Almost every new technology ends up being used for fun. Of course, we don’t want you to think that every invention was made in to be used in fun ways, but humankind can get bored pretty easily, and with more and more ways to have fun, our brain would find new ways to make us uninterested for any kind of activity. So we used our technology to make new ways for our brain to have a good time, on top of using those technologies in serious ways.
Just think about it. The printing press was a major discovery that bought our civilization to the next level of progress because it made books, and knowledge in them, available for every single individual. And education was the main purpose printing press was used until novels became the most popular way to have fun.
The same can be said about the internet. At first, it was used as a communication network for scientists, and today the majority of bandwidth is used for video streaming (and the majority of said video streaming is porn). And then we have GPS, which was used in the U.S Army for as a way for vessels and individual soldiers find out their exact location, and to be able to find a path and not get lost whenever they are. But one way to use GPS is to hunt hidden treasures in the form of GPS caches. Another example how advanced technology is used for fun purposes. We, the mankind, really like to have fun, don’t we?
But, geocaching isn’t something never seen before, something that suddenly comes into existence along with the rise of personal GPS receivers. A similar activity existed for more than 100 years.
Geocaching origins and history
Geocaching originated from letterboxing, an outdoor activity combining orienteering and puzzle solving. Letterboxing can be traced back to the middle of the 19th century, when people began to leave letters in specially constructed boxes. Once found, letters and postcards would be sent by whoever found them. And while some were placed in easy-to-reach places most were located in well-hidden locations and could only be found by following clues printed in special catalogs.
A classic letterbox
Each letterboxing club had its own catalog. People would get catalogs and went on hunts for letterboxes. The activity was limited to the UK, but in recent times it has spread to the US. Today, letterbox locations can be found on specialized websites.
Geocaching is very similar to letterboxing; it can be called as a modern form of letterboxing. It first appeared shortly after civil sector got access to high accuracy GPS services. The first geocache was placed on May 3, 2000by Dave Ulmer of Beavercreek, Oregon. He posted GPS coordinates of the geocache online, on one GPS navigation newsgroup and by May 6 his geocache was found twice. The first cache is still there, containing a plaque called the Original Stash Tribute Plaque.
Why would someone participate in Geocaching
Well, the activity is a fun way to rummage through outdoors. Have some fun in nature, get some fresh air and find a couple of caches. Caches are usually weatherproof boxes containing either physical logbook (modern caches have QR codes or USB drives) or some trinkets like coins, badges, books or other types of tradable items.
A classic geocache
Whoever located a cache should put their name in the log book and, if brought a tradable item, take something out of it and put something they brought with them. This way geocaching community keeps caches interesting and always different, giving those who already located a specific cache motivation to visit it again and find out did someone put something new in it.
There are tens of thousands of caches all over the world, and if you think you probably don’t have geocaches hidden in your area, think again. Just visit geocaching.com (it is by far the largest geocaching community in the world) and see how many geocaches are hidden in your vicinity, you will probably be surprised. Most countries in the world have active geocaching communities, and according to geocaching.com, there’s at least one geocache hidden in 184 out of 194 countries.
So, if you like a good outdoor adventure, if you want to be active, if you like nature, if you like the idea of finding hidden treasures, you should try geocaching.
What do you need in order to participate in geocaching?
The biggest geocaching community is located at geocaching.com, and all you need in order to participate in this fun activity is a free account along with a GPS-enabled device (a smartphone or a standalone GPS receiver). Since most of us have a smartphone, the best way is to visit this page and download the official geocaching app for Android or iOS.
Other than a smartphone, you will need some items to swap them once you start discovering geocaches, and if you plan on go on a long hunt, make sure you have a car or some other vehicle capable of traversing though country roads since most geocaches are hidden away from towns and cities.
What else is there to know about Geocaching
First of all, there are other sites aside from geocaching.com on which you can find cache locations. Try visiting gpsgames.org, earthcache, or terracaching.com and find out do they have some caches near you ready to be discovered.
Next, you can become an active member of the community. You can place new geocaches and discuss about the activity with other users, just visit geocaching.com forum and there you will find discussions by country. If you plan on hiding new caches, be sure to check out official guidelines.
Different Forms of Geocaches - Image source: geocaching.com
There are special events and gatherings that take place from time to time, during which communities all over the world go outside and participate in finding caches. You can find more about them on geocaching.com forum where members announce and discuss about upcoming gatherings.
Also, many caches have special items called trackables. Trackables are items that carry special ID codes, and once you discover one take it with you (most are there to travel, and to be stashed in other caches), you don’t have to leave anything in return but if you take a trackable be ready to participate in its journey.
So, after you take a trackable, go to geocaching.com page where you can enter a special code (or name) placed on a trackable and see what its goal is. From then on you should make sure to participate in completing that goal, after all by picking a trackable you’ve agreed to help it reach its goal, right? This can take you to new countries, to new caches, and by taking trackable you can meet new people, people who placed the said trackable in the first place. You can even activate your own trackable (more info about this can be found on the page linked above).
So there you have it. No, after you found out what geocaching is, pick up your phone, make an account on geocaching.com, and start hunting for caches!