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Introduction to Geocaching

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1 Introduction to Geocaching
Doug Earl (D of “ABCDMCachers”) Tonight you are going to learn why I haven’t golfed in over 3 ½ years and why my lawn looks terrible. It’s all due to Geocaching! Hopefully after tonight you will be as excited as I was about geocaching when I first heard about it so you won’t want to spend time golfing or taking care of your lawn either! Before we get started, I have a few questions for you: How did people hear about it? Have you visited How many have done Geocaching? How many have a GPSr? How many have it with them tonight?

2 Agenda What When Where Who Why How Travel Bugs Resources
Tonight we ask and answer some of the fundamental questions about geocaching. If you’re on the fence about whether you want to get started with geocaching, or whether you want to make an investment into a GPS unit, tonight should help you make that decision.

3 What Many of you are somewhat familiar with geocaching, but let’s take some time to explore what geocaching is all about.

4 Geocaching – What is it? An outdoor adventure game for GPS users of all ages GPS = Global Positioning System Game? Sport? Hobby? Outdoor adventure? Made possible by the global positioning system, a system of 24 satellites. Once the GPS system was made available, someone had the bright idea, “Hey let’s hide a bucket in the woods, fill it with some stuff, and see if anyone can find it!”. People did find it, and they had a good time doing it, and a short time later, geocaching was born.

5 What – In a Nutshell Someone hides a weatherproof box in the woods.
The latitude and longitude of the box is published on the Internet. Others go out and find the box using their portable GPSr. Finders sign the log, trade trinkets. When they get home, they log the find on the Internet. Geocaching today hasn’t changed much from that original idea. GPSr: r = receiver. GPS units only receive signals, they don’t transmit That’s it in a nutshell, but we can boil it down even further…

6 What – Boiling it Down “I use multi-billion dollar military satellites to find Tupperware hidden in the woods.” I like to use this explanation when describing geocaching to people who have never heard of it before. Their first reaction is, “why?”. That’s one of the questions we’ll be answering tonight.

7 Usually What Is a Geocache?
A weather-resistant container such as Tupperware, Rubbermaid, or surplus ammo box Usually Ammo-boxes must be clearly marked, otherwise bomb squads tend to blow them up!

8 What Else Can it Be? Micro Caches Camouflaged 35mm film canisters
Magnetic key holders Or smaller! (Nano caches) Camouflaged Fake doggie doo Hide-a-key rocks Hollowed out rocks Pine cones Plastic spiders

9 What Else Can it Be? - 2 Many cachers try to be as devious as possible.

10 What Else Can it Be? - 3 Others like to show off their creativity or warped sense of humor. Be careful, it might be a real bird!

11 What’s in a Geocache? Logbook Trinkets to trade
Examples: toys, books, coins, tools, games, etc. Information sheet that explains the container and has contact information. Often, the reward is in the hunt so people will only sign the log But if you do trade: leave something of equal or greater value

12 When A lot of people ask “how long has geocaching been around?”

13 Timeline Accuracy before: Accuracy after: May 1, 2000
Selective Availability Removed May 3, 2000 “Stash” hidden in Oregon Sept 2, 2000 started with 75 caches Accuracy before: Accuracy after: 100 meters 10 meters or better Selective Availability encrypted the signal so only military had access to it. Signal for civilians had random errors of up to 100m. “Stash” changed to “geocache” because stash has negative connotations. Cache at the original stash - GCGV0P – Original Stash Tribute Plaque, placed 9/7/2003

14 Where

15 Where are They Hidden? All over the world
479,372 active caches in over 200 countries (as of 11/1/2007) Well over 500 in the metro-Milwaukee area The sport is growing. Just to give you an idea: 320,876 active caches as of 10/9/2006 500 caches in an 11 mile radius of Brookfield

16 The World Maps are old since they aren’t being made anymore, but you get the idea.

17 United States

18 Wisconsin Definitely more than this now.

19 Milwaukee Map from 11/4/ caches shown here. Smiley’s are those found by abcdmCachers.

20 Where – Kinds of Places Places with natural beauty
Parks – state, county, city Hiking and biking trails Areas with historical significance Urban areas Park and rides, waysides Interesting places you didn’t know existed even in your own backyard Almost every park and ride and highway wayside (aka park and grabs) Often read logs that say “I drive by here every day and I had no idea that this was here”.

