From the geocaching website:
Geocaching is a real-world, outdoor treasure hunting game using GPS-enabled devices. Participants navigate to a specific set of GPS coordinates and then attempt to find the geocache (container) hidden at that location.
At its simplest level, geocaching requires these 8 steps:
- Register for a free Basic Membership.
- Visit the "Hide & Seek a Cache" page.
- Enter your postal code and click "search."
- Choose any geocache from the list and click on its name.
- Enter the coordinates of the geocache into your GPS Device.
- Use your GPS device to assist you in finding the hidden geocache.
- Sign the logbook and return the geocache to its original location.
- Share your geocaching stories and photos online.
Rules of geocaching:
- If you take something from the geocache (or "cache"), leave something of equal or greater value.
- Write about your find in the cache logbook.
- Log your experience at www.geocaching.com
There is a ton of information on their website under their Geocaching 101 page located here. The very short version is that it is like a global treasure hunt. People hide geocaches and list them online, you can search for one near you (they are all over the world), plug it's coordinates into a GPS device or GPS enabled smart phone and head out to search for it. It sounded like a blast, so I signed my family up for a free membership and then started searching the area in New Jersey where we lived.
It was not as fabulous as what I had envisioned (or seen through my friend's photos). There were a few in my area, but they all had hints and comments like, "Bring your waders- had to wade through a small bog to get to this one.", "Spiders, spiders, loads of spiders have taken up residence here.", "Found it- but after cleaning out quite a few cobwebs and nearly being carried away by the mosquitos."
So.. ummm... yeah. We never went on a single hunt.
Fast forward four years. This past June, school was out, England (where we live now) was enjoying a very nice summer and I couldn't get my kids outdoors. They just wanted to lie around on the couches playing video games and watching television. I turned the tv off and took the games away and instead of going outside or doing something creative, they just got demanding; always asking for food, something to do, water or entertainment. One day (probably day TWO of summer vacation), I had enough. I was trying to think of something to do outdoors that would peak their interest. I suddenly remembered geocaching.
I looked up the site again, verified we did still have an account and then searched for caches in my area. Much to my surprise, there were loads. I would love to tell you that the kids and I happily talked about it, set out on our first hunt, found it, had a good Brady Bunch moment in the woods where the kids said, "Gee, golly, Mom, this is SWELL! Can we do it again? I LOVE spending time with you in the outdoors!" But, that didn't happen either.
The first three attempts over about a week to locate one resulted in me sifting through stinging nettle (ouch) and digging in various wooded areas while the kids stood on the path and whined and moaned that they were (pick one): bored/ tired/hot/hungry/thirsty/being subjected to child abuse. I am stubborn, so I spent up to an hour in each location looking while the kids got increasingly crabby and totally ruined family fun outing time.
And then something miraculous happened. One day, we found one. And we opened it and there were prizes inside the kids could swap and suddenly they were interested. That is until the next time I mentioned it and they moaned and groaned and had to be forced out of the house and into the car. But then, we found another one... and a third and suddenly, they were hooked. From that point on, they were constantly over my shoulder looking at the listings online, trying to figure out which one we would attempt next and plotting our "attack". When we would arrive at "ground zero" and could practically smell the geocache, they would frantically begin searching, trying to be the first to find it.
What started out looking like a LONG summer where I yell at the kids and throw them outside, turned into a wonderful adventure that seemed to pass very quickly. We found geocaches during the week while my husband was at work.
We all looked for geoaches while we were out on the weekends.
We even found one in Germany and two in France while we were on our summer vacation!
(yes- that IS a lipstick container!! In France)
Geocaching forced us to go places and see things we wouldn't otherwise have visited.
(caching in England)
(caching in England)
(Le Jardin de la Liberte- Liberty Garden- in Gravelines, France. There is a geocache in the garden, but not where this picture is taken)
(geocaching in England)