Do you want to take part in the world’s biggest free treasure hunt? Then it’s time to get the kids outdoors and try geocaching. It’s a great way to explore new places or just an excuse to see more of your local area. In this post, we tell you why 2020 is a particularly good year to start geocaching…
2020 is a big year for geocaching
2020 is the 20th anniversary of geocaching which means it’s a great year to start taking part. Back in May 2000 the American Government who control the system of Global Positioning Satelittes lifted the selective availability restrictions on consumer GPS. Prior to this date GPS available to the public was only accurate to within about 5 metres.
Inspired by this overnight change, Dave Ulmer, a computer consultant from Oregon decided to test the precision of the new system by hiding a box in the woods near Beaver Creek and releasing the GPS coordinates on a forum online. In doing so he inadvertently created the most popular and long-running treasure hunt in the world.
Celebratory geocaching events happening around the world
This year as the geocaching community marks two decades since Ulmer’s first cache there will be celebratory events taking place across the world, including a huge party in Seattle at the geocache HQ. What better way to help your kids catch the geocaching bug, than by being involved in one of these special events? In the UK, dates lined up for 2020 include the FoxFest camping weekend in Cheshire, the 2020 Annual South Wales Geocaching Event and Scotland’s Caledonian CacheFest 2020. As the twentieth anniversary falls in May, most celebrations are happening over the summer months which means it’s perfect timing for half-term and summer holidays.
You can find a list of geocaching events happening throughout 2020 here
It’s now easier to start geocaching than ever before
When geocaching started at the turn of the millennium there were no smartphones, so it was quite a niche pursuit that involved buying a handheld GPS for a few hundred pounds, not something you were likely to do unless you were a sailor or seriously into rambling. Now nearly everyone has GPS on their mobile phone and some smartwatches with inbuilt GPS are even suitable.
In 2020 smartphone ownership is predicted to pass the 3.5 billion mark. Put simply, everybody who wants to try geocaching either owns a smartphone, or knows someone who does. All you need to do is download the free app and then you are on your way.
You can also add a logbook to your geocaching kit. The last few years have seen a boom in the number of these available and they even make them specifically for children.
Find special anniversary memorabilia
The geocaching website is releasing celebratory 2020 memorabilia including limited edition geocoins for people to place as calling cards in caches. These include some lovely kid-friendly dinosaur geocoins. Geocoins are placed in caches to be discovered, you can then login to the site and use the tracking number to record your find, before taking your geocoin to another destination for someone else to discover.
You can also earn virtual rewards while geocaching and these are known as souvenirs that get displayed on your profile. Geocache.com have already started the year with special 2019/2020 souvenirs for people who went out geocaching on New Year’s Eve or New Year’s Day and they’ll be lots more to come this year as the twentieth anniversary is celebrated.
Geocaching is the perfect way to get your (and your kids) weekly exposure to nature
Every year there’s more research that shows us the positive effect that the natural world has on our mental health. This time last year the concept of forest bathing was still alien to most of the British population, but this treatment which originates in Japan has shown how spending time in woodland can decrease stress levels and make us happier.
There’s also new research which shows 120 minutes a week in nature improves our health and wellbeing. Pulling kids (and perhaps adults too!) away from their screens and out into the British weather is not always easy, but we do know how important it is now. Geocaching is a great pursuit that all the family can work on together.
What do I need to start geocaching?
It’s really quick and easy to get
• A smartphone
• The geocache app which is available free from the iTunes or Google Play store
• Some small gifts or trinkets (there is no need to buy these, just have a root around at home and see what you can find)
• A pen or pencil to record your visit in the logbook (hopefully they’ll be one in the cache, but it’s sensible to take one in case)
If this post inspired you to try geocaching in 2020, we’d love to hear about it. Share your images with us on social media by tagging #littlegreenexplorers and don’t forget to follow us on Facebook & Instagram, links are below…