21 Where - Specifically Hollow trees and logs Handrails, fence posts
Hanging in trees Usually under or behind something, but never buried Common misconception they are buried – media often refers to buried treasure.

22 Where Won’t They Be? National Parks
Private property unless owner gives permission Under bridges Less than .1 mile from another cache Less than 150 feet from railroad Each new caches must be reviewed to make sure they meet certain guidelines.

23 Who

24 Who Participates? All ages, walks of life
Singles, Couples, Families, Retirees People who enjoy the outdoors People who like technology Geocaching appeals to a wide range of people.

25 Who Hides Them? Anyone who has a account
All caches must be approved Maybe you? Get experience finding before hiding your own - find at least 20

26 Why This is the big question. What’s the appeal of finding Tupperware in the woods anyway? There are a lot of reasons – everyone has their own personal reasons since it appeals to people in different ways. Here are 6 of my personal reasons.

27 Why Geocache? #1 The journey to the cache – beautiful areas and interesting places Especially when on vacations, geocaching brings you to interesting places.

28 Why Geocache? #2 Family activity
Kids love it. Don’t mind hiking when they know there’s a goal. Fun to see their enthusiasm. Allison and her friend pondering over an anagram puzzle in order to find the next waypoint. Hiking in West Virginia – way steeper than it looks.

29 Why Geocache? #3 The challenge of the find, the thrill of the hunt
Remember, GPS doesn’t pinpoint the location – sometimes have more than 30 or 40 foot radius to search, especially if the hider’s coordinates were off when hiding and your coordinates are off in a different direction while searching. Finding in summer is a challenge - tree cover affects GPS signal, growth may be more than hider expected if hidden in spring. L: in a crevice under the roots of a tree off the edge of the Bluffs of Lake Michigan in Milwaukee C: a typical hide R: hides can be extremely devious.

30 Why Geocache? #4 The numbers game
502 in 3 ½ years, over 100 a year – seems like a lot until you take a look at EcoRangers. World leaders on 10/11/06 and 10/31/2007: Team Alamo: / 24823 CCCooperAgency: / 21632 Ecorangers are 4th in the world

31 Why Geocache? #5 Read about others’ adventures
Note: When you log a find you collect a “smiley”. Each person’s number of finds are tracked and shown. These are relatively short logs, but some are paragraphs long, sometimes very funny, detailing experiences and mishaps.

32 OK, no caching Sunday afternoons
Why Geocache? #6 Turn off the TV and enjoy the outdoors! Get some exercise while you’re at it. The Packers: 8-1 OK, no caching Sunday afternoons Presentation from last year: The Packers: 1-4, Need I say more? Don’t have to go cold turkey when you turn off the indoor electronics – still get to use GPSr!

33 Why Geocache - Different Ways to Enjoy
Traditional Caches – Most common Like hikes? – Multi-caches Like puzzles? – Mystery caches Like socializing? – Event caches There are a lot of different types of caches that appeal to different people. Virtual examples: - Soldier of the American Revolution - Joan of Arc Chapel on Marquette campus - First Baby of Brookfield Like history? – Virtuals Like challenges? – Try higher difficulty Like traveling? – Try county or Delorme challenge

34 Mystery/Puzzle Caches
Before finding the cache, you need to solve a puzzle, sometimes on the cache webpage, sometimes at the cache site Most have a love/hate relationship with mystery caches – love ‘em when you finally solve them, hate them until then.

35 Mystery/Puzzle Caches (2)
Old Jersey (GCPCE1). No, they’re not computer punch cards.

36 How We’ve looked at a lot of the elements of geocaching and I bet some of you are saying “I’d like to do this”. Let’s look at how you get started.

37 First Steps Create a account
Buy or borrow a GPS receiver account is free, you won’t get spammed by giving your address. Required because they don’t show the coordinates unless you are a member. Considerations: maps, color, compass, USB connection – highly recommended to get one that connects with your computer. 11/1/07: 60cx $ + $50 rebate

38 Find Nearby Caches Search by zipcode or latitude/longitude makes finding nearby caches very easy – just type in your zipcode on the home page.

