What is geocaching?
What is geocaching, you ask?
It’s amazing fun that is alive and well in the Willamette Valley, that’s what it is! Geocaching uses small GPS units or cell phone apps to find hidden “caches” that people have hidden in your neighborhood or out in parks and on trails. Caches are containers of various sizes that are hidden and blend into their surroundings. The cache contains a logbook to sign, and sometimes even small, themed trinkets for trade.
How do we get started?
Your first step will be to sign up for a free account on the world-wide database found at www.geocaching.com. Log into the database to find a cache near you. Each cache lists the size of the cache, the difficulty in finding it, terrain and when it was last found.
A quick search located over 32 caches within a 2 mile radius of my house!
Right here in Salem. One of the caches is boy-scout themed and asks for trinkets that are traded to be of the boyscout variety. Fun!
What do we need to bring?
Getting your kiddo ready for a cache hunt can be as simple as preparing for a hike. Sturdy shoes, snacks and water are a given.
Having done your research in advance, you will know if your cache is a trade cache, and in such a case,it will contain small items, toys or trinkets. In geocaching, if you take something from the cache, you replace it with something of equal or greater value. So, have the kids pack an assortment of trinkets to leave.
You will also need a small handheld GPS reciever or a downloaded app such as c:geo for android. A quick search of your phone app store will yield various open source GPS apps specifically for geocaching. You can download one on www.geocaching.com Lastly- caches have logbooks, so don’t forget your pen!
Tips for finding the cache!
Most GPS recievers are accurate to about 20 feet. Once you near the cache, it’s time to start looking! Remind your children to exercise care and encourage them to be aware of their surroundings.
The geocache community follows the “Leave no Trace” principle and even practices a “Cache in, Trash out” mentality. Always respectfully leave the site better than you found it.
We found it! Now what?
Woo Hoo! Your first find! Here’s what you do. Open the cache, take something, leave something and write a note in the logbook! Now, carefully replace the cache exactly where you found it. Once you are home, log into your geocaching.com account and leave a message for the owner of the cache. Now- on to the next one!
Geocaching is a great addition to hiking excursions, and vacations. There’s always enough time to fit a little “caching” in!