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A Geocache

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The Great Adventure of Geocaching

A great way to get the kids outdoors and on a family adventure!

If you are reading this, you are probably a Muggle. No, I’m not writing this article from Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. I am, however, in a very different, but just as exciting secret society. There is a worldwide adventure game that you have unknowingly walked past thousands of times in thousands of places since the year 2000. Those who don’t know about the game are called Muggles, and those who play are called Geocachers.

Do you remember how new and exciting it was to buy and use one of those dash-mounted GPS navigation devices for your car? While most of us saw those talking boxes, that left a permanent ring on the dashboards of cars, as a symbol of the crème de la crème of society to afford such a luxury; others were excited about the possibilities that came with the extremely accurate and newly public applications of GPS technology.

GPS technology was changed on May 2nd, 2000, when twenty-four satellites around the globe were given the task of increasing GPS accuracy. The next day, GPS enthusiast and computer programmer, Dave Ulmer, had the idea for “The Great American GPS Stash Hunt”. Located in Beavercreek, Oregon, Mr. Ulmer was part of a popular GPS enthusiast internet group. He proposed that each member hide a container in the woods and provide only the GPS coordinates for other members to locate the container. Within three days, two users found Mr. Ulmer’s hidden container containing a slingshot, software, books, videos, money, and a can of beans and wrote about their experiences. This new game was given life and immortalized with a plaque that sits at the original stash site. 

The Great American Stash Hunt was growing fast and wide. It was no longer isolated to the US and needed a new name. Matt Stum wordsmithed the term Geocaching by fusing two words. Geo signifies the game using geography all around the globe. Cache is a French term for a ‘hiding place to store items’. This name is very fitting to the game because it is a worldwide treasure hunt. It is where technology meets adventure.

Geocaching has evolved from the simple internet group of GPS enthusiasts to having many websites and apps for your phone. The application my family uses is called Geocaching which is developed by Groundspeak Inc. My husband, our two boys, and I will make a day out of Geocaching. Loaded up with healthy snacks and lots of sunscreen, we open our Geocaching app, find a cache we have yet to find, and take off. When you select a cache, you follow the GPS provided on the app to lead you to the coordinates. When you get to the coordinate location, it comes down to you. There may be clues written in the cache description, and there may be clues in your surroundings, but it is up to you to find the cache. Inside the cache, you will find a log to sign and some trinkets. The tradition of “Take some stuff, leave some stuff” is still applicable today. The first cache we ever found was in our very own neighborhood. Once we pulled that giant PVC pipe out of the ground and opened it to find toys, coins, and a log to sign our name…we were hooked. The next day we walked around downtown Winter Garden finding caches hidden under bricks, light post skirts, and park benches with fake bolts (hint, hint). Geocaching has been a way to get my boys off the screens and out of the house to use their problem-solving skills while tickling their adventure bones.

There are hundreds of caches around Winter Garden, Windermere, and Horizon West. That isn’t hyperbolic, there are literally hundreds of them. Thousands if you expand your search to the entire Orlando area. There are over two million active geocaches worldwide. No matter where you go on vacation or a business trip, you can log some caches. There are caches as far as Australia, Ethiopia, Saudi Arabia, England, France, etc. Every corner of the globe will be littered with caches to find.

So, if you are ever out in public and see a random person or family checking all the bolts in a park bench or lifting the skirt to a light post, they are fellow geocachers. Now that you know about this secret game, will you remain a Muggle or join the adventure and become a Geocacher? 

My name is Devin Clifton. I grew up near Chicago and moved here five years ago. My husband and I have two wonderful boys and love living in Central Florida. When we are not exploring the vast Florida scenery and enjoying local eateries, I enjoy creating fine art photography, playing piano, and writing novels. Feel free to email me with any local story ideas:

"There are hundreds of caches around Winter Garden, Windermere, and Horizon West. That isn’t hyperbolic, there are literally hundreds of them. Thousands if you expand your search to the entire Orlando area."

  • Geocaching Maps of Winter Garden and Australia
  • A Geocache
  • Alexander and Oakley Clifton