Are you looking for a fun way to explore the outdoors? Have you heard of geocaching? It’s a worldwide activity with many thousands of community members participating in hundreds of countries. People hide containers called caches and then share the GPS coordinates with others, who then use their own GPS devices to try to find them afterward. It’s like a treasure hunt, but instead of gold or jewels, you find trinkets, notes, or other small items left behind by previous seekers.
Recently, a group at Power To Be decided to spend a day geocaching at Beaver Lake in Victoria. Britt McLeod and Simon Parr, the program leaders, downloaded the Geocaching® App to their phones, which uses satellites to track caches, and gave each program participant a chance to try. Simon explains, “Geocaching is something we’ve done for a long time at Power To Be.”
Britt says, “the caches are all named different, fun things, with funny hints and clues,” and explains that as you follow the GPS, it tells you how many metres away you are from the cache. Once you get close to it, you can start searching. Britt says, “sometimes there are really creative and fun hiding spots, like under roots or up in trees!” Simon adds, “sometimes the caches are even in the water or very tiny: you might walk by hundreds of them a day and not even know it.”
Simon explains, “in the cache is a logbook explaining how long it’s been there and how many people have found it. There are often trinkets or souvenirs inside that you can trade.” He continues, “sometimes you see a name that you know in the logbook – maybe you find a friend or a family member.” He says that Power To Be often leaves branded buttons or pins in the caches: afterward, sometimes program participants find them and are so happy to see that we’ve been there. He also says that a really interesting type of geocache is the International Currency Exchange, of which there are many locations. They are full of money from all over the world that seekers can look at and trade.
If you’re interested in geocaching but don’t know where to start, don’t worry! It’s easy to get into geocaching as a beginner. The first thing you’ll need is a GPS device or a smartphone with GPS capabilities. Then, visit a geocaching website or download a geocaching app to find caches near your location. Many of them are rated for accessibility and difficulty.
Remember to dress comfortably for the weather and bring along some water and snacks when you go, and consider inviting some friends for safety. While geocaching you may need to go “off trail”, so please respect nature and look out for garbage or other hazards. Also, from March onwards, it’s tick season in B.C., so after any adventure in the forest, you should check for small black insects on your body and clothing. If you find a tick on your body, contact a medical care provider.
Start with easy caches and work your way up to more difficult ones as you gain experience. Once you find a cache, write your name in the logbook and take a souvenir if there’s one available. Make sure to leave something behind for the next geocacher. Always be respectful of the cache and the environment around it.
Geocaching is a fun and adventurous way to explore the outdoors and connect with a community of like-minded people. Don’t be afraid to start small and work your way up to more challenging caches. Happy hunting!