This seminar will investigate the game of Geocaching. We will look at its history and how it has grown into active communities of millions of geocachers worldwide partaking in this 21st century treasure hunt. We will highlight the problems and benefits that Geocaching has in today's society as well as looking at organisations and communities that have formed as a result of geocaching.
From the beginning of Semester 2 we created a group blog to gather research on Geocaching. This blog can be viewed by clicking the following link:
What is a Geocaching?
Geocaching is a real-world, outdoor treasure hunting game using GPS-enabled devices. Participants navigate to a specific set of GPS coordinates and then attempt to find the geocache (container) hidden at that location.
Geocaching is a game which uses clues and references to landmarks embedded in stories. Geocaching was conceived shortly after the removal of Selective Availability from GPS on May 2, 2000, because the improved accuracy of the system allowed for a small container to be specifically placed and located. The first documented placement of a GPS-located cache took place on May 3, 2000, by Dave Ulmer of Beavercreek, Oregon. The location was posted on the Usenet newsgroup as 45°17.460′N 122°24.800′W. By May 6, 2000, it had been found twice and logged once (by Mike Teague of Vancouver, Washington). According to Dave Ulmer's message, the original stash was a black plastic bucket buried most of the way in the ground and contained software, videos, books, food, money, and a slingshot.
What is a Geocache?
Geocaches vary greatly in size and appearance. In the field you will see everything from large, clear plastic containers to film canisters to a fake rock with a secret compartment. So, how do you find the cache?
The first step is to get a general idea of the cache's size. The size is shown on each cache page. A general overview of the cache size graphic is found below. Please note that these are just examples; sizes can vary.
- Micro - Less than 100ml. Examples: a 35 mm film canister or a tiny storage box typically containing only a logbook or a logsheet. A nano cache is a common sub-type of a micro cache that is less than 10ml and can only hold a small logsheet.
- Small - 100ml or larger, but less than 1L. Example: A sandwich-sized plastic container or similar.
- Regular - 1L or larger, but less than 20L. Examples: a plastic container or ammo can about the size of a shoebox.
- Large - 20L or larger. Example: A large bucket.
- Other - See the cache description for information.
Small, Regular and Large containers typically contain trade items.
What's usually in a cache? In its simplest form, a cache always contains a logbook or logsheet for you to log your find. Larger caches may contain a logbook and any number of items. These items turn the adventure into a true treasure hunt. You never know what the cache owner or visitors to the cache may have left for you to enjoy. Remember, if you take something, leave something of equal or greater value in return. It is recommended that items in a cache be individually packaged in a clear, zipped plastic bag to protect them from the elements.
Quite often you may also find a Trackable, a sort of geocaching "game piece" that you can learn more about here.
Who is Geocaching?
There is currently 5 million active geocachers worldwide with over 1.6 million geocaches placed in 200 countries
Hide and Seek
Hiders - Members of the geocaching community hide and maintain all of the geocaches listed on Geocaching.com. Before considering your first geocache hide, we suggest that you find a variety of caches in your area. Seeing caches in a variety of locations, in different containers and hidden by a variety of users will help you understand what makes a great cache hide. (geocaching.com)
Seekers - There are many things to know about searching for a cache. For instance, did you know that there is a slight "error" to every GPS device due to technological limitations? Your device can get you close to the cache, but there are a number of things to consider as you get closer to the cache location.
When you find the cache, sign the logbook and return it to the cache. You can take an item from the cache if you like - just make sure to leave something of equal or greater value in its place. When you are finished, put the cache back exactly as you found it, even if you think you see a better spot for it. Finally, visit the cache page to log your find and share your experience with others. (geocaching.com)
Benefits and Problems
Within this section we explore the possible benefits and problems that geocachers can experience.
Using GPS and Geocaching in the core curriculum has become a powerful tool in enhancing student understanding of geography, scientific inquiry, math concepts, physical education, problem solving, and language arts. Teachers can plan out waypoints for students to log as part of a larger introduction to how GPS units work.
Geocaching is all supposed to be a bit of fun, where websites direct people to thousands of locations to uncover hidden boxes where they can leave a note or take a souvenir. However one problem with Geocaching is that when hidden packages are found by people unaware or what the game Geocaching is about. It has been common in Britain and throughout Europe that suspicious geocaches were mistakenly reported to police as a suspect package and consequently blown up in a controlled explosion. One of the main points that police highlight, is that if you are hiding a geocache to report your geocache to the authorities, with your name, contact details and the name of the Geocache. It becomes a very costly matter when a bomb squad is called to a location to investigate a suspicious device. This also affects the surrounding community by affecting local business because the shops and houses all have to be evacuated.
