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Set your radar on the Geocache craze

It's the craze that has been sweeping the world and continues to grow...particularly among mums and dads looking to entertain the kids! 

 

But it's also a great Table activity - but if you haven't a clue what it is, then here's a handy guide from geocaching expert Paul Gibson. 

 

Geocaching is a real world, outdoor treasure hunting game using GPS enabled devises.  Players navigate to a specific set of GPS co-ordinates and then attempt to find the geocache (container) hidden at that location.   

 

Be warned! Geocaching can be very addictive. There's no greater feeling than finding your first geocache, but it won't stop there, you'll want to find more and with millions of geocaches hidden  worldwide there'll always be one for you to find.   Geocaches are hidden in a variety of locations, from the local park, at the end of a long hike, under water, on top of a mountain or on your local street, there is actually one on the International Space Station. 

 

The basics of the game are very simple, someone hides a geocache and posts the co-ordinates on the internet for others to go and find.   The finder uses a GPS device to help them locate the hidden geocache.  If they find it, they sign the log book, sometimes trade trinkets, then replace the cache in its original location ready for the next finder.  The finder can then share their geocaching story and photos online.  There are only three basic rules 

 

1) If you take something out of a geocache, you must leave something of equal or greater value 

2) Write your name in the log book 

3) Log your experience on line  

 

Geocaching is a truly, all inclusive fun activity, it's great to play with the family, on your own or in groups with your friends. It can be played by people of all ages and all levels abilities and disabilities. All geocaches are given a one to five star "terrain" rating, so you know how easy it's going to be just getting to the place it is hidden.  Wheelchair users will be able to get to one star geocaches, whereas you're probably going need to abseil down a cliff face or perhaps climb a tall tree using ropes to reach a five star terrain cache (or visit the ISS!).    

 

Each geocache is also given a one to five star "difficulty" rating as a guide to how hard it is going to be to find it once you get to the right spot.  One star difficulty caches will be quite obvious, but a five star cache will have you scratching your head for a long time.   

What do you need to get started?  You will need a GPS enabled device. If you own an Android phone or iPhone, then you'll already have what you need to find your first geocache.   Regular players will find upgrading to a dedicated GPS device will provide better accuracy and longer battery life.  

 

The next step is to register for a free Basic Membership at www.geocaching.com. Then enter your post code into the map and hit search and you'll be amazed how many geocaches within a few metres of your house.  Enter the co-ordinates into your GPS and go out hunting.  There is a Free Intro App that can be downloaded to your phone to make the whole game easier to play. 

 

A word of warning though!  Be very careful not to get spotted by Muggles! Muggles are non players and you may have to use a degree of stealth so you don't give the game away.  There's lots more information available on the geocaching.com website to help you. There's also social events for geocachers so happy hunting! 

 

Paul aka "Stompy" in the Geocaching world, has been "caching" since 2008 and found over 11,000 geocaches in the UK and abroad. For more see Paul's blog  www.geocachetrails.com. You can email him at geocachetrails@gmail.com if would like any more help or advise getting started. 

 

 

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