What is Geocaching?
Geocaching is the modern outdoor treasure hunt game that is both educational and entertaining for friends and family. It’s time to give it a try at the lake!
The Geocaching Basics
Participants use a GPS (Global Positioning System) receiver or mobile device to help them locate a hidden target item. The prize is often located in a difficult-to-find place, which for cottagers could be on an island or somewhere in the woods around the cabin.
Here is a handheld GPS unit used for geocaching along with an example of a geocache kit.
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The GPS coordinates of the “geocache” or “cache” are provided by the organizer and the players or teams use their navigation skills to find it. Normally, the item being searched for is a waterproof container which protects a small log book and a pencil. Successful geocachers who find the item will record their names and the date they located the geocache. The container may also hold small items which can be exchanged.
For cottage or cabin owners and renters, geocaching is a great way to pass the time and teach the family important navigation skills.
Tips for Beginner Geocachers
The first step in setting up a cottage geocache is to teach all of the participants how to correctly use a GPS receiver. Take a day or two to use the handheld GPS to map out the cottage property, or certain well known landmarks on your lake.
Once everyone is comfortable using the device, you can hide your first geocache. In the beginning, keep the cache easy to find and placed in a location that is well known to all of the participants and close to the cabin.
Always have the geocachers work in teams of at least two people. For safety reasons, no one should ever be alone.
Carry safety kits and extra batteries, watch the weather, and always stay together. As with hiking and boating around the cottage, it is important to take all the required safety precautions.
Begin the game early in the day. Participants should be able to locate the cache and get back to the cabin well before sunset.
Respect private property. Ensure that participants only have to cross your property or crown land to locate the geocache.
Be mindful of you impact on the environment. Don’t place caches in areas where geocachers will risk damaging sensitive natural habitats.
Ensure that everyone leaves the area exactly as they found it. In fact, you can incorporate garbage pick-ups and other environment improvement activities into the game.
Geocaching for Large Cottager Groups
Geocaching is great for weekend reunions, group retreats, or even the entire cottage community at your lake. Place numbered cards into the geocache container. Instruct the participants to remove the cards in the order that they find them. The first team who finds the cache removes and returns card number one. Team two then takes card number two, etc. Prizes can be awarded at the end of the day for the top teams.
Once everyone is comfortable using the GPS receivers to find a single cache, you can begin to set up a multi-cache game. Each cache contains the coordinates for the following cache until the final geocache is located. Depending on the area you have available for the game and the competency of the participants, you can set up as many caches as your time permits.
A puzzle or code can be introduced to the game so that participants have to figure out the coordinates of the geocache box. The puzzles can be located at each stage, or only for decoding the location of the final cache.
When creating the puzzles, make sure that each team is capable of deciphering them correctly. To ensure that everyone gets the proper coordinates, make each team check in at the cabin to confirm that they have the correct coordinates before searching for the next geocache.