The couple was wandering around in an area by our parking lot...kind of an unusual site. So, as our manager left for the day, he pulled up to visit with them and discovered they were geocaching (gee-oh-cashing, for those who don't know).
So what is geocaching? It's a world-wide, real-time treasure hunt conducted by millions of people...right in our own backyards!
Who does it? Anyone! Families, travelers...anyone with a GPS or GPS-enabled mobile phone can play the game.
The people, called geocachers, use GPS coordinates to locate "treasures," trinkets, and items hidden in containers, called geocaches or "cache" for short.
According to geocaching.com, there are 2,190,817 active geocaches and over six million geocachers worldwide.
While it's called a "game," the rules are VERY simple. If you take something out of a geocache, replace it with something of equal or lesser value. Record your find in the log book included in the cache, and go online to record your experience at www.geocaching.com.
The size of the cache can vary...it could be the size of, for example, a small LED toy flashlight or smaller, or it could be as big as a bucket! It could be hidden in a box or it could be hanging from a tree. You just have to look high and low and find them. Small caches may simply hold a logbook for you to record your visit, while the bigger caches may hold items. Remember the rule, if you take an item, replace it with something of equal or lesser value. There are even trackable pieces inside some of the caches, some of which have traveled thousands of miles around the world because of geocachers taking and replacing. So, be prepared to replace what you take.
How did this all get started? CliffsNotes version:
May 2000 GPS coordinates become widely accessible. Guy hangs a bucket full of prizes in a tree, publishes the coordinates on an Internet forum. Within three days two people find the bucket, write about their find online, and BAM! Geocaching is born.
Let's go back to our friendly, geocaching couple earlier this week. They were from Pennsylvania, had been at our neighboring Adventureland Park and were adding to their travels by geocaching in the area. There were at least four caches they found on our property...and what's really cool you can go to the geocaching.com log book and see photos of people who have been here on geocache hunts!
I'm already seeing that this is something my husband and I are going to HAVE to explore. And what a great way for families with kids, in this electronic society, to "connect" with the outdoors.
Okay, I have to go find something....but first, I think we need to go hide something! Hmmmm....
Caches are never buried and make it appropriate for the outdoors...no food items or scented items or things that might melt or freeze. For a full listing of guidelines and more helpful information, visit www.geocaching.com.
Before hiding something in an Iowa state park, visit the Iowa DNR web page www.iowadnr.gov/Recreation/CampingFacilityRentals/RulesRegulations/Geocaching.aspx
Geocaching Glossary of Terms - www.geocaching.com/about/glossary.aspx