If you have small children who love treasure hunts, you like to go do fun things with them that don’t cost an arm and a leg, and you’re never heard of geocaching, you are in for a major treat. Actually, my husband and I enjoyed this before our little bean came along, so really the kids arent’ necessary. Unlike when you try to play on the monkey bars and set up an “ice-cream” store in the bottom of the playground platform. Apparently, as an adult, this sort of child-less activity is generally frowned upon.
But back to geocaches.
You have undoubtedly passed by several of these hidden treasures without ever knowing they were there. Geocaching is a world-wide game of hide-and-seeking containers(caches) of different sizes, using GPS to locate the area where the cache has been hidden. Once you reach the location, you need to search around the environment to find the cache (generally a small to medium-sized Tupperware), which houses a logbook to sign your names, the date and any comments, along with various small items.
The containers can be hidden in many different spots, such as in holes in trees, under bushes or rocks, magnetically stuck to metal objects, and on and on. If you see something in the geocache that you would like to have, you are welcome to do so, but you need to leave a different item in its place. Occasionally there are items that cannot be traded for – for instance there is a cache in Duck Creek Park on Salt Spring Island, with a duck that is marked as meant to stay as a guardian of the cache.
There are a couple of ways to start geocaching.
If you have a portable GPS you can search for geocaches in your area at www.geocaching.com, by choosing “hide & seek a cache” in the drop-down menu from “play”. There are a variety of ways to search for a cache here, so you can choose whatever works best for you. Once you figure out which geocache you want to find, you can jot down the GPS co-ordinates and scroll down the page of information for that cache to find some hints about where to find it once you’ve reached the right location.
I, myself, do not have a portable GPS, so I use a free application on my smart phone called “Geo Bucket”. This application is basically a map that you can move around and zoom in and out of, with the locations of various geocaches marked on it. If you’re looking at this map and there are not a lot of caches shown, push “Live” to load up the many hidden locations out there. As an added bonus, when the regular map on my smart phone doesn’t work because I’m out reception range (not uncommon on SSI), the Geo Bucket map always loads up. Even with the application I use www.geocaching.com to get some hints for the caches if they’re tricky to find.
Hunting for geocaches is the easiest way I’ve found to get children excited about going for walks, and with the incredible amount of caches hidden on Salt Spring (let alone the rest of the world), it’s basically impossible to run out of new locations to check out. Have fun and happy hunting – and don’t forget to bring some trading items!
How do you go about finding geocaches? Have you ever hid one yourself?