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August 17, 2012

Geocaching: A Modern Day Treasure Hunt

Today, let's talk about geocaching, a fun, free, outdoor treasure hunt. Have I piqued your interest? I hope so. If not, jump over to Geocaching.com and watch a quick, two-minute video to learn more about this great recreational activity that's fun for all ages, especially kids. What kid doesn't love a treasure hunt? And want kid doesn't love tromping around a park or a trail, playing, getting dirty, and just having fun outside? Geocaching. It's your family's next favorite activity.

What do you need to begin geocaching? You'll need either a GPS receiver or a GPS-enabled mobile device. If you decide to go the mobile device route, click here for a great article on choosing the right GPS app for your phone. Once you're set up with GPS capabilities, you punch in a specific set of GPS coordinates, then hike, bike, walk, kayak, drive (or run if you're that excited) to the location, and look for the cache, usually a weather-proof container hidden at that location. Usually you'll find a cache register (no pun intended) or log book that you can sign, and small trinkets or treasures. One rule of geocaching is if you take something from the cache, leave something in its place for the next person to find. Put the cache back in its hiding place, and set off on your next hunt.

Geocaches, according to Wiki, can be found in 200 countries and on every continent and the International Space Station. It's estimated that two to three-million people geocache. The first known geocache was placed by Dave Ulmer of Beavercreek, Oregon on May 3, 2000. In a mostly-buried black plastic bucket, Dave included "software, videos, books, food, money, and a slingshot." Within three days, the cache was found twice. Oregon Public Broadcasting's Oregon Field Guide program featured geocaching in a February 2010 episode, and visited the site. A memorial plaque now sits at the actual site, the Original Stash Tribute Plaque.
Geocaching is really simple. You can choose the level of difficulty. Visit Geocaching in Utah to sign up (it's free and fast!) and to learn about all the caches in a city near you. They may be in your local park, on your main street, or along a trail, but most importantly, it gets you outside and gives you a little exercise. And to your kids, there's nothing cooler than a treasure hunt!

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