The Secret World of Geocaching
By Megan Garrison
So it’s summer. A time when kids get out of school, parents take off time from work and everyone else tries to find a moment of relaxation. For a lot of us, summer is just the time of year that the whole country gets unbearably warm and more skin is showing nationwide; which only reminds you that you shouldn’t have put off that diet and tan. But for all its unique qualities, no matter what type of summertime person you are, this time of year demands everyone to go outside, to enjoy the warm caress of the sun, the gentle feel of the water and the sand squishing between your toes. Whether you work all summer or not, have kids or not, this time of year is spent with family and is all about getting away from the daily grind.
Maybe you don’t have the money for a flight to California or a road trip to Florida, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t have a summer adventure. The best way to save money, entertain your children, have a blast and enjoy the weather is this little activity called Geocaching. All you need is a map or a GPS device (also, make sure to wear a good pair of shoes) and you are on an international treasure hunt in your very own neighborhood and city.
Geocaching emerged with the rise of the GPS device. It was a way to incorporate the use of technology with good old fashioned treasure hunting. What started as an old variety of the game called Letterboxing was evolved into Geocaching in the 21st Century by a man named Dave Ulmer. The sport of Geocaching turned into a nationwide event and is now even international. Personally, I am waiting for it to be an Olympic sport.
It’s really easy to get involved. You don’t need permission, you don’t need a license and you don’t need to pay anything. All you have to do is read the clues provided online and find the treasure but don’t forget to leave your mark behind so that future geocachers will be sure to see your name along with the other treasure hunters.
Before you grab a map and wander around Dayton aimlessly, there are a few things you need to know:
Types of Geocaches:
There are 14 different variations of the geocache. Each one of those variations has at least one or more sub-variation. Now, I could explain them all in detail but most likely if you’re just picking this up as a summertime hobby you won’t get involved with all the caches, and if you’re a veteran/experienced geocacher then you already know all the variations. So in light of this I am going to break the categories of caches into three sections.
1. Traditional/Basic: This type of geocache must include a log book of some sort. A traditional cache is distinguished from other cache variations in that the geocache is found at the coordinates given and involves only one stage.
2. Multi-Cache: This variation consists of multiple discoveries of one or more intermediate points containing the coordinates for the next stage; the final stage contains the log book and trade items.
3. Mystery/Puzzle: This cache requires one to discover information or solve a puzzle to find the cache. Some mystery caches provide a false set of coordinates with a puzzle that must be solved to determine the final cache location. In other cases, the given location is accurate but the name of the location or other features are a puzzle leading to the final cache.
Rules of Geocaching:
There are only three rules in the Geocaching world:
1. If you take something from the geocache, leave something of equal or greater value.
2. Write about your find in the cache logbook.
3. Log your experience at www.geocaching.com.
For m, and my friends, however, we never really log the experience online. That rule is more of an optional task that you can choose to do if you really want to join the community of worldwide geocachers.
Supplies for Geocaching:
This list varies from geocacher to geocacher. For this particular list I’ll be adding the supplies I usually take with me when I head out with my friends.
1. GPS device or map
2. Printed list of the geocaches coordinates and riddles from online
4. Good shoes
5. Pens and paper
6. Coins/buttons/little keepsake items
It looks like you have everything you need, a group of people to go with and the knowledge behind this fun activity. Yet, you’re not sure where to start. Well don’t start to fret just yet, because I know some great places and people that would love to help you out.
The Five Rivers MetroParks is a great place to research. Not only does this organization have numerous caches located throughout all their venues but they even host geocaching events for other geocachers to get together and have tons of fun. I recommend getting involved in their many treasure hunting events for the young and adventurous at heart.
Well, what are you waiting for? Get out there and find your treasure!
For more information go to www.geocaching.com and visit www.metroparks.org/GetOutside/Geocaching.aspx to find local geocaching events near you.
Reach DCP intern and freelance writer Megan Garrison at MeganGarrison@daytoncitypaper.com