What is Geocaching? Geocaching is a fun and rewarding treasure hunting adventure where participants worldwide hide and find “caches” using hand held GPSr (Global Positioning System Receiver) units. Ask any geocacher and they’ll tell you that there is nothing like the excitement of your first successful find.
The word “geocache” was derived from “Geo”, meaning Earth, and “Cache” (pronounced cash), a French word for a place where supplies are hidden. So geocaches are like supplies (or in our case, goodies) that are hidden all over the world and geocaching is the hobby of finding them.
Before the word “geocaching” was invented it was called “stash hunting”. On May 3, 2000, Dave Ulmer, a computer consultant, became the “father” of geocaching when he hid the very first “stash” in a wooded area near Beaver Creek, Oregon. The stash contained a logbook, a can of beans, mapping software, five dollars in cash, and a slingshot. Previous to May 2000 the GPSr’s that were available to the public didn’t have the accuracy needed to hunt small things like a stash. Ulmer hid his stash and posted the coordinates on a USENET group and called it the “GPS Stash Hunt”.
One of the first people to find the “stash” was Mike Teague. After finding Ulmer’s “stash” he wrote about it on his website and started a mailing list where members could receive locations of new stashes. One of the members of the mailing list was a guy by the name of Mike Stum. Stum is credited with inventing the word “geocaching” which soon became the universal term for the hobby.
Not only is geocaching fun, but it’s a great family activity that provides excitement, exercise, and fresh air. Kids love it and with over 1 million caches hidden around the world there are probably many close to your home. On our own geocaching adventures we found things close to home that we never knew existed. Geocaching is not just for people who live close to the great outdoors. You can find caches in small town and large cities as well. Many geocachers also include geocaching on their vacations, giving them an opportunity to search for caches that would be too far away during their regular outings.
Geocachers are an inventive bunch of people and have placed caches just about any place you could think of, even underwater. That’s part of the fun for cache hiders and seekers alike, making them challenging for both the mind and the body. Some geocaches even require you to have a boat or climbing gear to get to their location. One geocache that my sons and I found was sealed with a chain and a combination lock so we had to search the area for the lock combination. Another one we found was located in a swamp inside of a huge frog lawn ornament. The cache owner had appropriately named his cache as “Frog Bog”.
If you decide to try geocaching you’ll most likely come across fellow geocachers during some of your hunts. You won’t find a nicer bunch of people, members of the geocaching community are always happy to share tips and advice and you’ll learn a lot from them. Just about every geocacher or family that geocaches together has a nickname. My two sons and I are “Da3Amigos”. In case you’re wondering why it’s “Da” instead of “The” it’s because at the time my sons where fond of saying “duh” when they were making fun of each other.
When looking for caches you’ll need to learn to think outside of the box. When you reach the general location of a new geocache, also know as ground zero, start by looking for things that just don’t seem right. Some caches will be easy to spot while others will require some additional hunting, don’t be too disappointed if your first geocaching adventure ends in a “DNF” (did not find). It’s happened to all of us.(and still does..lol) On the other hand maybe you’ll be one of the lucky “FTF” (first to find) geocachers and you’ll get a change to grab a special gift that a lot of cache owners leave for the first person to find their “hidden treasure”.
Finally, I suggest you make your first geocaching adventure an easy one if you have kids. After they’ve successfully found their first geocache they’ll be anxious to go again and you can start searching for more difficult caches.
I wish you happy hunting and many successful finds on your geocaching adventures, have fun and respect the environment!