Geocaching introducing a whole new era of scavenger hunts | BrainerdDispatch.com | Brainerd, Minnesota

Geocaching introducing a whole new era of scavenger hunts

Tech Savvy

Posted: July 20, 2012 - 9:44pm
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One of my favorite pastimes as a child, and even now when I am with
my nephews, was to go on a scavenger hunt.

Making clues that take you all around as you look forward to the ultimate surprise prize that waits for you, it was one of the best games to play to get you moving.

Now as I’ve grown up and times have changed, like usual, so has the way people do things — like scavenger hunt. Now it’s geocaching, which expanding hunts beyond just friends and family and out into the world.

“It’s one of my favorite things to do,” said Brainerd Dispatch IT manager, Jason Walkowiak. “I can be anywhere, out camping with the kids for example, and just open up the app to see if there are any geocaches around and go find them.”

Originally used on GPS units in its beginnings in 2000, geocaching has since joined the smartphone phenomenon by adding an app that, once purchased for $9.99, users can begin their hunt by navigating on the app’s map to a set of coordinates to find the geocache hidden at that location.

“A geocache can be any item, big or small,” said Walkowiak. “I have seen them as big as moving plastic containers and as small film containers.”

Eight simple steps

According to geocache’s main site, www.geocaching.com, there are eight simple steps to get users Geocaching using GPS and a computer today:

1. Register for a free basic membership.

2. Visit the “Hide and Seek a Cache” page.

3. Enter your postal code and click “search.”

4. Choose any geocache from the list and click on its name.

5. Enter the coordinates of the geocache into your GPS Device.

6. Use your GPS device to assist you in finding the hidden geocache.

7. Sign the logbook and return the geocache to its original location.

8. Share your geocaching stories and photos online.

All the same amenities are on the smartphone apps, but will pinpoint the location for you once given your current location. Once a geocache is found, the finders may take the prize but must replace it with something else.

“You can leave anything except food,” Walkowiak said. “I usually carry a bag of little toys with for when we (him and his family) find one and its something small to leave.

“The kids love finding the toys.”

Further enhancing the uniqueness and range of geocaching is the ability to have a scavenger hunt with people anywhere, even around the world.

Geocaching boasts a community of five million users and is played in plenty of countries around the world.

So grab your phone, download the app and experience a new kind of scavenger hunt. You’ll be hooked.

JESSI PIERCE, staff writer, may be reached at 855-5859 or jessi.pierce@brainerddispatch.com. Follow her on Twitter at www.twitter.com/jessi_pierce (@jessi_pierce).

PHIL SEIBEL, Digital Manager, may be reached at 855-5862 or phil.seibel@brainerddispatch.com. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/pseibel(@pseibel).