Location Difficulty and Vandalism
The idea behind Geocaching is to hide the cache in different location to add to the adventure element of Geocaching. As a result of some of the difficult locations that people have hidden their Geocache, it has created difficulty for those who are seeking. In some incidents, Geocaching hunters have risked their lives to be the first to find a cache, and in some cases, the game has taken lives. In other incidents, the game has created a community of people who are against the idea of the game. This community are called, 'GeoSmachers' and their reason for vandalism is that certain Geocaches are located in inappropriate locations, harming the natural environment of wildlife, or being disrespectful to land owners.
However, Geocaching can't be all bad, considering that although the GeoSmashing community is active, it is small. One incident were Geocaching saved the lives of two when A geocaching box helped a rescue team to find the location of two stranded hillwalkers on January 2008 on Mt. Hood. Stories like these help to promote the idea of Geocaching, especially if it saves lives, or gets one of the house for an afternoon walk.
Geocaching is still a relatively new game which has little study about it. In terms of formal study, there is not much published work apart from the well known study done by Chavez and Schneider. In most of the writings on Geocaching there a strong focus towards the experience that involves looking for the Geocache. However the paper published in CHI 2008 focuses on understanding Geocaching Practices and Motivations (see link below to paper).
Another important element to Geocaching is the Social attraction, what really makes it exciting. This depends particularly on those who are hiding the Geocache to make the experience interesting for those who are seeking, for example for those who are interested in scuba-diving, there are plenty of Geocaches that are hidden off the coast in shallow reefs. What makes Geocaching special is its two way participation to make the game possible. Those who hide, and those who seek. It's the aim of those who are hiding the Geocache to create and experience for those who are Seeking.
Community and Organisations
The biggest and most-used geocaching site on the internet is Geocaching.com. Run by Jeremy Irish and friends out of Seattle Washington, this site is the top hit for many of the Geocaching enthusiasts. The site features many different types of caches. Caches are reviewed and published by hand-picked regional reviewers, who also moderate the site's very busy geocaching discussion forums. The site hosts numerous events and promotions throughout the year, including Cache-in-Trash-Out (CITO) or park-cleanup events, Jeep promotions, and others. The site has the ability to track moving items such as travel bug tags and geo-coins. The look and feel of the site is very slick and polished, with the option for advanced cache hiders to augment their cache listing pages using HTML tags and images. There is no charge for a standard membership. A premium membership is offered, through which cachers can retrieve customized lists of geocaches in desired areas on a periodic basis. Caches are available in GPX or LOC format and of course these work with the GSAK program and other paperless caching tools. www.earthcache.org An offshoot of Geocaching.com that promotes earth science education. These may be located in sensitive areas where a traditional cache would not be appropriate.
This is a Hungarian geocachers website. It belongs to the Association of Hungarian Geocaching officially founded in 2004, whose president is Ferenc Kumin. The site has been developed by Andras Kolesar and it offers a lot of useful tools: easy downloading coordinates, several maps, forums, statistics, poi’s, polls, faq’s and you can even check if the coordinates of your would be cache fall on a restricted area of a national park. The Association is in a constant discussion with the national parks about where caches can be placed. Cachers with English skills are encouraged to translate others’ cache listings and report them on geocaching.com. Still, only about half of the Hungarian caches appear there as well. A secondary aim of the website is to create a virtual guide book of the whole country. So the cache listings have to describe the vicinity of the cache, its history, flora, fauna and trivia at length. A new development of the site is http://www.turistautak.hu, which is aiming at creating a downloadable digital map of all hiking trails (=turistautak) of the country from track logs. It has become a popular and usable map evolving day by day. Now it contains not only hiking trails but roads and streets as well. The Association organizes two main events every year: one in spring the other in autumn. Cachers from all over the country take part in these one day competitions where 15 caches have to be found on foot in a small area before sunset. The first competition was in the spring of 2002 with 42 teams taking part, the tenth in autumn 2006 with 106 teams. Hungarian style geocaching has these peculiarities: To log a find on the website you have to know the codeword of the cache, which appears in the logbook. Moving caches and virtual caches are allowed. You have to find 20 traditional, non-Budapest caches before you are allowed to place one. There are 12 hand picked moderators who have two days to vote on a new cache application. The cache must have four more yes votes than no votes to appear. But on the third day a simple majority of the yes votes is enough for the cache to become public. The moderators are the same people as the members of the Association. So at present there are 12 members only. However anybody can be a supporting member if they pay a small fee of 3000 forint ($15) yearly. Supporting members are allowed to take part in polls and may voice their opinion at the annual assembly. Statistics in April 2007: 1442 caches (out of which 101 are abroad, in neighboring countries), 205,000 logs, 5430 registered users, 306 members and supporting members. Record holders: Freddy, who found 1877 caches (you can find moving caches more than once and there are archived caches too!). MikiCache, who placed 49 caches. First cache in Hungary: 24 June 2001: FakeCastle by Scepticx. Most found cache (882 times): Zero kilometer mark by Tyborg.
