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ART & LEISURE: Geocaching
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By Shanna Hester

art 01Geocaching is an outdoor activity in which participants use a Global Positioning System (GPS) receiver or mobile device and other navigational techniques to hide and to seek containers, called geocaches or caches, in different locations marked by coordinates all over the world. This has become a very popular leisure activity in China, especially among young locals as well as international travellers. Geocaching shares many aspects with benchmarking, orienteering, treasure hunting, letterboxing, trigpointing,waymarking and Munzee.

Generally, a cache is a small, waterproof, plastic container or ammunition box which contains items such as toys or trinkets, usually of more sentimental value than financial worth. Each cache also contains a logbook, and at times, a pen or pencil. Geocachers must sign the log with their established code name, along with the date, in order to prove that they have found the cache. After the log has been signed, the cache must be placed exactly where it was found.

Geocaching was initially similar to letterboxing, which uses clues and references to landmarks embedded in stories. The first documented placement of a GPS-located cache took place on 3 May, 2000, and was done by Dave Ulmer of Beavercreek, Oregon.

This activity was initially known as the GPS stash hunt or gpsstashing, but later it was suggested in the gpsstash eGroup that "stash" could have negative connotations, so the term geocaching was adopted.

Contents of a geocache

BT 202008 ART 02Traditionally, a geocacher will hide a cache and record the cache's coordinates. These coordinates, along with other details of the location, are posted on a listing site.

Other geocaches then obtain the coordinates from that listing site and seek out the cache using GPS receivers. They then record their exploits in the logbook and online, and place the cache back where it was originally placed so that other geocachers can find it. Geocachers are free to take any objects, except the logbook, pencil, or stamp, out of the cache in exchange for leaving something of similar or higher value.

Cache treasures are usually not high in monetary terms but may hold personal value to the finder. Common cache contents are unusual coins or currency, small toys, ornamental buttons, CDs, or books. Some geocachers leave signature items, such as personal Geocoins, pins, or craft items, to mark their presence at the location. Higher-value items are occasionally included in geocaches as a reward for the First to Find (called "FTF"), or in locations which are harder to reach.

Dangerous or illegal items, weapons, food and drugs may not be placed in caches and are specifically against the rules of most geocache listing sites. If a geocache has been vandalized or stolen, it is said to have been muggled.

Geocaches vary in size, difficulty, and location. Simple caches that are placed near a roadside are often called drive-bys, park and grabs (PNGs) or cache-and-dash. Geocaches may also be complex, involving significant travel or the use of specialist equipment in activities such as SCUBA diving, kayaking, or abseiling. Different geocaching websites list different variations as per their own policies.

Plenty of geocaches can be found in China, especially in major cities like Beijing and in many tourist and historical sites such as the Great wall, Terracotta warriors in Xi’an, etc.

Geocache types

BT 202008 ART 03•Traditional cache
•Offset cache
•Mystery/puzzle caches
•Challenge caches
•Night cache
•Chirp cache
•Wherigo cache
•Letterbox cache
•Moving/travelling caches
•Guest Book caches

There are some cache types which do not contain a physical logbook, such as BIT cache, virtual caches, earthcaches, reverse cashes, and webcam caches.

Geocacher events

BT 202008 ART 04An Event Cache is a gathering organized and attended by geocachers. It is not a true cache but is treated as such by geocaching platforms.

Cache-In Trash-Out (CITO) Events are coordinated activities of trash pickup and other maintenance tasks, such as constructing footpaths, planting trees and removing invasive species, to improve the environment.

A GPS Adventures Maze Exhibit is an exhibit at a museum or science centre in which participants in the maze learn about geocaching.


Geodashing is an outdoor game in which the players use GPS receivers to find and visit randomly selected "dashpoints" around the world and report what they find with the objective of visiting as many dashpoints as possible.


Geocaching from space is a combination of flight into near space, the geocaching game, and a unique science experiment.

Paperless geocaching

This involves hunting a geocache without a physical printout of the cache description. Traditionally, this means that the seeker makes use of an electronic means of viewing the cache information in the field, such as by pre-downloading the information to a PDA or other electronic device.

Mobile devices

BT 202008 ART 05The geocaching.com website now sells mobile applications which allow users to view caches through a variety of different devices. Android, iPhone, and Windows Phone mobile platforms have applications in their respective stores. The apps also allow for a trial version with limited functionality.

C:geo is a free opensource full function application for Android phones that is also very popular.



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