At the stroke of midnight on May 2, 2000, President Bill Clinton unscrambled military GPS for civilians to enjoy. The next day, computer consultant Dave Ulmer placed a logbook, pencil, some trinkets (including a slingshot) into a bucket, hid it in the Oregon woods, posted its coordinates online and dared people to find it. Geocaching was born.
Since then, this fun, active treasure hunt has grown exponentially, with millions of caches "hidden" in every corner of the world (including Antarctica beat by dre and the International Space Station) and, chances are, right outside your door. And now that smartphones pack GPS, the hobby has evolved from one dominated by motherboard building tech geeks into a budget friendly game that encourages families to go outside and get exercise.
The rules are simple: Someone puts a logbook and small knickknack into a waterproof container and stashes it. Once there, they sign the logbook, swap the object inside with one they brought and log the find online. And though the craziest casque beats prix caches require rock climbing or scuba diving, most are easy to find and hiding in plain sight.
Tech to the rescue?
At a time when smartphones, video games and MP3 players are being blamed for making American families more isolated and ever more sedentary, geocaching is doing just the opposite. "This is taking people outside and getting them to interact using technology."
Four years ago, Minneapolis artist Chris Dinesen Rogers and her husband had to print maps and coordinates and use a handheld casque beats bluetooth GPS unit when they wanted to cache. Now that all the information is on her phone, the couple geocaches every weekend and is closing in on their 500th find. "It gives us another excuse to be outside," Dinesen Rogers, 48, explains. "The program tells us what caches are within a certain distance. We might say, 'Oh, it's only a quarter of a mile away. Let's just do it.' It extends our walks. And it brings out the competitive spirit to see who finds it first!"
The hidden perk: exercise
It's so easy to get caught beats detox up in the competition of the treasure hunt, many geocachers don't realize they're getting exercise, too. And that's exactly the stealth perk that some find most valuable about the hobby. Martin Pedersen, a father of three from British Columbia, decided to drop pounds with the help of geocaching precisely because it didn't feel like exercise. "What makes me happy is being outside," he explains. "It was something that I craved to do rather than had to do."
For his yearlong "Geocache Diet," Martin paired healthier casque beats solo eating with the goal of logging 1,000 caches over 2,500 kilometers. Whether he was taking short hikes with his family or tackling tougher terrain alone, Pedersen surpassed both goals, losing 30 pounds in the process. "It was part of a lifestyle overhaul," he explains. "We want to be a healthy, tight knit family that experiences life and discovers together."
In geocaching, Pedersen found a hobby that combined his passions for the outdoors and quality time with the family. Now the whole gang is obsessed. "Our three beat by dre year old twins like running around the woods and seeing what's in the boxes," says Pedersen, who chuckles over a recent cache that was hidden in a ceramic hedgehog. "Our five year old daughter just takes the GPS and we'll follow her!"
Cache: the prize you're searching for. Long before the computer industry used the term "cache" to describe bits of memory, outdoorsy types used it to describe a hidden stash of supplies. And there are other, more practical benefits once the kids are hooked. "You're not really going to casque beats pro know what to look for at first, so it helps to be searching for a bigger container," Sonstelie advises. You'll also want to start with the easiest terrain level on the site's 1 to 5 scale. (Hey, it's a little early to pursue caches hidden on tree limbs or in the middle of rivers.)
Sonstelie also advises that you read the cache page carefully with an eye for hints heavy on wordplay. "It might say, 'Sit down and tie your shoes.' That could mean it's under a bench." And before committing to a cache, make sure someone christian louboutin cheap has found it within the last week. If so, chances are it's still active and hasn't been destroyed by a "muggle" (see sidebar).
Then, while others stay at home and watch TV, your family can set out to recapture a childlike sense of discovery. "People hide geocaches in really cool locations," says Sonstelie. "Even if you're in your hometown, you're discovering all these places that you didn't know existed, places with historical importance or great natural beauty." Bet you didn't know your cell phone could do that!