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Written by Lucy S., Sprout Contributor

Geocaching came to the scene in 2000; its original name was “GPS Stash Hunt.” It is an activity that connects the environment with technology. The combination of Earth, hiding, and technology made geocaching an excellent term for this activity.

The prefix geo, for Earth, was used to describe the global nature of the activity. Caching, from the word cache, has two different meaning, which makes it very appropriate for the activity. A French word invented in 1797, the original definition referred to a hiding place someone would use to temporarily store items. The word cache stirs up visions of pioneers, gold miners, and even pirates. Today the word is still used in the news to describe hidden weapons locations.

The second use if cache has more recently been used in technology. Memory cache is computer storage that is used to quickly retrieve frequently used information. Your web browser, for example, stores images on disk so you don’t have to retrieve the same image every time you visit similar pages.

Now that you have a little knowledge of the word. and know how it came to be, what is geocaching and how can do you do it? Well, it’s as easy as 1-2-3.

1. Research:
The adventure starts indoors at your computer. Search for a geocache online (Geocaching.com), type the coordinates into your GPS, and head off to that destination.

2. Safety tips:

  • Be prepared: Go with a friend (or tell someone) especially if you are hiking in a wooded area.
  • Pack a pack: bring your GPS, a compass, map, extra batteries, clothing, food and water. It could take a few hours.

3. The Hunt:
Before you leave your car (or a well marked trail) mark your starting location as your waypoint, so that you know where to return. Some “caches” are cleverly hidden so look for an unnatural pile of rocks, around tree stumps, under leaves, etc.

4. The Actual Find:
Congratulations! You found it! Look around, enjoy the view, sign and date the log sheet, and trade items. Make sure that you leave the cache as you found it, and make sure it is sealed properly.

5. The Report:
When you get home, log back on to the website and share your experience with others.

Geocaching can be a great family experience! You can let your child teach you about technology, and then you can teach your child some good old fashion outside fun. There is one local cacher who has found over 100 caches to date. For more information, visit www.geocaching.com.