Summer’s over and by now you’ve probably grown tired of Pokémon Go. But you still enjoy getting outside and you’re looking for a little adventure… If that’s the case, then you should give Geocaching a try.
For those unfamiliar with Geocaching, it’s a world-wide outdoor treasure hunt that anyone can join. There are over 2 million caches hidden around the world, just waiting for you to come and find them.
We’re very lucky here in Durham Region, as there’s a high concentration of Geocaches – in fact there’s a very good chance there are caches within walking distance of where you live!
“What do I need to get started?”
In order to get involved all you need is a gps-enabled device and a sense of adventure. Simply visit www.geocaching.com and sign up for a free account. This will allow you to view all of the hidden caches within a particular geographic area. A quick search under “Oshawa” led to over 950 hits ranging from Pickering to Bowmanville – plenty to keep the avid explorer occupied for quite some time.
“But what exactly is a cache?”
It’s simply a container that’s hidden at a particular set of geographic coordinates. Some are very small “micro” caches which are just big enough for a log book you can sign, and others are larger containers which hold tradeable trinkets and special items you may be lucky enough to come across. Each cache has a difficulty and terrain rating from one to five, which lets you know how difficult it will be to find, and warns you if the location is more physically challenging so you can decide whether it’s right for you or not. There’s also a legend of “attributes” for each location, which gives you a more detailed idea of what to expect – is the location child and/or pet friendly, is it accessible during the winter, is there parking nearby, is it accessible by bike and so on. Many caches are family friendly and easily accessible so it’s a great activity to enjoy together – kids, parents, grandparents – who doesn’t love the idea of finding hidden treasure?
“What do I do once I find a cache?”
First of all, give yourself a pat on the back! Even the easiest caches are fun and it’s exciting when you locate them – so make sure to take a moment to congratulate yourself and anyone with you. Next, you can sign the log book (it’s a good idea to bring your own pen in order to do so), and trade small trinkets if the cache is big enough to hold them. The rule for this is simple – if you take something from a cache, leave something of equal or greater value in its place. Common items include keychains, pins, buttons, small trinket toys, and stickers. Occasionally you may get lucky and find special trackable items like Travel Bugs. You can read more about those special travelling Geocaching game pieces here: https://www.geocaching.com/guide/.
Once you’re done, seal the container back up and put it back exactly as you found it. You are also encouraged to log your find (or failure to find!) on the Geocaching website – this provides useful info to other searchers, and to the owner of the cache that it may have been lost or damaged. Plus it’s fun to be an active part of the Geocaching community in this simple way.
“What if I want more of a challenge?”
First off, you can look for sites with higher difficulty levels, or that require special equipment to find, such as scuba or climbing gear – all of these details are listed in the attribute section. In addition to searching for harder locations, there are also caches which involve complicated puzzles which you must solve in order to obtain the coordinates and multi-caches which involve two or more locations – each stage of the cache gives you a clue to find the next one. And of course after you’ve got the hang of things, you can always try creating your own cache for others to find. Just visit the website for details on how to do this and log it online.
With new caches and challenges appearing on a regular basis, there’s always something new and fun to find. So the next time you feel like a bit of an adventure, or just have a hankering for a few hours enjoying the outdoors, grab your phone or gps, visit geocaching.com and let the journey begin!
About the Author
Leigh Gibbens grew up in Oshawa. After several years in foreign locales (Kingston, Montreal and Toronto), she moved back after starting her own family. She plays many important roles in her daily life including freelance copywriter and project coordinator, wife and mom, community volunteer, student, household CEO, and most recently – What’s On Oshawa contributor. Leigh loves to attend community activities of all sorts and can often be spotted with various family members in tow at events around Oshawa.