With over three million active sites around the world as of 2020, geocaching has proven to be popular among people since its debut in 2000.
Using GPS coordinates, people find and locate geocaches, which are often data logs, but can also be trinkets and other novel items. Over 642 million data logs have been archived.
“I believe geocaching captures our interest in exploring and adventure, and looking for a geocache is like looking for a hidden treasure, which really captures our imagination,” Thomas Patterson, Ph.D, said.
Patterson said geocaching is a great way to explore new areas and find interesting features in our communities. Most caches are hidden in locations like parks or near streams.
Geocaching’s success has resulted in the creation of blogs, websites and social media groups. Mississippi has its share of devoted geocache hunters, including the Facebook group Mississippi Geocachers.
One of its members, Corinth resident Katelyn Lucas, said she was introduced to geocaching by her cousin’s boyfriend. The inexpensive nature of the hobby made it easy for her to try out and enjoy.
“Geocaching is a great way to get outside and meet people and make friends. My husband and I got to know each other through caching and he even proposed to me through geocaching, so it has impacted my life for sure,” Lucas said.
There are at least 16 cache types for people to try and find, each with different rules, parameters and rewards. One type of cache involves solving puzzles to get the right coordinates, while another requires folks to track down multiple caches in order to get the location of the final cache.
“To geocache, most users will download the cache’s coordinates into their handheld GPS unit or phone then navigate to the programmed location. Now that there are geocaching apps, users can log their finds and interact with other users more easily,” Patterson said.
For Laurel resident Laura Tew, she said the best part about finding a cache is not the cache itself, but how it is hidden.
“What’s really interesting to me is how creative people can get with their caches. I have found caches attached to the underside of oyster shells, in between the bark of a tree and many times just as a beautiful view,” Tew said.
Currently, there are about 361 thousand active participants on the app, and since membership is free, people need only their smartphone or a similar device to become involved.
“Geocaching is like a secret club and going with someone on their first hunt is like an initiation,” Tew said. “It’s fun to see people get excited when they find their first cache.”
“The most interesting aspect of geocaching is the places it takes you. I have been to Scotland twice and would have never known or traveled to some of the places I’ve visited had there not been a cache there,” Lucas said.