By Sid Nair
Geocaching has a long history, but has become increasingly popular in the last decade or so. For a variety of reasons it is more accessible today than ever. It is easier to start, and easier to prepare for, and as a result more people are geocaching today than ever. If you find geocaching interesting, but don't know where to start, we've provided the following guide.
What is a GPS?
A global positioning system (GPS) is a means of ensuring you know where you are at all times, which can be very valuable when geocaching. It is a system comprised of 24 satellites and can tell you your latitude and longitude at any time. Knowing this information can help you find your way if you are lost. In a worst case scenario, it can allow you to tell rescue personnel where you are if you are unable to make your way to safety.
What is Geocaching?
Geocaching is something of a real-world treasure hunt, and is in large part what you make of it. The challenge can be anything from a simple stroll to an expert-level hike, and the rewards can be whatever your fellow geocachers deem fit. Essentially, geocaching uses GPS to tell geocachers where a geocache (a container with a trinket of some sort inside) is located. Geocachers then try to find the geocache, which will also give you a logbook, or way of indicating that you found the geocache. At the end of the day, geocaching is a real-world treasure hunt!
Basics and Guides
The first thing any new geocacher needs to do is register. There are some essential communities, linked below, that will help. The thing about geocaching is that it relies on its community. Without it, geocaching would be impossible, as it is a community-driven activity. Next, you'll have to get a GPS, at which point you can tell the communities you registered with what your zip is and you will find out what geocaches are near you.
What you need next really depends on what you are looking to get out of geocaching. If you are simply looking for a reason to get out and get some fresh air, and you're not looking for a challenge, you simply need a decent pair of shoes and the GPS on your phone. If, however, you are looking for a challenge, you should invest in some good hiking boots and other hiking gear in order to ensure you have everything you need to enjoy geocaching and stay safe while doing so.
As we stated earlier, geocaching could not exist without its community. It's not as though there is some governmental body leaving geocaches out for a consuming public. Geocaching is about enthusiasts maintaining their own community. Enthusiasts helping enthusiasts. There are national organizations as well as hyper-local organizations, and a simple online search should help you find any of them. Not only will geocaching organizations help you find geocaches, but they will also match you up with other geocachers. This can be extremely valuable to new geocachers who are just getting their feet wet, and extremely rewarding for experienced geocachers looking to share their wealth of knowledge.
One of the best aspects of geocaching is that there is always more to learn. The community is always growing, and as such there are always more geocaches to find. There are organizations being founded all the time, and if there aren't enough near you it is simple enough to create one yourself. If you are looking for any more information, we've provided some links below.
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