- Educaching.com and CachingBox.com have paired up to offer a great curriculum + geocaching package for teachers who are excited about sharing this wonderful sport. In the spirit of Geocaching, Educaching™ is a curriculum that uses GPS technology to create an innovative learning atmosphere. Exciting lesson plans, unique ideas, and helpful strategies that incorporate the national teaching standards provide a road map to make education challenging, rewarding, and fun. Inspired by geocaching, the popular GPS adventure, the Educaching™ curriculum will utilize exciting technology to connect your students with their academics.
- With over three million caches hidden all over the world (according to the Geocaching website), a large user base and an impressive iPhone app, this location-based application is proving to be a great way to promote both online and offline engagement.
National Wildlife Federation (NWF) is exploring the use of geocaching to send their supporters on educational treasure hunts involving everyone’s favorite raccoon, Ranger Rick, insightful clues, and special GPS-trackable objects calledGeocoins. They are currently in the process of piloting two programs aimed at getting families outdoors.
- National Wildlife Federation
- [http://www.nwf.org/get-outside/geocaching-hosts.aspx Ranger Rick’s Geocache Trails］
Free cache database, the second oldest site for posting caches. Based out of Rochester New York, the site, run by PCMedic and Quinn, has a somewhat more lenient policy with regard to the posting of caches than Geocaching.com. Virtuals are encouraged, and moving caches are permitted with some restrictions. The site does not currently have a way to post a Locationless (Reverse Virtual) cache. The flavor of the site tends to be more european, with many German caches being posted, for example. Many cachers got their start on Navicache. The cache data from the site is available for download in GPSS, GPX, or LOC format. Difficulty/Terrain, Logging and viewing of caches is similar to the format and presentation of Geocaching.com, though some geocaching.com users have noted that the interface is a bit more basic with fewer frills. Some cachers list and log their caches on both sites simultaneously, and this practice is encouraged. The caches on the site are fully indexed on Buxley's Maps, and the GPX files produced are usable in GSAK.
A caching website that promotes a quality over quantity focus, and gives members enormous power to decide what types of caches are allowed in their area through a decentralized system of approval and peer review. Quality is measured by the community's rating of each cache on a ten-point scale from "Should be Archived" up to "Superb." Each cache has a quality score (MCE or "Measure of Cache Excellence) which reflects the opinions of the cachers who've rated it. A 10 is a perfect score, and anything 1.0 or below is automatically archived by the system. Finders and placers of caches earn TPS (terracaching point system) points instead of smileys. A drive-up cache would be found frequently so would likely have a low TPS, around 1. A difficult cache on top of a mountain would likely be harder to find an so would earn a higher TPS point value. Terracaching currently supports locationless caches as well, though the scores for Locationless and Traditional caches are figured separately. Far from being an 'elitist' site, Terracaching.com welcomes all cachers who want to place caches that are more challenging than those that can be found elsewhere. Many Terracachers play on other sites as well. To gain access to the site, you must be sponsored by two existing players. These sponsors become your approvers, and you can change approvers any time if you wish. If you don't know two existing players, just post a note in the forum with your City and any other details of your caching history, and you'll receive offers of sponsorship usually within minutes.
A fun caching site featuring a variety of games you can play with your GPS, including geocaching, Geodashing, MinuteWar, Shutterspot, GeoGolf and GeoPoker. It's a collaborative, community effort by and for players who enjoy using a GPS for location-based games. Geocaching - The site lists geocaches for finding and logging. Moderation/Approval is done by your fellow players. Sponsors are not required. All types of caches are welcomed, including virtual caches, moving caches, locationless caches, etc.
- Geodashing - Waypoints (dashpoints) are randomly generated. Each game lasts a month and features of new set of about 30,000 dashpoints, spanning the globe. No place on Earth is too far away from some dashpoint or another (except at the poles). The winner is the player who can navigate to the most dashpoints.
