the website, the popularity of geocaching, and finally, the number of geocaching addicts on the planet.

    The following sections brief some facts about the "highly addictive" game of geocaching that became even more popular with the easy availability of handheld GPS devices for geocaching.

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    A Factsheet on Geocaching

    The activity of geocaching requires some items (or objects), including the GPS for geocaching. Some of these items and other facts (basic rules) are discussed in the following paragraphs.

     

    Containers

    Geocaches are simple containers of any size. They may be small cans or big metal boxes. The person who created the geocache places some items inside the container. These items can be anything from simple toys to expensive jewels. In addition, each geocache should include a pen and paper to allow the player (who finds the cache) to leave a note for other players.

     

    Hiding Geocaches

    Geocaches can be placed anywhere. The geocacher who creates the geocache may hide it among rocks, on a branch of some tree, or anywhere. Based on how the geocache is hidden, the geocacher has to update the difficulty level for finding the geocache on the website where the cache is listed. It is not recommended to hide geocaches under the earth's surface as the GPS devices will not be able to help in tracing them. Also, if the geocache is buried under earth's surface, the player will need tools to unearth it. Most geocaching websites do not allow geocaches to be placed under the surface of earth.

     

    GPS Handheld for Geocaching

    GPS (Global Positioning System) is used to determine the location of the geocacher while she/he is trying to locate a geocache. The coordinates on the GPS help in determining his/her position by calculating the latitude, longitude, and elevation of the geocache. It also helps the player in navigation while she/he is in pursuit of the geocache.

     

    Geocaches Need to be Protected

    Geocaches need ample protection against natural forces such as rain, animals, and any other factor that might destroy it. Geocaches are protected using some weather proof containers so that they can stay as such for a long time. Also, as a measure for protection, the geocaches are normally hidden in hard boxes to prevent animals from damaging it. The protection method depends on the geocacher who creates the cache.

     

    Geocaches are Meant to be Located

    Several million geocaches are spread all over the planet. Each geocache is listed on geocaching websites, blogs, or newsgroups. As the geocaches are meant to be located, the geocacher who created the geocache should list his/her geocache with ample information that helps others find it. A geocache listing with incomplete description or misleading information is against the ethics of the game.

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    Playing the Game – Geocaching Factsheet

    People interested in playing the game need to register with a geocaching website. Once they register successfully, they can select a geocache that interests them. To find the geocache, the person needs to make a note of all the information given to locate the geocache. This information also includes the terrain, difficulty level, and information on items you may need in addition to your handheld GPS for geocaching. Depending on the rules of the website, the user may have to make an entry about his/her attempt to locate the geocache. Normally, this step helps the website in determining the popularity of the geocache.

    After noting down the information, the geocacher goes out to find the geocache. Once the geocache is found, the geocacher leaves a note in the geocache. She/he may also pick up any item from the geocache and put in something else. Finally, the geocacher should again log in to the geocaching website and make an entry corresponding to the geocache. Many websites also offer the provision of having a text field where the geocacher can share his/her experience with others who want to go for the geocache. However, the description of experience should not give out all the details that render the geocache useless. Normally, the description of experience is moderated prior to publishing so as to remove any clues that may spoil the geocaching experience for that particular geocache.

    Note: If you are a new to the game, you are strongly recommended NOT to go for geocaches that are located too far from your place. Start from geocaches that lie near your house and increase the distance gradually, as you gain experience.

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    Geocaching Fact Sheet – Precautions to Take

    Geocaching has developed into a highly addictive game that combines several adventure sports as well (an example can be hiking if the geocache is located on a mountainous terrain). As a precaution, the geocachers should keep emergency phone numbers in case they are stuck anywhere while hunting for the geocache.

    The geocache should not contain any food items that degrade and invite fungus or worse still, bacteria or virus. Items such matches, lighters, fireworks or explosives are a big NO for geocaches.

    Geocaches should be kept in places that are safe for retrieval. They should not be kept at places that may cause injuries to geocachers. Examples of such places are slippery terrain and places that are home to snakes or dangerous animals.

    Summary: Geocaching is a highly addictive game that can be combined with outdoor activities such as camping, trailing, and hiking to make it more interesting. The human nature of exploring the unknown is the basic concept of geocaching. With easy availability of GPS handheld for geocaching, the game gained even more popular. At any given point of time, there are several geocachers who are trying to uncover different geocaches. To make the most of geocaching, players need to know the basics and facts of the game. This geocaching fact sheet described the different objects and terms used in game while also offering inputs on playing the game, ethics of geocaching, and precautions to take while playing the game of geocaching.

Basics of Geocaching

This article series aims to present you with the basics of Geocaching. These basics of Geocaching include a small introduction as to what is the GPS game and its variations, geocaching backgounds, geocaching factsheet and more.
  1. A Look at Geocaching Background
  2. Top Websites: Best GPS Treasure Hunt Geocaches
  3. Factsheet on Geocaching - Fun, Adventure, and Environmental Education
  4. Understanding Difficulty and Terrain for Geocaching