Geocaching is an outdoor recreational activity, in which participants use a Global Positioning System (GPS) or mobile devices to hide and seek containers, called "geocaches" or "caches", at specific locations marked by coordinates all over the world. (Source: Wikipedia)
In simple terms though, geocaching is a high-tech scavenger hunt or game of hide and seek. The item you are seeking is a ‘cache’ which is a waterproof container that contains a logbook and pen, which you use to sign as evidence you found it. After signing the logbook, you must place the cache exactly as you found it to prepare for the next person to find it. Sometimes geocaches contain extra items, such as trading tokens.
You can participate in geocaching in a number of ways. You can use a handheld GPS device, in which you enter coordinates, and it will let you know how far away, and in which direction the coordinates lead. You can also use many mobile devices as GPS units or can download the geocaching.com app to your device. The latter 2 options will use data from your cellular plan.
Once you find the spot the coordinates lead you to, you then have to find the cache. Sometimes they are well hidden, sometimes they are well camouflaged. Sometimes the coordinates (or your device) are not 100% accurate, so it’s good to search a small area around where the coordinates lead you.
An important aspect of geocaching is discretion. It’s important that others around you are not aware of what you are doing, or what you have found. People who are not involved in the hunt are often nicknamed ‘Muggles’ (a Harry Potter reference). If a cache is found to be damaged, moved or taken, it’s often thought to be the work of a ‘muggle’ who doesn’t know or understand the purpose of what was found.
If you’d like to give geocaching a try, you can visit the geocaching website www.geocaching.com where you will see there are literally millions of caches hidden all over the world. At the time of writing, there are 466 registered geocaches hidden in Lethbridge alone. You can choose to use the geocaching app, or to use the coordinates with a handheld GPS or a different GPS app.
There is a special Lethbridge 2017: Get Active Through Sport geocache hidden somewhere in Lethbridge, I challenge you to find it. You won’t find this special cache on any worldwide geocaching website, instead, the coordinates can be found here (49°40'28"N 112°52'19"W) and on our website www.lethbridge2017.ca. You can use a GPS or any GPS app on your smartphone to find it. In the event you have trouble locating it, email email@example.com, and I will email you back a clue. I look forward to checking the logbook in a few days to see how many people found it!
While geocaching, consider playing by this rule: Cache in, Trash out. This means if you find garbage while geocaching, and can safely collect it or move it to a trash collection bin, do so. This is a simple way to help keep our parks and green spaces clean.
Geocaching is just 1 of the 150 things to do in Lethbridge that are part of the #YQLChallenge. If you’d like to learn more about this or other Lethbridge 2017 initiatives, visit our website at www.lethbridge2017.ca
- Tanya Whipple
Originally published in the Lethbridge Herald on May 26th, 2017
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