What is Geocaching? My latest total geek out obsession and karma builder.

Treasure Hunt

Geocaching is a worldwide treasure hunting game that anyone can play. Kids LOVE it! (So do adults.)

Download the app on your phone, which becomes your GPS device. Join geocaching.com, which is $10 very well spent. This hobby is apparently only for people who have totally given in to the NSA already knowing where your phone is. I thought briefly about getting rid of my smart phone recently, but that was before I picked up a healthy addiction to this new treasure hunting hobby. If you don’t have a smart phone, you can use any GPS device from what I understand.

To set up your account, go to the website on your computer and pick a cool name that you might just have for the rest of your life. You can always change it, however.

Educational Fun for all ages

My first geocache (GC) hunt was with my 11 year old friend, Gabe. I wasn’t really aware of what we were doing. He was just staring at his phone and walking toward the center of a field, saying things like, “It’s supposed to be 16 feet from here. It’s supposed to be right here.” I didn’t even know what was going on, but I looked down and saw a brick with a film canister stuck in it. The kids called out, “Miss Betsy found it!” We opened it up and inside was a rolled up pad of paper which had been signed by many people. We didn’t have a pen with us, so we just rolled it back up and placed it back just as we had found it. I had found my first cache.


That translates from GC slang to “Took something, left something. Signed log.” The best caches are the ones that are big enough to house prizes. The etiquette is that if you take something, you should leaves something of equal or greater value. It’s usually little toys, but you never know what you’re going to find. So take a pen with you and a pocket full of little tradables, just in case you come across something you can’t live without.

Travel bugs or Trackables are a blast when you are traveling

Our favorite thing on our recent trip  was to locate TBs – travel bugs or trackables. Before you leave on a trip and while you are traveling, pick up a few of these in some local caches. Be sure to log them. That means entering the unique tracking ID in your GC app, and logging that you picked it up and where. The bugs always have a mission. We  picked up one from the UK which is in a race to make it back by going the longest distances possible. We picked up one from Germany that’s been traveling for over 2 years. It’s mission it just to get back home. We picked up one from California whose mission is simply to travel and land as many places as possible. We traded that one for one that had just started in France 3 weeks prior as a D-day commemorative and has the mission to travel through all of the countries that were affected by WWII. There are over 2 million geocaches all over the world. You can even start your own cache and look after it.

You are a muggle

Geocaching has borrowed the term “muggle” from the Harry Potter series, in which it means people without magic. In GCing it means non-geocachers. Muggles see you when you’re poking around looking for something and it can be a little strange, but they are usually harmless. Now and then a cache gets muggled, or stolen or destroyed by an unwitting muggle. Once you are a Geocacher, you’re no longer a muggle.

The Karma of caching

Geocaching provides a fabulous opportunity to build up good karma. The entire phenomenon is on the honor system. If you take something, leave something better. If the log inside the cache is in tatters, leave a new one. If you pick up a TB, be sure to move it toward its destination and be responsible about it. Leaving cool things for someone you don’t know is really a lot of fun.

Geocachers are characters

We’ve ended up in several cemeteries, and once we found the “John Candy cache.” It was behind a tombstone with the surname of “Candy.” Some caches are hard to find, others are easy. Some you never find. Some have mysteries involved. Honestly, we’ve pretty much stuck with the standard kind for this early jaunt into geocaching, so I’m sure I’ll be posting again when we get deeper into the game. If you have kids, if you love treasure hunts, if you love getting out and about, and if you don’t already know about Geocaching, you need to check it out.  As homeschoolers, it fits perfectly into our get-out-and-see-the-world lifestyle. My seven-year-old and I are completely hooked.




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  1. Don says

    Betsy, you guys have magic! Love the write-up and introducing this to other people who have yet to see their kids light up at these little daily adventures. We have found both simple and elaborate caches and the memories and conversations continue!


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