Introduction to geocaching
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Introduction to Geocaching. Doug Earl (D of “ABCDMCachers”). Agenda. What When Where Who Why How Travel Bugs Resources. What. Geocaching – What is it?. An outdoor adventure game for GPS users of all ages GPS = Global Positioning System. What – In a Nutshell.

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Introduction to geocaching l.jpg

Introduction to Geocaching

Doug Earl

(D of “ABCDMCachers”)

Agenda l.jpg

  • What

  • When

  • Where

  • Who

  • Why

  • How

  • Travel Bugs

  • Resources

Geocaching what is it l.jpg
Geocaching – What is it?

  • An outdoor adventure game for GPS users of all ages

  • GPS = Global Positioning System

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What – In a Nutshell

  • Someone hides a weatherproof box in the woods.

  • The latitude and longitude of the box is published on the Internet.

  • Others go out and find the box using their portable GPSr.

  • Finders sign the log, trade trinkets.

  • When they get home, they log the find on the Internet.

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What – Boiling it Down

“I use multi-billion dollar military satellites to find Tupperware hidden in the woods.”

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What Is a Geocache?

  • A weather-resistant container such as Tupperware, Rubbermaid, or surplus ammo box


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What Else Can it Be?

  • Micro Caches

    • 35mm film canisters

    • Magnetic key holders

    • Or smaller! (Nano caches)

  • Camouflaged

    • Fake doggie doo

    • Hide-a-key rocks

    • Hollowed out rocks

    • Pine cones

    • Plastic spiders

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What’s in a Geocache?

  • Logbook

  • Trinkets to trade

  • Examples: toys, books, coins, tools, games, etc.

  • Information sheet that explains the container and has contact information.

Timeline l.jpg

May 1, 2000

Selective Availability Removed

May 3, 2000

“Stash” hidden in Oregon

Sept 2, 2000 started with 75 caches

Accuracy before:

Accuracy after:

100 meters

10 meters or better

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Where are They Hidden?

  • All over the world

    • 479,372 active caches in over 200 countries (as of 11/1/2007)

  • Well over 500 in the metro-Milwaukee area

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Where – Kinds of Places

  • Places with natural beauty

  • Parks – state, county, city

  • Hiking and biking trails

  • Areas with historical significance

  • Urban areas

  • Park and rides, waysides

  • Interesting places you didn’t know existed even in your own backyard

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Where - Specifically

  • Hollow trees and logs

  • Handrails, fence posts

  • Hanging in trees

  • Usually under or behind something, but never buried

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Where Won’t They Be?

  • National Parks

  • Private property unless owner gives permission

  • Under bridges

  • Less than .1 mile from another cache

  • Less than 150 feet from railroad

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Who Participates?

  • All ages, walks of life

    • Singles, Couples, Families, Retirees

  • People who enjoy the outdoors

  • People who like technology

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Who Hides Them?

  • Anyone who has a account

  • All caches must be approved

  • Maybe you?

    • Get experience finding before hiding your own - find at least 20

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Why Geocache? #1

  • The journey to the cache – beautiful areas and interesting places

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Why Geocache? #2

  • Family activity

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Why Geocache? #3

  • The challenge of the find, the thrill of the hunt

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Why Geocache? #4

  • The numbers game

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Why Geocache? #5

  • Read about others’ adventures

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The Packers: 8-1

OK, no caching Sunday afternoons

Why Geocache? #6

  • Turn off the TV and enjoy the outdoors! Get some exercise while you’re at it.

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Why Geocache - Different Ways to Enjoy

Traditional Caches – Most common

Like hikes? – Multi-caches

Like puzzles? – Mystery caches

Like socializing? – Event caches

Like history? – Virtuals

Like challenges? – Try higher difficulty

Like traveling? – Try county or Delorme challenge

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Mystery/Puzzle Caches

  • Before finding the cache, you need to solve a puzzle, sometimes on the cache webpage, sometimes at the cache site

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First Steps

  • Create a account

  • Buy or borrow a GPS receiver

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Find Nearby Caches

  • Search by zipcode or latitude/longitude

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Find Nearby Caches - 2

  • Use Google Maps from or Google Earth

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Read About the Cache

Cache type, name,

Who placed it



Unique Identifying code (AKA waypoint)

Latitude, Longitude

Distance from home

Download Lat/Lon file (so don’t have to manually enter)



Travel Bugs / Geocoins

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Enter the Coordinates into the GPSr

Waypoint Name

Waypoint Note (Optional)

Latitude and Longitude(Coordinates)

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Follow the Arrow

When the arrow points straight up, you are going in the right direction.

How far you have to go

Direction you are going(Typically only works while moving)

Direction you SHOULD go(bear right)

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Look Around

  • Look for anything unusual or out of place.

  • Look in places that YOU think would be good to place a cache.

  • No luck? Enlarge your search area

    • Heavy tree cover affects signal

    • Use a compass – only high-end GPSr’s have a built-in compass

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Woo Hoo! Found it!

  • Sign the log book

  • Trade items if you wish

    • Family-friendly, no food

    • Leave something of equal or greater value compared to what you take

  • Re-hide the cache back in the same spot

  • Log your experience on and “collect a smiley”

Hiding your own l.jpg
Hiding Your Own

  • Show off a favorite area

  • Show how sneaky and creative you can be

  • Get permission from land manager

    • DNR land - must fill out form

  • Be mindful of environment

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Travel Bugs and Geocoins

  • Travel from cache to cache (not collectible!)

  • Usually have a goal, Examples:

    • Visit all baseball parks, all capitols

    • Have picture taken with <fill in the blank>

    • Final destination: Alaska, South Pole

  • Journey is tracked on

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TB Examples

  • TB Tag has a unique ID#

  • Attached to a small item

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TB Examples - 2

  • From the “you gotta be kidding me” file

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Important Terms

  • FTF: First To Find

  • Muggle: Non-geocacher

  • TNLNSL: Took Nothing, Left Nothing, Signed Log

  • DNF: Did Not Find

  • CITO: Cache In Trash Out

  • 1/1: Referring to difficulty and terrain

  • TB: Travel Bug

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Wisconsin Geocaching Association


WGA Picnic Event

McKenzie Environmental Education Center, Poynette, WI

August 21, 2004

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Premium Membership

  • $30/year

  • Have “Pocket Queries” emailed to you

    • Up to 500 caches centered on a point

    • Easy to transfer to your GPSr

      • GSAK

      • EasyGPS

  • Member-only caches

  • Email notification of new caches

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Similar Sites


    • Goal: higher quality caches


    • Unique locations, but no cache to find

    • Misspelled signs, funny mailboxes, waterfalls, water towers, etc.


    • No GPSr required