The best fun you’ll ever have with a GPS
Who are those intent-looking folks walking the trails and forests, attention firmly fixed on their phone’s GPS (Global Positioning System)? Are they lost? Maybe not—those adventurers might just be geocaching.
Invented in 2000 by a group of techies and GPS aficionados (aka geeks), geocaching is described as a “real-world, outdoor treasure hunting game using GPS-enabled devices.” The treasure in this case is called a “cache,” and those who find the cache are called “cachers.”
Would-be cachers go to the website geocaching.com to sign up for a free membership and can then search for a geocaching location in their area.
Since it was started more than 15 years ago, geocaching has grown into a worldwide treasure hunt, and anyone with a GPS can get involved. There are geocaches located all over the world—from Afghanistan to Zimbabwe.
The geocache itself is usually hidden in some sort of container suitable for outdoors that can range from a small film canister to a large plastic container.
At the very least, there’ll be a log so you can sign your name and date when you found the cache. (You’re also encouraged to log your find online at geocaching.com.) But you can find all kinds of wonderful treasures inside a cache.
Any of the treasures inside can be yours, but only if you replace it with something of equal or greater value for the next cacher to find.
Of course! In fact, researchers at Texas A&M University actually studied geocaching’s benefits in a study called Geocaching for Exercise and Activity Research (GEAR) in 2014.
They enrolled 1,000 people between 18 and 77 years old from across the US. Participants tracked physical activity levels over 12 months while geocaching (which researchers referred to as an “exergame”). The average participant walked 16 km (10 mi) per month just while geocaching; they also reported better overall and mental health.
The science says: it’s easier to be fit if you’re also having fun!
Here’s a pretty basic how-to just to get you started. For more detailed directions, go to geocaching.com.
The first geocache was hidden on May 3, 2000, at N 45° 17.460 W 122° 24.800. The black bucket contained a logbook, pencil, 2 CD-ROMs, a cassette recorder, a George of the Jungle VHS tape, a Ross Perot book, four $1 bills, a slingshot handle, and “a pretty notorious can of beans,” according to geocaching.com. Sadly (especially if you’re craving a viewing of George of the Jungle), you won’t find the cache there now; there’s a tribute plaque in its place.
Did you know?