Thousands of people - kids, grownups and entire families - are scouring the outdoors looking for hidden treasure. Are they crazy? Or just addicted to the thrill?
Lacey Bishop, a geocaching enthusiast from Oxford, Mississippi, explains the allure of this unique hobby.
“Geocaching is like a game of hide and seek using a hand-held GPS device,” she said. “Think of it as a high-tech treasure or scavenger hunt for people of all ages.”
While the treasure isn’t valuable, the fun is in recording your experience in the logbook and checking out the trinkets stored in the waterproof container. Caching courtesy dictates that if you take a trinket, you must leave something in its place.
The caches can contain hand-crafted items, special geocoins, jewelry, knick knacks and even hiking stick vouchers, Lacey said. Items in a cache are inexpensive but they must be appropriate because it’s a family friendly sport. It’s friend friendly sport, too.
“It’s one of those hobbies where you can take a housewife, a firefighter and a CEO and everyone gets along because they’re brought together by their common interest in geocaching,” Lacey explained. “Everyone I’ve met has been really nice.”
While camaraderie is a big part of caching’s charm, it’s primarily the domain of men aged 25 to 55, Lacey explained. The good news is the men are bringing their children along. However, Lacey’s goal is to get more women involved, too.
“One of the reasons I do it is to get outside. I’m a 32-year-old mom. If I wasn’t outdoors, I’d be inside cleaning the house or watching TV,” Lacey said. “Plus, geocaching is a great way to lose weight and get in better physical shape. I’ve already lost weight walking to find geocaches. It could be a mile away but I’m not thinking about that because I’m having so much fun.”
Lacey, who geocaches with her husband and daughter, found her first treasure in March of 2006. Since then, she’s found 2,000 caches in seven states.
Geocaches can be hidden in easy-to-access places such as public parks or they can be located along backcountry hiking trails, underwater or on mountain tops. So the amount of exercise you’ll get varies with the challenge you undertake. You can even give your brain a workout by tackling a puzzle cache, which requires you to discover information or solve a puzzle to find the cache.
Getting started is easy. Lacey said her family stumbled into the adventure by searching online for software to map ATV trails. However, she recommends visiting <http://www.geocaching.com/> where you can begin searching for more than 750,000 active geocaches around the world. All you need is a handheld GPS unit and a sense of adventure.
Or you can join a state or local organization such as the Mississippi Geocachers Association. You can check that site out at <http://www.msga.net/>. By joining an organization you can benefit from training, organized events and a whole new set of friends.
Before you head afield, brush up on Tread Lightly!’s “Tips for Responsible Geocaching” at
While geocaching sounds like lots of fun, I think I’ll continue practicing my own form of the sport, which I call “scouting.” And if I I’m lucky enough to find my treasure, I’ll call it dinner!