GeoCaching

Old Nov 10th 2009, 10:30 am
  #1  
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Default GeoCaching

Is anybody else in to GeoCaching? (see www.geocaching.com).

We've recently started doing it and are using it as a way of getting us to parts of New Zealand that we wouldn't necessarily visit on our day-to-day travels.

This is how I explained it to my four year old...
There's this special club... the people in this club hide little treasure boxes all around the world... they then give you clues as to where their treasure boxes are and you have to go and find them.

When you find a treasure box, you have to write in the owners diary telling them, who you are, where you're from and how much you enjoyed searching for their treasure... you're then allowed to take something out of the treasure box, but you must put something in to the treasure box too! When you're finished, you then have to hide the treasure box again so that a muggle (a person who doesn't know about GeoCaching) doesn't find the treasure box and break/steal it.
In reality the treasure boxes (or "cache's" as they're referred to) are (mainly) the equivalent of tupperware boxes containing a log book and a few trinkets (which can range from kids toys, to key rings, or, well... just about anything that was small enough to fit, that someone thought was vaguely interesting and/or would be vaguely interesting to someone who found the cache).

The clues, are that the GPS co-ordinates of the cache's are published online, along with a description of the cache, and possibly additional hints in terms of how/where to locate it.

The cache's themselves can even be clues leading you to a further cache which can result in a "treasure hunt" across a particular area or city etc .

There's also things called travel bugs, that are basically an item that someone has placed in a cache with a particular goal in mind... this could, for example be to travel around the world, or visit a particular country etc... the goal is carried out by the people who find the item in the cache... e.g. if the travelbug's goal is to travel around the world in a westerly direction, the person finding it would take it to another more westerly cache before leaving it for someone else to pick up who will in turn assist it on its journey/goal.

When you find a cache, as well as writing something in the cache log-book, you visit the web-page of that cache to let the owner know you found it (or didn't, or that it needs repairing etc etc) and leave notes about what you thought about the cache's location... e.g. they're often in unusual, beautiful, special, historical or generally just simply 'interesting' locations that you wouldn't necessarily normally come across.

When you find a travel bug, you go to the travelbug's webpage to log the fact that you found it and in turn log where you put it back down again... this then allows you (and the owner of the bug) to track it's progress on it's journey, even via Google maps showing the journey it took etc.

We started doing it just over a week ago and so far have found 13 cache's (in some wonderful locations that we'd never have found otherwise) and two travel bugs... we're using just my blackberry phone and some free GPS tracking software... it all sounded a bit geeky to us at first but it's really good fun and we're finding that it's an excellent way of exploring areas of this beautiful country that we're trying to forge a life in.

It's not necessarily about the "treasure" - this is however an excellent way of getting the kids involved - it's more about the getting out and about, exploring areas you potentially didn't even know existed... hell there's even some cache's around our old home in the UK that we've probably walked and driven past hundreds of times!

If you're not already doing it, I'd recommend it to you all!
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Old Nov 10th 2009, 9:22 pm
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Default Re: GeoCaching

Sounds great fun. Do you have to have a GPS thingy?
We haven't that, nor a laptop /blackberry.
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Old Nov 11th 2009, 1:40 am
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Talking Re: GeoCaching

How else do you intend to navigate? By the stars?

Yes, I suppose you could use trig points but after changing your angle by the time you set up and did the calculations again you would realise that your life was just more worthwhile. Basic GPS units are cheap pet, take the easy route!
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Old Nov 11th 2009, 8:00 am
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Default Re: GeoCaching

This is looking like an interesting option for the long summer school hols coming up - I can see my 10 and 7 year old enjoying this a few times. Thanks for the link! BEVS - have a look on the site and put in your location - when I did it seems there are a few local to me that one wouldn't need GPS - coz I don't have any of that fandangled techno stuff either!
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Old Nov 11th 2009, 8:32 am
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Default Re: GeoCaching

Originally Posted by BEVS View Post
Sounds great fun. Do you have to have a GPS thingy?
We haven't that, nor a laptop /blackberry.
Originally Posted by Am Loolah View Post
This is looking like an interesting option for the long summer school hols coming up - I can see my 10 and 7 year old enjoying this a few times. Thanks for the link! BEVS - have a look on the site and put in your location - when I did it seems there are a few local to me that one wouldn't need GPS - coz I don't have any of that fandangled techno stuff either!

