Wacky Wednesday- Geocache Basics
What is Wacky Wednesday? Last year we created WACKY WEDNESDAY to help us get over hump day and try to remember to do something fun and unusual on Wednesdays. Not every Wednesday is Wacky Wednesday, but we try to do something a little crazy or nature-oriented.
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This week we are talking about our new “hobby” geocaching. We first learned about geocaching a number of years ago but without a GPS knew we just wouldn’t be able to enjoy this sport. I have been wanting something that will get the kids outside and be more than a nature hike. (I love the hikes, but they do not always until we are at the end. Once they have discovered something new or exciting then they are usually thankful.)
We also want to learn more map and directional skills and thought geocaching would be just the thing to help us do that. A fun and exciting thing to boot!
WHAT IS GEOCACHING- Wikipedia gives a really good overview of what geocaching is all about:
“Geocaching is an outdoor sporting activity in which the participants use a Global Positioning System (GPS) receiver or mobile device and other navigational techniques to hide and seek containers, called geocaches or caches, anywhere in the world. A typical cache is a small waterproof container containing a logbook where the geocacher enters the date they found it and signs it with their established code name. Larger containers such as plastic storage containers (tupperware or similar) or ammo boxes can also contain items for trading, usually toys or trinkets of little value. Geocaching is often described as a game of high-tech hide and seek, sharing many aspects with benchmarking, trigpointing, orienteering, treasure-hunting, letterboxing, and waymarking…”
Before you hit the trails or city streets you may want to consider what you will need to prepare to geocache. This will all depend on the number and age of participants as well as experience with the outdoors. Here’s our quick list of things we suggest you do in preparing to geocache for the first time.
LEARN your GPS- be sure you know how to use your GPS. (I researched quite a bit before settling on a Garmin etrex Legend Cx) Set your home point and then add additional waypoints for the cache’s you hope to find. We suggest loading 3-5 caches that are near one another to help you have success.
GEOCACHE BAG- have you thought what types of tools you may need once you find the cache? If you are only seeking larger traditional caches then you should be able to find them pretty easily but you should still pack some bare essentials.
–first aid kit & sunscreen (you can make it as simple or elaborate as you want)
-snacks and water (since you won’t know for sure how long you will be gone.)
–gloves, tweezers, flashlight, bug spray, small plastic ziplocs, etc.
-SWAG items, Trackable items, pen, extra log sheets, etc.
-GPS and Camera (don’t wanna forget to take pics of your great finds!)
DRESS THE PART- you do not want to get caught in a patch of poison ivy with shorts and sandals on. Wear comfortable shoes and clothes. Be prepared for the weather (rainy, snowy, hot, humid,etc.)
FILL UP YOUR TANK and EMPTY YOUR BLADDER-Make sure you have a good idea of where you are going (Urban, Suburban, Country, Wilderness, Desert,etc) and how far from a restroom you will be. If you have little ones be sure to pack a potty seat just in case. Keep your gas tank and your bellies from getting empty.
SWAG and TRAVEL BUGS/TRACKABLES- you can collect small toys and trinkets from around your house or make some items like geostones, necklace charms,etc. I was not about to pay for a trackable this early into our geocaching since they can run from $5.00 on up per trackable tag/code. I searched and found a place to print your own Free trackable ID including a QR code! You will want to decide how many trackables you want to start with. (We recommend 10-25 so you can place one in each cache you find and then see how far they travel!) A simple way to create one is to print small trackable codes and mod podge/clear nail polish them onto flat rocks.
EVENTS-If your family really gets into geocaching, then consider joining a local group or attending an event. Usually events with registration fees will have special caches and geocoins for those events only.
Tips for your First Geocaching hunt from Geocacher University