Tuesday, April 19, 2011

The Difference between Geocaching and Geocache

Geocaching in Bruce County, Ontario
is a fun sport for anyone seeking an adventure. As a family, we had completed the Explore The Bruce "Adventure Passport contest" which you can play all summer yet found ourselves wanting more to explore in Bruce County. The 12 destinations on the passport adventure were unique and exciting and we were craving the adventure that we had just completed. It was then that my neighbor mentioned geocaching. I had to ask, what is geocaching? I was told that it was treasure hunting using a GPS to find hidden Tupperware containers. I had to laugh because I wasn’t really sure about this game at all. It wouldn’t hurt to at least check out the website, so I logged into geocaching.com and signed up for a free account. I didn’t own a GPS, and hoped that we might have luck finding one of these hidden treasures without a GPS. I didn’t want to purchase a GPS just in case we didn’t actually like this game, but I knew that we could borrow one from the various library branches in Bruce County.

After starting our account, I started to look around the map to see
where exactly in Southern Ontario's Bruce County that these caches were hidden. I was blown away when I saw that there were over 12 right in our hometown of Wiarton. I didn’t want to draw a lot of attention to ourselves without a GPS, so we traveled to a small beach area and started our first geocaching adventure without a GPS in hand. We printed off the co-ordinates and I decided to use all of the clues posted by other geocachers to find the treasure. I followed the basic clues and searched for almost an hour when I happened to find a spot that I thought might be a good hide. After moving a log I was shocked to see a medium sized Tupperware container hidden inside of a rock crevice. I screamed out to my son, “I found the treasure”. He hurried over towards me and we opened our first cache. Hidden inside were a few items for trade; a keychain, a pen, a few child items and the log book for us to sign. I signed our name and my son was delighted to pick anything from the cache that he wanted for himself.

I knew that there were a few rules to play this game and they are:

  1. If you take something from the cache, be sure to leave something of equal or greater value.
  2. Sign the log and hide the cache exactly as you found it, so that future geocachers have as much fun as you did finding it and the final rule.
  3. Log your visit and find on Geocaching.com

I didn’t really have anything on me, but pulled out my keys and removed the keychain and put it into the container to replace the child item that my son took. I signed the log and re-hid it exactly as we had found it. We crawled back out of the forest area and looked back at the beach area and I knew that we had just found an amazing new sport for my son and I too participate in. I think I was more excited hunting for the cache than he was, but his eyes and squeal of delight when the actual treasure was found told me that we has just found a great new hobby for us to partake in. When we got home, we logged our visit on the website an I knew that we were both hooked. Geocaching is awesome. We were very lucky for our first few searches because we found our first 5 finds without a GPS; however, the hides became far trickier and we had to use a GPS to continue playing. We bought a GPS because we knew that we were hooked on this game and we wanted to be able to play at anytime.

We did learn a few things from geocaching very quickly and that is to bring a GPS and extra batteries, water, food and always dress appropriately for the areas you are hiking too. Also, make sure you also remember a map of the area and a compass. It is also important to note that all geocaches look different and come in a variety of sizes. A cache often contains hidden treasures that are perfect for children or a variety of items that can be random for adults. You will always find a logbook for you too sign. Most caches are hidden in ammo cans or Tupperware containers, but they may also be as small as film containers or even extremely tiny containers called micros or nanos. Some caches even have ‘travel bugs’ which are trackable items that are designed to found by geocachers and placed into new caches for others to find.

We have now hidden 10 of our own geocaches across Bruce county in areas that we knew that are unique and not commonly seen by others. The best part is that this is free to play and something you can do during and season or various weather conditions. As a family we are able to continue exploring around Bruce County by finding these caches and with new ones always being made; we always have something to do. The cache count in Bruce County is now over 450, so this game will take us awhile. Geocaching is an international game and with 1,335,310 active geocaches around the world, this game will keep you busy!


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