You *can* do it without a GPS device... e.g. look on the Google maps of cache's on the geocaching.com site to find one in an area you know and then walk/drive to it.

Each Cache will normally include helpful clues as to the exact position of the cache... but... some are cryptic, or at least not quite as helpful as you'd often want them to be.

Consider that (if done correctly) the GPS unit (even if that's software running on your mobile phone, providing of course your phone has a built in GPS receiver) will normally get you to within a metre (or two) of the exact location of the cache, thereby potentially narrowly reducing your area to search (and the disappointment - with kids especially - of not finding it).

The very first one we tried to find we did without GPS... try as we might we just couldn't find it anywhere but we were both convinced that we'd followed the clue correctly in how it mentioned it was near the start of a favoured walking track... we were at the start of the walking track... the clue made reference to two trees growing from the same hole... there weren't any trees in the immediate vicinity of the start of the walking track... so, I sent the boys and the wife to paddle in the nearby stream whilst I downloaded GPS software to my phone (BlackStar software for the Blackberry if anyone's interested is really quite good and FREE too!)... a short while later, using the GPS co-ordinates published by the Cache owner we were on our way, almost 900m further down the road (away from the start of the walking track) to where the cache was and after a few minutes of searching we found it.

By all means try to do it without GPS if you wish, but it's much much more pleasant to have the GPS facility to hand, believe me!

On the geocaching.com site they mention this device: http://shop.groundspeak.com/productD...&ProductID=182 as a good starter device... it's US$69.99 which by my reckoning would make it around NZ$100

Personally, I'm going to continue to use my Blackberry for a while as it's sufficient for the job, but I'm a little bit of a technophobe and have currently got my eyes on this beauty: https://buy.garmin.com/shop/shop.do?pID=14904, but at around GBP300, it'll have to wait for a while as I have an emigration to pay for right now!!

Am Loolah... as for the kids, if they don't enjoy it I'll be VERY surprised!

It's interesting with our two... (remember they're 4yrs and 2yrs), because the 4yr old is really in to the "hunt" (and keeping it secret from "muggles" - even so far as shouting DADDY THE MUGGLES ARE COMING at the top of his voice before telling us how we should stand whilst announcing "We're NOT looking for treasure" to them as they pass by ), but not so fussed about the contents, whilst the 2yr old doesn't really comprehend the hunt, but is usually fascinated by these random boxes of little toys that we keep finding

Last edited by thedtb; Nov 11th 2009 at 8:39 am.
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Old Nov 12th 2009, 4:23 am
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Default Re: GeoCaching

Well -we set off on our first treasure hunt! Me, 10 and 7 year olds. It was very exciting and pretty easy to be honest - but I thought it best to start with an easy one and just 5 minutes up the road from home! The 7 year old found it and was sooo pleased with herself! Then the 10 year old wrote in the log book that he had found it ... cut to the usual family outing old time favourite of fighting, arguing and sulking ... followed by mum vowing never to take them out in daylight again ... All ok now and they want to go off lookng for another tomorrow after school!

I think you may have started something!
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Old Nov 12th 2009, 4:32 am
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Default Re: GeoCaching

Originally Posted by Am Loolah View Post
Well -we set off on our first treasure hunt! Me, 10 and 7 year olds. It was very exciting and pretty easy to be honest - but I thought it best to start with an easy one and just 5 minutes up the road from home! The 7 year old found it and was sooo pleased with herself! Then the 10 year old wrote in the log book that he had found it ... cut to the usual family outing old time favourite of fighting, arguing and sulking ... followed by mum vowing never to take them out in daylight again ... All ok now and they want to go off lookng for another tomorrow after school!

I think you may have started something!
Excellent, I'm glad all was well in the end!

Send me your GeoCaching username and I'll add you as a friend... that is of course if you *want* to be friends. :-)
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