[heading]by Tara Pritchett [/heading]

Treasure hunting doesn’t have to be pretend or only something you would see on the big screen. Today, over five million people around the world in over 100 countries on all seven continents are seeking treasures through geocaching according to geocaching.com, an official global GPS cache hunt site.

Geocaching, a derivation of the outdoor sporting activity of Geotrekking, is a real-world, outdoor treasure hunting game using GPS-enabled devices. Participants navigate to a specific set of GPS coordinates and attempt to find the geocache (container) hidden at that location.

After almost 12 years of activity, there are close to two million active geocaches published on various websites. The only necessities to participate are a GPS device or a GPS-enabled mobile phone so you can navigate to the cache. One popular website (www.Geocaching.com) takes you through the process from getting started to logging your findings in eight easy steps.

  1. Register – A Basic Membership on www.Geocaching.com is free and requires only a valid email address and your name to create an account.
  2. Visit the “Hide & Seek a Cache” page.
  3. Enter your zip code and click “search.”
  4. Choose any geocache from the list and click on its name.
  5. Enter the coordinates of the geocache into your GPS Device.
  6. Use your GPS device to assist you in finding the hidden geocache. A typical cache is a small waterproof container containing a logbook where the geocacher enters the date they found it and signs it with their established code name. Larger containers such as plastic storage containers can also contain items for trading, usually toys or trinkets of little value.
  7. Sign the logbook and return the geocache to its original location. If you take something from the geocaches, leave something of equal or greater value.
  8. Share your geocaching stories and photos online.

Geocaches can be found all over the world and creativity has been instrumental in keeping the sport active. When researching where to start your hunt, remember that geocachers tend to hide caches in locations that are important to them, reflecting a special interest or skill of the cache owner. (Locations could vary from your local park, at the end of a long trek, on the side of a city street or even underwater.)

The hobby of geocaching has sparked boundless opportunities for adventure in your own backyard. You have the answer next time you hear “Where shall we go?” Go outside and find a Geocache. This family friendly, outdoor activity will optimize your time together while having fun, getting exercise and taking in the fresh air. Who knows, this new found hobby, may lead you to that treasure you have been hunting for.