Outdoor treasure hunt: How geocaching can add a little adventure to your days

The Adventure Lab at Hills & Dales MetroPark. The clovers on the bridge help answer a question that is part of the adventure. DEBBIE JUNIEWICZ / CONTRIBUTED
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The Adventure Lab at Hills & Dales MetroPark. The clovers on the bridge help answer a question that is part of the adventure. DEBBIE JUNIEWICZ / CONTRIBUTED

A high-tech treasure hunt, geocaching can be fun for the entire family.

From mountain tops to deserts and city parks to country roads there are more than 3 million geocaches around the world, including a few underwater.

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“What makes it so unique is that everyone can do it,” said Rebecca Boyd of the Miami Valley Geocachers. “There are geocaches that are handicap accessible and there are ones you need to climb a tree to find.”Geocaching, which got its start 20 years ago, is a real-world, outdoor treasure hunting game using GPS-enabled devices. Participants navigate to a specific set of GPS coordinates and attempt to find a container – a geocache or cache – hidden at that location. It’s not about the “treasure,” which may be nothing more than a plastic dinosaur or a pinecone, it’s about the hunt.

“When our kids were younger, we would get on the computer and they would choose a cache,” Boyd said. “It let them own the adventure.”

The Boyd family – which has expanded to include grandchildren geocachers – speaks from experience as they have logged 13,152 finds in 39 states.

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Rebecca Boyd of the Miami Valley Geocachers participated in an outing with her grandchildren, Daisy and Dominic, with a cache at a Columbus MetroPark last summer. REBECCA BOYD / MIAMI VALLEY GEOCACHERS

Rebecca Boyd of the Miami Valley Geocachers participated in an outing with her grandchildren, Daisy and Dominic, with a cache at a Columbus MetroPark last summer. REBECCA BOYD / MIAMI VALLEY GEOCACHERS
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Rebecca Boyd of the Miami Valley Geocachers participated in an outing with her grandchildren, Daisy and Dominic, with a cache at a Columbus MetroPark last summer. REBECCA BOYD / MIAMI VALLEY GEOCACHERS

Geocaching is easier than ever with the Geocache app. Simply download and create an account – both of which are free. You can search the area for nearby caches and determine how much of a challenge you are up for as there are a wide range of geocaches.

Filters can be added for geocache type, size, difficulty and terrain. Beginners might want to try a traditional type with a 1.5 or lower in difficulty and terrain. And size is a big consideration – pun intended.

“It could be the size of a pencil eraser or the size of a garbage-can lid,” Boyd said.

Once you find the cache, sign the enclosed logbook, take the swag and replace it with something you brought. Put the cache back exactly where you found it.

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Social distancing and geocaching

With social distancing guidelines currently in place and heightened concerns about touching surfaces, geocaching can still be a viable recreation alternative. It’s all about taking precautions.

“If we pull into a parking lot and it’s almost full, we go somewhere else,” Boyd said. “Look for more rural locations. There is a country road series where you can hop out of your car and find them.”

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A gadget cache found at Young’s Jersey Dairy in Yellow Springs. REBECCA BOYD / MIAMI VALLEY GEOCACHERS

A gadget cache found at Young’s Jersey Dairy in Yellow Springs. REBECCA BOYD / MIAMI VALLEY GEOCACHERS
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A gadget cache found at Young’s Jersey Dairy in Yellow Springs. REBECCA BOYD / MIAMI VALLEY GEOCACHERS

Geocachers can bring their own pen or pencil to sign the log and hand sanitizer or wipes to use after handling the container. They can bag the swag they collect and wash it with soap and water when they get home if they’d like.

But adventure seekers who don’t want contact with containers right now have a new, fun alternative.

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Geocaching Adventure Lab

Geocaching Adventure Lab is a new app that allows people to create, play, and share location-based experiences and games without any physical caches. The Adventure Lab app guides players through the process of finding clues, solving puzzles, and completing adventures one location at a time.

Part history, part present-day excursion, there are Adventure Lab experiences at Hills & Dales MetroPark and Cox Arboretum as well as an engaging Dayton Aviation Heritage Tour. The aviation-themed adventure includes 10 different locations that bring history to life.

“Adventure Lab is a great touchless option,” Boyd said.

For more information, visit www.geocaching.com or the Miami Valley Geocachers on Facebook.


PREPARE TO CACHE – WHAT TO BRING

  • Pen or pencil
  • Extra log sheets and Ziploc bags
  • Tweezers
  • Flashlight
  • Bug repellant
  • Work or gardening gloves
  • Small first aid kit/band-aids
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Bottled water and snacks (energy bar, nuts, etc.)
  • Plastic bags to collect trash
  • Swag for replacing in geocaches

Source: Geocaching.com

GEOCACHERS’ CREED

When placing or seeking geocaches, I will:

1. Not endanger myself or others.

2. Observe all laws and rules of the area.

3. Respect property rights and seek permission where appropriate.

4. Avoid causing disruptions or public alarm.

5. Minimize my and others’ impact on the environment.

6. Be considerate of others.

7. Protect the integrity of the game.

Source: Geocaching.com

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