for National Geographic News
The key to hidden treasure lies in your handheld GPS (global positioning system) unit. GPS-based “geocaching” is a high-tech sport being played by thousands of people across the globe.
To the uninitiated, the sight of people circling methodically around a local woodland or city park, GPS device in hand, is a bit puzzling. But this strange behavior has a purpose: They’re people in search of a hidden a cache—one of tens of thousands of hidden treasures planted by other players.
“I go out with my five-year-old and nine-year-old as a family,” said geocacher Rich Ness, assistant manager of Bloomington, Minnesota’s REI outdoor-gear store (GPS coordinates: latitude 44° 51.6′ N, longitude 93° 17.3′ W). “I haven’t come across a kid yet who didn’t think it’s the greatest thing ever.”
Adults are hooked too.
Interested? There’s a cache near you. In fact you might be amazed at just how many caches are near you.
But just what is a cache? The answer is as different as the people who hide them.
The cache, often a piece of Tupperware, might contain only a logbook with some amusing stories of geocaching adventure. Others are stocked with prizes like books, software, CDs, videos, money, or toys. (Food is frowned upon, as are such restricted items as alcohol and fireworks.)