If you answered “Yes!" to any of these questions, then you're going to be interested in today's Wonder of the Day. Did you realize there's a modern-day, high-tech treasure hunting game played by millions of people around the world? It's true, and it's called geocaching.
People who enjoy geocaching as a hobby — they call themselves geocachers — consider their hobby a sport. So what is it, exactly? Geocaching is an outdoor treasure-hunting game played by real people in the real world.
Geocachers use devices — GPS receivers or GPS-enabled smartphones — capable of communicating with the Global Positioning System (GPS) satellites to navigate to a specific latitude and longitude (known as a set of GPS coordinates). Once at the specific location, they search for a hidden container — called a geocache — hidden at the location.
If you're wondering what a geocache looks like, it can take many forms. Some — called micros — are very small and can take the form of film canisters or magnetic key holders. Other geocaches can be much larger, including all shapes and sizes of plastic, waterproof containers.
The “treasure" found in geocaches usually doesn't take the form of valuable items. Instead, the “treasure" is often a miscellaneous variety of cheap plastic toys and gizmos that kids like to play with. One of the rules of geocaching is that treasure should be traded. So if you find a geocache, you're welcome to take a treasure if you leave something of equal or greater value.
Geocaches also contain a logbook, so you can record the fact that you found it. You're welcome to leave any comments you want for the person who hid it. After finding a geocache, you must hide it back exactly the way you found it, so others can have the same experience you did.
There are several websites that list geocaches you can find. Most websites allow you to search for geocaches in a particular area, such as near your home. Once you find a list of geocaches in your area, all you need to do is input their coordinates into your GPS-enabled device and set out to search for them.
After finding several geocaches, you can return to the website where you learned about them and record your find online. This lets the hider know that you found the geocache and what you liked or did not like about it. Eventually, geocachers who enjoy the sport begin to hide geocaches of their own for others to find.
Geocaching got its start back in May 2000. Before that time, use of GPS satellites was limited to military and other special uses. On May 2, 2000, however, GPS access was expanded to the general public.
Dave Ulmer, a GPS enthusiast, decided to test out the accuracy of the newly-available system by hiding a five-gallon bucket of “treasures" in the woods and posting the coordinates online. Other GPS enthusiasts soon found his “GPS Stash" and geocaching was off and running!
Today, there are over two million geocaches hidden all over the world. Curious about what might be hidden near your home? Try it out! If you're ready for a fun, high-tech, outdoor adventure, grab a few friends and family members and go geocaching!