Geocaching

From Academic Kids

Geocaching is an outdoor sport that involves the use of a Global Positioning System ("GPS") receiver to find a "geocache" (or "cache") placed anywhere in the world. A typical cache is a small, waterproof container containing a logbook and "treasure". Geocaching is a unique take on an earlier game called Letterboxing in that it uses two recent technologies, the GPS and the Internet. Participants are called geocachers.

The sport of geocaching was made possible by the "turning off" of the Selective Availability of the Global Positioning System on May 1, 2000. The first documented placement of a cache with GPS assistance took place on May 3, 2000 by Dave Ulmer. The location was posted on the Usenet newsgroup sci.geo.satellite-nav. By May 6, 2000 it had been found twice and logged once.

Geocaching is growing rapidly in popularity all over the world. As of June 2, 2005 there were 171,116 active caches in 215 countries posted on geocaching.com (http://www.geocaching.com).

Contents

Geocaches

Missing image
Geocache.jpg
Geocache Loonse en Drunense Duinen (http://www.geocaching.com/seek/cache_details.aspx?guid=f0450e73-f417-4855-ae28-1ac87e63806a) in The Netherlands

For the traditional geocache, a geocacher will place a waterproof container, containing a log book (with pen or pencil) and treasures, then note the cache coordinates. These coordinates, along with other details of the location are posted online. Other geocachers obtain the coordinates from the Internet and, using handheld GPS receivers, seek out the cache. The finding geocachers record their exploits in a logbook contained therein. Geocachers are free to take objects from the cache, in exchange for leaving something of similar or higher value, so hopefully there's always treasure for the next person to find.

Typical cache treasures aren't especially high in intrinsic value, but often make interesting souvenirs. Aside from the Logbook, common cache contents are:

  • Two dollar bills or other unusual coins or currency
  • Small children's toys
  • Ornamental buttons
  • CDs or Books
  • Hitchhikers (a.k.a. travelers or Travel Bugs) - objects moved from cache to cache, and whose travels may be logged online

There are several variations on the "traditional" geocache.

  • Micro-cache: too small to hold anything more than a log book
  • Small cache: bigger than a micro, but not quite full sized
  • Regular cache: the "normal" size for caches; usually a well sized tupperware or military ammo can
  • Large cache: a really big cache that is a five gallon bucket or larger. This size of cache is a rare treat.

Other types of geocaches include:

  • Moving/Traveling Caches: finder logs the cache, trades trinkets, then re-hides the cache in a different place.
  • Multi-cache: requires a visit to one or more intermediate points to determine the coordinates of the actual cache
  • Mystery/puzzle cache: Coordinates listed are not the coordinates for the cache, the seeker must solve a puzzle to find the actual coordinates.
  • Event cache: a meeting for geocachers, found by date, hour and coordinates
  • Cache in Trash Out: A variation on the event cache, where geocachers get together at a particular location and clean up the trash on the trails.
  • Webcam: a location with a public web cam. You must have someone watching the camera on a computer to "capture" your image
  • Virtual: a location to visit simply for what is already there. To prove you visited the site, you are generally required to either email the cache owner with requested information such as a date or a name on a plaque, or by posting a picture of yourself standing at the site with GPS receiver in hand.
  • Letterbox: contains a stamp for you to stamp your own log book
  • Locationless or reverse cache: the opposite of a traditional cache as the game is to find a specific type of object, like a one-room schoolhouse, log its coordinates and post a picture of you holding your GPS in front of the cache site.
  • Earthcache (http://www.geosociety.org/earthcache/): A special type of virtual cache sponsored and approved by the Geological Society of America and listed on geocaching.com. It is "an educational virtual geocache through which visitors learn about the fascinating planet on which we live -- its landscapes, its geology or the minerals and fossils that are found there."

Geocaching.com was founded and currently maintained by Jeremy Irish. There are other competing listing sites however, including Navicache.com, gpsgames.org, terracaching.com, movingcache.com and others, each catering to a different caching niche.

Geocaching a sport?

Some people, including geocachers themselves, don't know whether to categorize geocaching as a sport, hunt, game, activity or simply a reason to get out of the house. Some geocaches are easy enough to be called "drive-bys" (http://www.geocaching.com/seek/cache_details.aspx?wp=GCG037), so can it really be called a "sport"? But others are very difficult to get to like those under water (http://www.geocaching.com/seek/cache_details.aspx?ID=156563), 50 feet up a tree (http://www.geocaching.com/seek/cache_details.aspx?wp=GCKR3C), on cliffs (http://www.geocaching.com/seek/cache_details.aspx?wp=GCH72F), on high mountain peaks (http://www.geocaching.com/seek/cache_details.aspx?wp=GCJCAW), on the (http://www.brillig.com/geocaching/antarctica.shtml) Antarctic continent or above the (http://www.geocaching.com/seek/cache_details.aspx?wp=GC5803) Arctic Circle.

The sport of geocaching is ultimately a competition against yourself. For many cachers the hunt is its own reward. However friendly rivalries will arise prompting cachers to attempt to find more caches (or travel bugs) than one's "opponent(s)". There is even a certain thrill to be the first to find (http://forums.groundspeak.com/GC/index.php?showtopic=90847) of a newly posted cache.


See also

External links

Associations

Books

"The Essential Guide to Geocaching", Mike Dyer ISBN 1555915221

Listings

Worldwide

Countries

Travelers

Miscellaneous

cs:Geocaching de:Geocaching nl:Geocaching no:Satelittgjemsel pt:Geocaching fi:Geokätkentä sv:Geocaching

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