Shutterspot - Players take photographs, then other players try to find the spot where the photographer stood.
- GeoGolf - Players navigate to 18 random waypoints. The closer you get to each waypoint, the lower your score, and just like in golf, low score wins.
MinuteWar - Capture-the-flag. The whole world is the battle field. All players compete against each other no matter where they live. Maps are divided into 1 minute squares of longitude and latitude. Inside each square is a virtual flag. Navigate to the flag to capture it.
- GeoVexilla - Another capture-the-flag variant. At random times, in random places, random virtual flags of countries of the world appear on a map of the world. The challenge is to visit a flag's waypoint before the flag disappears. Each time you succeed, you collect that flag, increasing your score.
- GeoPoker - Players build the best poker hand by being First-to-Find. A GeoPoker game container is deployed in a particular area. Each time the container is found, the finder is given one virtual playing card at random. Each finder chooses the next hiding spot. Games can last days or weeks.
(Coincidentally, the site also hosts a geocaching wiki, as the site encourages community involvement and ownership of the content of the Web site. See GPSwiki)
A listing site for Australian geocachers.It got its start as a geocaching portal and forum site for Australian geocachers. It started listing caches in Jan, 2005. Though the idea of it becoming an independent listing service was long in the works, it took off in part, because of many Aussie's anger at Geocaching.com's response to the Dec. 2004 tsunami disaster. Geocaching.com refused to list caches placed to solicit for organizations involved with tsunami relief, as they felt these caches violated its no solictations rule. Many many people, including a good number of Australians felt the magnitude of the disaster warranted a suspension of the rule. Geocaching Australia is now the second biggest Geocaching site in the Asia-Pacific region and has the most extensive feature set of any geocaching cache listing site.
Resources for the UK Geocaching Community News and Info - for new members UK Stats - stats on UK cachers and caches TrigpointingUK - like Benchmark Hunting there is also a Forum, a Gallery, GIS maps, a Chatroom, event Calendar, GeoWiki and GUK blog -- The GeocacheUK website is owned and maintained by Ian Harris (Teasel), Brian Deegan (Deego) and Barry Hunter (barryhunter).
This community site supports the geocaching community in the greater San Francisco Bay Area, reaches out to new cachers, provides resources to travelers visiting the area, and facilitates a dialog between geocachers and local parks and open space districts.
A Norwegian geocaching community site. (Norwegian and English)
Resources for the Belgian Geocaching Community, in Flemish and French! With a forum, maps, stats, classes, goodies, links, ... and a link to your page on the com.site
Resources for the Portuguese geocaching community and for geocachers visiting Portugal. With a forum, maps, a huge variety of stats, links, and lots of information.
Portugal's Geocaching and Adventure Portal With a forum, articles, and other resources.
The Geocaching Site is a brand new website which contains geocaching news, rules, videos, information and more. It's a great site for novice and experienced geocachers alike.
Everything about geocaching in Lithuania
The Swedish geocaching site.
The first italian geocaching site.
A german Site from Hamburg, Germany with Tipps for Geocaches, Software and news from around Hamburg
The local GeoCaching site for South East Texas. Forums, pictures, and great friends.
The purpose of this website is to promote the sport (game, activity) of geocaching in the Ottawa / Hull region and the surroundings.
Everything about geocaching in Romania
Everything about geocaching in France
Archivos descargables, Tutoriales de Geocaching, Galerias fotográficas, Nuevos Cachés, Reuniones y Eventos... El Geocaching en España se llama GeocachingSpain
The Cache Station offers Geocoins, Pathtags, Geocaching containers, micro Geocaches, evil Geocaches and regular caches for every Geocache hide style.
A great resource for the avid geocacher who wants to find custom caching containers at a reasonable price. This website has coolest looking and most realistic outdoor caches on the market. CachingBox.com also offers packages for teachers who want to incorporate their geocaching into their curriculum.
Preparation for Class Seminar
The class activity will involve a geocaching hunt. Members of the class will be divided into 3 groups. Each group will be required Geocace within 5min walk from the CSIS building using a GPS device. Each group will be given an object to place in the cache and take a small bag of jigsaw pieces from the cache in return. Each group member will sign the logbook with the pencil provided and return the cache to its original position. When the groups return to the classroom, they will work as one group to try and solve the puzzle by revealing a keycode which will open a locked box on the classroom desk. The treasure awaits!!
Please view this short video which gives a brief description of what geocaching is about.
The class will require no materials but we would suggest to bring jackets in case the weather turns against us.