What is Geocaching?
What is Geocaching?
Geocaching is a fun outdoor recreational activity played by people of all ages and abilities.
Geocaching (pronounced geo-kash-ing) is a game that can be enjoyed by the whole family that combines technology with outdoor adventure, that uses problem and puzzle solving and:
- Gets you out into the fresh air.
- Gets you walking either a long or a little way.
- Introduces you to unusual/interesting/beautiful locations.
- Encourages the kids to ask, “Can we go for a walk today?”
- Is so much fun, you will want to go out for a walk too.
- Improves map reading skills
Geocaching is a worldwide high tech outdoor treasure hunting game that encompasses all of the above and much more. There are over 3 million geocaches hidden worldwide and over 6 million people who play the game.
So, How Does it Work?
First of all, you need to log into one of the various websites (listed later) and create an account. This is free and will allow you to see the geocaches hidden all over the world. Once you have created your account you can then find geocaches by downloading one of several apps on your smart phone or by using a GPS receiver. Most apps are free. The most popular ones are:
- Geocaching (free, only allows you to see geocaches on geocaching.com, available on Android and Apple)
- C:Geo (free, allows you to see geocaches on many different websites at the same time, only on Android)
- Cachley (Not free, only allows you to see geocaches on geocaching.com, only on Apple)
If you are using a smart phone app, then all you need to do is open the app and look for the geocaches in the app. To find them follow the apps instructions.
If you have decided to use a GPS receiver then enter the coordinates and go in search of it.
When you find it, you must sign the logbook and may take something from the geocache and leave something in return. If you take something, you have to leave something of equal or greater value in return. You then leave the geocache just as you found it (hidden of course). If you find a trackable (see further down the page) then you do not need to leave something in return but you must log that you have taken it and put it into another geocache.
When you return home, log on the website that the geocache is listed on and leave a few words about your adventure. This can also be done directly on the phone apps if you want to. These logs are important to the geocache owner as it is part of their ‘reward’ for hiding the geocache.
Geocaches are hidden all over the world by fellow geocachers. They do this so others can enjoy the game and take people to their favourite or special locations.
What do I Need to Play the Game?
A sense of fun and adventure, a GPS receiver or a smart phone, a pen/pencil and some method of transport.
If you are interested in geocaching and would like some help, there are several geocaching groups on Facebook. There are national and local groups. It is not hard to find a geocacher in your area who is willing to meet you and escort you on your first geocaching trip if that is what you would like.
History of Geocaching
A ‘geocache’ is derived from ‘geo’ which means earth, and ‘cache’ which means a hidden item or treasure. Geocaching was conceived shortly after the removal of Selective Availability (SA) from the Global Positioning System on May 2, 2000, by the US Government. This massively improved the accuracy from the area of a football field to 2 or 3 metres and allowed for a container to be specifically placed and located. The first documented placement of a GPS-located geocache took place on May 3, 2000, by Dave Ulmer of Beavercreek, Oregon. The location was posted on the Usenet newsgroup sci.geo.satellite-nav as N45° 17.460 W122° 24.800. By May 6, 2000, it had been found twice and logged once by Mike Teague of Vancouver, Washington. According to Dave Ulmer's message, this geocache was a black plastic bucket that was partially buried and contained software, videos, books, food, money, and a slingshot. A geocache and plaque called the Original Stash Tribute Plaque now sits at the site. (NB: You cannot leave food, money or weapons in geocaches anymore) .
Popular Geocaching Websites
geocaching.com (by far the most popular site with the most geocaches)
opencaching.org.uk (more geocaches than terracaching.com. Over 1000 geocaches of different types including types that cannot appear on geocaching.com. These caches are mostly in the south of England)
terracaching.com (few geocaches in the UK.)
www.gagb.org.uk The Geocaching Association of Great Britain have a huge resource of geocaching information and also hold a database of landowner permissions for placing geocaches.
https://geocachingscotland.com A great website for anyone geocaching in Scotland or just interested in Scotland. Regular competitions and give-aways.
A guide to container sizes
Please click on the link below for a short presentation showing the different sizes and styles of geocaches
The difference between SWAG and Trackables
The core of geocaching is pretty simple: to inspire geocachers to have an adventure at every location. But the game of geocaching can be much more complex. There are acronyms (TFTC, FTF, etc.), different cache types, SWAG, and trackables.
Both SWAG and trackables are items that you have probably seen in a geocache before, but even though they can look similar, they are actually much different! Below we’ll explore some of these differences.
First up: SWAG / SWAPS. Small toys, keychains, and other treasures found in the cache – that’s geocaching SWAG – or Stuff We All Get. SWAG is often something homemade, or represents a geocacher, their interests, or where they’re from! Geocachers trade swag by replacing items in the geocache with something of equal or greater value. Take a look at some SWAG examples below!
Trackables on the other hand, are traveling game pieces that geocachers send out into the world via a geocache or at an event, often with a goal or mission. Some of these goals could be specific, like visiting every country in Europe, or they may just want to go on an adventure to as many caches as they can.
Either way, trackables let you experience an epic journey, one story and one geocache at a time. Each log from your trackable is a page in a digital diary. You can see exotic locations, read entries of your trackable’s travels, and connect with the geocachers who carry your trackable from geocache to geocache. View some trackable examples below!
The main difference between SWAG and trackables are that you can keep SWAG, but unless a trackable says it can be collected, then the best action you can take is to move it to another cache, closer to its goal!
So far so good? Now some time for etiquette. Don’t worry, it’s only a few reminders!
How can I tell the difference between trackables and SWAG?
The easiest way to differentiate the two is to look for a tracking code on the item. Tracking codes can be found on the item directly, such as written or engraved, or attached to it via a tag. Below are three different forms of trackables.
SWAG or SWAPS
What are Swag and Swaps?
SWAG and Swaps are the same thing. They are small items left in geocaches for others to find. SWAG stands for “Stuff We All Get”, SWAP explains what you do with it. It is entirely upto you which word you use.
Can I keep SWAG?
Yes! Just be sure to leave something for the next person by trading up or trading evenly.
Can I trade SWAG for a trackable?
SWAG is meant to be a trade item in geocaches. If you take a piece of SWAG, then you should leave something of equal or greater value behind. Trackables want to move from cache to cache, collecting stories along the way. No need to trade items for a trackable. Just ensure you can help move a trackable toward its goal if you take one from a geocache.
Can I keep a trackable?
Unless a trackable specifically says it can be collected, you should not keep it. Instead, try to move it closer to its goal! If you’re not heading in the same direction, try discovering the trackable instead so that it’s owner knows it’s still in the cache.