Geocaching January: Geo-what?

January 2nd, 2012 by Sandy Barker

Students explore the contents of a geocache after discovering the location of this hidden treasure.

Geocaching is the world’s most popular hobby that no one knows about. It is likely that you know someone who regularly geocaches and the growth of the game is largely fuelled by word-of-mouth.

Geocaching is an outdoor adventure game, with an online and real-world presence. The general concept is that someone chooses an outdoor location and hides a container. He or she then posts the coordinates on Geocaching.com and other geocachers upload the information they need to find the geocache into a hand-held GPS device or smart phone, and then seek out the geocache. Each cache contains, at minimum, a logbook, which a successful finder will sign before replacing the geocache where they found it for the next person to find. Caches often contain trinkets to swap and trackable items that geocachers can move to the next geocache on behalf of someone else. You can learn more about the game of geocaching on Geocaching.com.

Importantly, geocaching is a cross-curricular activity that can be tailored for all ages and learning styles. The geocaches range in difficulty and complexity; there are easy to find geocaches on gentle terrain, as well as complex puzzle caches that are solved in the field, and hard to find geocaches hidden on difficult terrain – and every range in between. Geocaching is a great activity to use with students as a part of a class fieldtrip, an after-school club, or as an informal outdoor education activity.

When students go from viewing the online content to finding a geocache they are engaging in the following learning areas: reading and comprehension, problem-solving, leadership and group work, outdoor education, geography, and mathematics and spatial awareness. There is also the potential for seeking geocaches in a historically or geologically-significant location. Add in the fun-factor and this is an activity that will intrigue and delight students of any age.

Additional aspects of geocaching that are particularly popular with educators are trackable items and CITO – Cache in Trash Out. Trackable items are owned by a geocacher and set out into the world with a specific mission. Other geocachers move these items from geocache to geocache. Classes across the world have trackable races where 2 or more groups each set a trackable’s mission and then ‘race’ to see which trackable accomplishes their mission first. This is usually a long-term project and students track the progress on Geocaching.com.

CITO, Cache in Trash Out, is a way in which our geocaching community members give back to the wider community. During these events, geocachers meet to clear a piece of land of trash, to build trails, or to assist in some other environmental project. These events are usually run in coordination with a city council or land management agency.

Teachers and administrators who are interested in incorporating geocaching into the classroom will want to visit our Geocaching and Education page. Here you will find a collation of introductory resources, a link to the Geocaching and Education forums where teachers share ideas and lesson plans, and instructions for creating a one-off geocaching event.

If you have additional questions, you are welcome to contact our Community Relations team at contact@groundspeak.com.

Sandy Barker is the Community Relations Manager at Groundspeak Inc.

3 Comments »

  1. Great blog post and article! I’ve been geocaching now for five years and would just like to add that I love the comradery between geocachers. In my experience I have never come across a fellow cacher that there was not instant fellowship and friendship. Thank you for Groundspeak – geocahing.com and for keeping our sport alive!

    Comment by TroyTrojans (Geocaching Name) — January 4, 2012 @ 8:05 pm

  2. Thanks for your comment Troy! I agree, Sandy contributed a great blog and we appreciate your feedback. Be sure to check out our other Geocaching January blogs. They will be posted here: http://blog.baybackpack.com/ We already have another geocaching blog talking about the Star-Spangled Banner Geotrail: http://blog.baybackpack.com/?p=2066

    Comment by Sarah — January 10, 2012 @ 10:19 am

  3. [...] join the search for geocaches and the growing community of urban explorers and outdoor adventurers! What is geocaching? It is basically an outdoor scavenger hunt using GPS units and coordinates (or a cellular devise [...]

    Pingback by Apps for Education: Experience the Chesapeake! » Bay Backpack Blog — November 25, 2013 @ 7:03 am

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