When I was in grade school, I used to love dressing up and putting on plays with my little friends. My favorite movie was Labyrinth. (“You remind me of the babe. What babe? The babe with the power …”) I spent hours entertaining myself in our driveway, singing and dancing all by my lonesome (one time I made up a whole song-and-dance routine about a beach ball.) In other words, I had a very healthy imagination and often lived in my own fantasy world. (I played with my Barbies for much longer than most of my friends.)
And to me, geocaching seems like a grown-up treasure hunt, totally appealing to my sense of adventure. It’s like an adult version of hide-and-seek.
According to geocaching.com, “Geocaching is a real-world, outdoor treasure hunting game using GPS-enabled devices. Participants navigate to a specific set of GPS coordinates and then attempt to find the cache [pronounced “cash,” like “cashing” a check] container hidden at that location.”
Once a person finds the cache, they write about it in a little logbook and then leave their own “treasure” (a small toy, a book, whatever). The rule is “take-a-treasure/leave-a-treasure.” The contents of the box should be family-friendly and nonperishable (or you can say hello to bugs and mice). The container should also be waterproof.
Benefits include the thrill of the hunt and that ‘a-ha!’ moment of finding the container, the fun of being out in nature, the environmental stewardship aspect of CITO—or cash in, trash out—when those playing try to clean up the litter and trash at area parks, and the fact that it appeals to most ages and personality types. There are even online forums for those who play regularly and want to share what they’ve been looking for and the fun finds they’ve discovered. (Those who don’t play—non-geocachers—are “muggles” in geocaching slang.)
If you’re like me, a muggle who is curious to try geocaching, the first place to start is on the official geocaching website.
There are 25 Minnesota state parks in on the fun as well. You can find a list on the Minnesota DNR website.
And every so often there’s a “Geocaching 101” workshop at a state park, scheduled from July through October—complete with instruction cards and free loaner GPS units. The next one is this Saturday, August 2 at Sibley State Park from 2-3 p.m.