Geocaching: The Coolest Scavenger Hunt You’ll Ever Do

You walk on this street every day, but today you have a purpose. With iPhone in hand, you check your compass on your Geocaching app and take a few steps forward, then a few steps back. When you’re within 10 feet of your target, you start examining spaces in signs, the branches of the tree, nooks in the building.

You finally find it: a small box with some free stickers and a logbook. You sign your name and look at all the other names of people who found the box. You take a picture and post it on the site, browsing through pictures of smiling strangers standing on the same street as you.

You’re geocaching, an activity that allows you to explore the real world and engage with an online community. Anyone can get involved, but it’s especially fun for adventurous collegiettes like you and your friends!

What is Geocaching?

Geocaching is an international, GPS-based scavenger hunt organized through the official geocaching website. Anyone can look up clues online and find surprise items (usually in the form of a container, such as a film canister or a box) left by other people who use the website. These items, called geocaches, can be anything from a fake hollow bird to a large plastic container. They’ll always contain a logbook so you can record that you found it, and sometimes they contain little gifts you can keep, such as pins, toys and even gift cards. Geocaches can be anywhere, but they’re typically in places that are public but oftentimes ignored, like highway signs near rest stops, or places where you might have to do a little adventuring, like going on hiking trails

Geocaching started in 2000 as a way to test the accuracy of a new GPS signal. Dave Ulmer, a man from Oregon, hid a bucket filled with items like software and videos and posted the location online. Mike Teague, a man from Washington, was the first to find it and post his experience online. Shortly after, Geocaching.com was founded as a way to record and track geocaches. Since then, about 4 million people have gotten involved in hiding and finding 1.4 million geocaches around the world.

Here’s a video that sums it up pretty well:

What many people like most about geocaching is the strong sense of community among users of the website. The camaraderie amongst geocachers is so strong they often leave gifts for strangers in the geocaches. Geocachers have even developed their own slang.  Fans of Harry Potter will recognize the word “muggle,” which in the geocaching world refers to people who don’t geocache (by the end of this article, you’ll know how to stop being a muggle!). Geocachers also use abbreviations, including things like “TFTC” (“Thanks For The Cache), FTF (“First to Find”) and DNF (“Did Not Find”). People post comments on the website so you can see what other people were thinking while they were searching.  Once you find the geocache (or before, if you don’t mind spoilers), you can even see pictures of people finding the geocache and upload your own.

One more thing: make sure you say “geocaching” right when you tell your friends about it. It’s pronounced: “geo cashing.” (In case you were wondering—yes, it’s a real word. Merriam-Webster added it to its dictionary in 2012!)