Guide to Geocaching



Geocaching is a fun way for families to get exercise and spend time outdoors while using their brains. It’s essentially a modern-day treasure hunt. There are usually a GPS receiver, a set of coordinates and clues that lead you to the treasures. It involves a lot problem-solving skills. If everything works out, you will be led to a cache of goodies hidden somewhere outdoors.

What is a Cache? – Caches are typically a weatherproof box full of fun trinkets such as small toys hidden under a rock, in a tree or some other location.

How to Find a Cache – The geographical coordinates for caches are usually posted on one of the geocaching websites. A popular site is geocaching.com. In addition to geocaches in your area, it provides information about geocaching and photos from fellow geocachers. There also may be information about difficulty levels and the terrain. 

Geocaching Rules – There are some general guidelines for geocaching: Don’t put caches on private land without permission or in national parks or wilderness areas. If coordinates to a cache lead to private property, ask permission before you cross into the area. Do not put offensive or inflammatory items in a cache. Hide the cache in the same place you found it. If you take something out of the box, replace it with something else.

How to Place a Geocache – According to REI Outdoor School instructor Steve Wood who is founding member of Geocachers of the Bay Area, a geocache should be placed so that it is not noticeable to passers-by, but is easily accessible. Place so there is no damage to terrain or vegetation. 

How to Play – It usually involves navigating to the cache by way of coordinates stored in your GPS receiver. GPS receivers have different ways of bringing up previously stored waypoints or changing waypoint coordinates. You may have to check the owner’s manual to find out how it works.

What to Bring – A GPS receiver, topo map and compass are a must. You should also bring a flashlight, water, cell phone, first-aid kit, insect repellent, sunscreen, extra batteries for your electronic devices, a camera, outerwear, a notebook and pen to keep a running log of your caches and cache treasures.

 

Geocaching Websites 

geocaching.com 

Geocachers of the Bay Area

REI

 

 Teresa Mills-Faraudo is an associate editor at Bay Area Parent.
 
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