Friday, January 06, 2012

Worldwide treasure hunt.

When I was growing up I wanted to be a pirate or an archaeologist. Ideally, a bit of Captain Jack Sparrow meets Indiana Jones. Well, here’s the thing…I’ve discovered a hobby (or possible addiction) which allows me to be both professions rolled into one.

It’s called Geocaching.

And it’s like a worldwide treasure hunt.

A geocache is a hidden container – honestly the places some people put them are astounding – which players locate using a GPS (Global Positioning System) device. The concept started back in 2000 by an American guy called Dave Ulmer. On May 3, he hid the first ever geocache, a black bucket with some goodies, in the woods near Beavercreek, Oregon, USA. The coordinates were: N 45° 17.460 W 122° 24.800You can read the full story here

Since becoming an official “hunter” around a month ago, I’ve found caches under a snow-covered bridge, in a dank tree hole and at a cafĂ© where you had to say a code phrase to the chick at the counter. I’ve also heard stories about stashes discovered behind raging waterfalls, near famous works of street art and up sheer cliffs that appear inaccessible.

The awesome thing about geocaching is anyone can do it. Each hide is rated at a particular degree of difficulty so you know from the outset what you’re getting yourself into. [Cue Bear Grylls theme music!] Sure, many are not for the faint-hearted but others you can take the kids on, no problem and you never know what you’re going to find. A log book and pen or pencil is always a definite so you can make your mark and one item frequently parted with that I’ve noticed is foreign currency.

This is adventure with education. I look at it as upgraded orienteering – a modern day equivalent of the compass without disengaging from the learning side of things, such as knowing how to read coordinates and telling which way is north while having fun doing it.

In the words of the Captain: “Not all treasure is silver and gold…savvy?” Sometimes that’s just what the booty’s wrapped in, aye. Happy hunting.