39 Find Nearby Caches - 2 Use Google Maps from or Google Earth This screen shot is from a cache description. From there, it’s very easy to find other caches nearby.

40 Find Nearby Caches - 3 Google maps and satellite images getting so good, sometimes you don’t even need a GPSr!

41 Read About the Cache Cache type, name, Who placed it Size
Difficulty/Terrain Unique Identifying code (AKA waypoint) Latitude, Longitude Distance from home Download Lat/Lon file (so don’t have to manually enter) Attributes If you enter your lat/lon of your home when you create an account, you can get distance of each cache from your home as the crow flies. GC number factoid – cache placed on 10/11/2006 was GCYTJJ. When they get to GCZZZZ they will add a fifth letter. Hints! Travel Bugs / Geocoins

42 Enter the Coordinates into the GPSr
Waypoint Name Waypoint Note (Optional) Latitude and Longitude (Coordinates) Programs such as GSAK and EasyGPS can download the coordinates directly to the GPSr so you don’t have to enter them by hand. Select “Go To” to start navigation mode.

43 Follow the Arrow How far you have to go
When the arrow points straight up, you are going in the right direction. How far you have to go Direction you are going (Typically only works while moving) Direction you SHOULD go (bear right) Unless you have a high-end GPSr with a built-in compass, the display does NOT show you the direction you are facing when still, rather it shows the direction you are MOVING.

44 Look Around Look for anything unusual or out of place.
Look in places that YOU think would be good to place a cache. No luck? Enlarge your search area Heavy tree cover affects signal Use a compass – only high-end GPSr’s have a built-in compass

45 Woo Hoo! Found it! Sign the log book Trade items if you wish
Family-friendly, no food Leave something of equal or greater value compared to what you take Re-hide the cache back in the same spot Log your experience on and “collect a smiley”

46 Hiding Your Own Show off a favorite area
Show how sneaky and creative you can be Get permission from land manager DNR land - must fill out form Be mindful of environment Remember 50 or 60 teams may visit your cache in a year. Make sure they don’t have to trample sensitive areas to get there.

47 Travel Bugs

48 Travel Bugs and Geocoins
Travel from cache to cache (not collectible!) Usually have a goal, Examples: Visit all baseball parks, all capitols Have picture taken with <fill in the blank> Final destination: Alaska, South Pole Journey is tracked on Example fill in the blank pictures: general places such as bakeries, libraries, etc.

49 TB Examples TB Tag has a unique ID# Attached to a small item

50 TB Examples - 2 From the “you gotta be kidding me” file
Yes, people do cache in the winter!

51 TB web page This TB started in Michigan, then went to Texas, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Virginia, back to Wisconsin. After all that, notice that PharmTeam recently picked it up and they live only 2 blocks away!

52 Travel Bug Map

53 Trackables Page Tracked on profile pages
Geocoins have unique icons – kind of like stamp collecting for some people

54 Resources

55 Important Terms FTF: First To Find Muggle: Non-geocacher
TNLNSL: Took Nothing, Left Nothing, Signed Log DNF: Did Not Find CITO: Cache In Trash Out 1/1: Referring to difficulty and terrain TB: Travel Bug Being FTF is a big honor – many cachers race to be FTF.

56 Wisconsin Geocaching Association
Forums, event planning, work with DNR, cache of the month Annual picnic and campout Free membership non-profit org with board of directors 843 members as of 10/10/2006 WGA Picnic Event McKenzie Environmental Education Center, Poynette, WI August 21, 2004

57 Premium Membership $30/year Have “Pocket Queries” emailed to you
Up to 500 caches centered on a point Easy to transfer to your GPSr GSAK EasyGPS Member-only caches notification of new caches

58 Similar Sites
Goal: higher quality caches Unique locations, but no cache to find Misspelled signs, funny mailboxes, waterfalls, water towers, etc. No GPSr required – must be sponsored to join, but they say it’s very easy to find a sponsor. - formerly “locationless” caches on

59 Thanks for Attending Questions?

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