Written by Guest Blogger Shelley Riimand
Back in July 2008, a friend of ours introduced us to an outdoor activity called, “Geocaching” (pronounced Geo-cashing). He had just learned about it and thought we should look into it, and as they say . . . the rest is history.
We spent time researching this activity through the website www.geocaching.com, where we learned that geocaching is referred to as the fastest growing outdoor recreational activity in the world, with over 15 million participants in over 200 countries.
The basic premise is that we can go to www.geocaching.com, plug in the name of a city or town, choose the name of a specific geocache hidden in that area, load the longitude and latitude coordinates into our GPS unit, and then go out and search for it. Another option would be to download a geocaching app to our smartphone and select a geocache from the list of geocaches that pop up in the area.
Usually, geocaches are waterproof containers that have been hidden with tradable items or S.W.A.G. (stuff we all get) inside. Once we find the container we sign the logbook and replace the container as we found it. Then, when we get home we log back into www.geocaching.com to record our find. This last step actually enables us to communicate with the owner of the geocache and describe our experience as we searched for and found the geocache.
We discovered that geocaching is the perfect outdoor activity because it encourages people of all ages to experience exercise and fresh air as part of a year-round activity.
We took out a basic membership and purchased a recreational, hand-held GPS unit. It didn’t take us long to learn how to use our GPS, because we geocached often. We learned that this activity took us to so many interesting places, places we didn’t know existed except for the fact that we were directed to that area while searching for a geocache.
It has been 10 years now, and we are still enjoying geocaching as much as we did when we first began. Although we geocache year round, our favourite season for geocaching is during the Fall when the leaves are changing colours.
Our geocaching adventures have helped us learn more about the world in which we live. We have discovered historical places, interesting geographical features, beautiful trails, and scenic lookouts. We have visited museums, science centres and historic ruins, and all because we were searching for nearby geocaches.
We have also found geocaching to be a nice distraction and a great stress release from the busy work-a-day world. Geocaching along a quiet country road or hiking along a scenic wooded trail has made for a refreshing end to a tough day.
Remember, “It’s the journey, not the destination.” So . . . get off the couch, grab a GPS or smartphone and head outdoors! There is a whole world just waiting to be discovered!
Shelley Riimand has taught at the elementary school level for over 25 years, with a focus on life sciences, social studies, and physical education. Inspired by her passion for geocaching and the many opportunities it presents for hands-on education, she launched Geocaching Unlimited (www.geocachingunlimited.com) - an innovative organization that introduces geocaching as an engaging outdoor educational experience for everyone.