The "sport" of geocaching
A geocaching outing involves finding the coordinates for a cache on the
Internet, entering or downloading these coordinates into a GPS unit and
then setting out to find the cache following the directional arrow or
map on the handheld GPS unit.
This may sound quite intimidating to some adults. But to kids, working
with computers and the Internet is second nature, and taking a GPS into
the outdoors to find a hidden treasure can be an exciting new adventure.
When you find the cache, it’s protocol to celebrate with high-fives all
around, sign the logbook, take a prize and leave a prize. Back home you
can log your visit on the cache’s website to inform the cache creator
and others of your success.
Geocaching has seen tremendous growth since its humble beginnings just a
few years ago. Since then, the sport has become an international
phenomenon with geocachers hiding and finding caches all around the
world. Today there are more than 97,000 caches in the United States
Prior to 2000, the U.S. military/government-developed GPS navigation
system had a varying amount of inaccuracy when it came to civilian use.
This “error” could place a civilian GPS unit as much as 300 feet off an
Fortunately, in the last few years, that error has been reduced so the
GPS units you buy at the local sporting-goods store can pinpoint a
location to within a few yards. Such accuracy made it possible for
geocaching to really take off.
Getting started in geocaching can be as easy as buying a GPS unit and
doing a little Internet research. With tens of thousands of caches in
the United States, the chances are good that you can find one very close
Don’t think geocaching is only for the “techy” types. What’s great about
this sport is that everyone in the family can get involved by preparing
the equipment, obtaining maps, researching cache locations and hiking
the terrain in search of treasure. Stories recounting the thrill of the
hunt and the contents of the cache will enliven campfires for years to
come (“Remember when we got that troll doll out of that cache at
Crescent Lake?” “Yeah, it still rides above the sink in the camp
As with all outdoor camping activities, preparedness is
the key to having a great time. Take along a small fanny pack or light
daypack with a first-aid kit, drinking water and all the other
“essentials” for a day in the woods. You also need to be aware of any
potential dangers in your geocaching location.
When preparing for your outing, pay attention to the difficulty ratings
of caches. Geocaches are rated on a five-star scale on how well they are
hidden (one for easy, five for difficult). They are also rated on how
difficult it may be to actually traverse the terrain in the area leading
up to and near the cache. If you’re treasure hunting with small
children, look for one to two stars in both categories. If you’re
looking for a more adventurous and challenging endeavor, look for caches
rated four to five stars.
Using the Geocaching website or the Geocaching application for Android,™
iPhone® or Windows® devices, you can select a local cache to target. Your first find
may be discovered on your drive to work or along another path you normally take.
Remember, geocaches are all around us, even the places we have been hundreds
of times. The website and smartphone app give each geocache a difficulty rating of
one to five stars, making it easy to start with something you won’t have too much
trouble finding. Then, once you’ve got the hang of it, you can incorporate a series of
geocaching adventures on your next RV journey.
As the sport of geocaching evolves, is becoming increasingly diverse.
For example, camping geocachers may attracted to a variation of the
sport that leads to specific points of interest instead of hidden
The “treasure” these caches provide can be anything from a great photo
location to something with historical significance. Reading the
description, or hints in the description, will provide clues to what you
Geocaching is just one of several benefits you will gain from learning
how to use a GPS unit. Many people are starting to recognize the safety
benefits of operating a handheld GPS device.
For example, geocaching requires entering coordinates into the GPS unit.
The same idea is used when kids are hiking or biking away from camp.
The “waypoint” (location coordinates) of your campsite can be quickly
and easily “marked” on a GPS unit, making it easy for the user to find
his way back to camp.
Hands-on experience is a great way to learn. As kids grow and move from
geocaching with Mom and Dad to venturing out on their own, they will
have the GPS treasure hunt skills they need to make it
back to camp (or home) safely.
We must take this opportunity to offer a few cautionary words regarding
geocaching. Participants can become so engrossed in the sport that they
focus on the GPS screen instead of where they are driving, biking or
walking. Obviously, not paying attention to the road, trail or terrain
ahead can be dangerous. Please be careful and geocache responsibly.
Geocachers should also act responsibly toward the environment. Leave no
trace of your explorations other than your name in the logbook and your
contribution to the treasure cache.
So if you want to get the kids excited about your next camping trip,
toss geocaching into the discussion and watch it generate renewed
enthusiasm in your family’s outdoor adventures.
Bruce W. Smith and Larry Walton, on Woodalls.com
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Check out the other Bruce Bernhart RV Websites and Blogs:
Solar power for your RV
The care and feeding of your RV battery
The sport of "geocaching" and RV refrigeration basics
The basics of RV power inversion
RV travel tips and tire care
Advanced discussion on power inversion
Tips on buying a house battery and cold weather maintenance
RV insurance basics
Buying the right generator for your RV and portable power
RV television reception options
Care and maintenance of the RV air conditioner
Top RV destinations
RV long-term supplies and weight considerations
RV insurance- Road protection and bodily injury coverage
RV battery types and winter charging considerations
Deep cycle battery basics
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Bruce Bernhart on buying and setting up your new mandolin
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