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Geocaching Ontario - Families are Caching In on Fun and Adventure

Introduction | What is Geocaching | Geocaching in Ontario

Are you and your family on your way to Ontario, Canada? Toronto? Niagara Falls?

Have you thought of adding Geocaching to your play list? Since 2001, geocaching adventures have catapulted in size and interest beyond anything Dave Ulmer could have imagined when he packed his first cache in April 2000—and then invited “the world” to try to find it a month later. He was shocked at how fast his treasure was located.

Ulmer first verbalized the idea of geocaching when he wrote, “I’m thinking of burying a five gallon plastic bucket with a lid at the stash point. Putting in some stuff. Adding a logbook and pencil so visitors can record their find.” Additionally, he invited those interested to participate, to do the same. “Make your own stash in a unique location, put in some stuff and a logbook. Post the location on the Internet. Soon we will have thousands of stashes all over the world to go searching for. Have fun!” he encouraged. And the rest is history.

Old pros or geocaching newbie’s alike will love Dave Ulmer’s own video of himself inventing the first “GPS Stash #1” as he called it—along with the “game rules.” You’ll hear his buddies use the phrase geocaching (coined by Matt Stum, May 30, 2000) during a return visit to the original hiding spot. Since then, according to Wikipedia, there have been over 800,000 geocache sites registered, in over 100 countries, on all continents—even Antarctica! And, close to 100,000 are in play today.

If you know what we are talking about, you’re biting at the bullet right now to find fun family geocache action in Southern Ontario. And, if you don’t know what we’re talking about, it’s about time you learned. To “play” all you need is GPS navigation, curiosity, true grit and imagination. Geocache adventures are fun and exciting for the whole family.

What is Geocaching and how do I cache?

Geocaching is a worldwide game of hiding and seeking treasure. A geocacher places a geocache somewhere in the world, pinpoints its location using GPS technology and then shares the existence and location of the treasure online, thus inviting others to try to find it. Think of it as playing “techno hide and seek” and looking for a pot of gold at the end of a rainbow at the same time! Anyone with a GPS device can participate!

And, here’s where your true grit and curiosity pay off. There are an amazing variety of geocache themes and participation options for the whole family (like Mystery, Letterbox, Wherigo, Event cache, Mega-event cache and Cache in, Trash out events). And, there’s an unbelievable array of GPS devices to consider—Palm Pilots and cell phones included!

If you want to participate in geocaching while on your next family vacation you must do some research and invest in a portable GPS device to get started. The book, “Geocaching. Hide and Seek with Your GPS,” by Richard Niles is an excellent resource for beginners, as well as seasoned geocachers, in providing a pragmatic approach to and an overview of the sport.

Those families looking for devices can begin with Garmin GPS or Magellon GPS systems (which seem to be popular) or use the Internet, magazines, and/or word of mouth to explore options that fit the clan’s personal interests, budget and current hardware/software inventory. It’s good news if you’re familiar with popular automotive GPS navigation and/or GPS navigation in general—you’re probably accustomed to navigation tactics, GPS maps, RSS readers, etc.

Once you’ve “honed in” on a device to use, you’ll get to explore all the cool geocache software available to help you and your extended family navigate a treasure hunt. And, you guessed it! There’s even a geocaching magazine where you can find GPS geocaching reviews or get advice and search for ideas.

Geocache from Carriage Ridge Resort

Many families use the geocaching twist on the cat and mouse game as an excuse to explore places they may not otherwise discover. Many times treasures are hidden in out of the way spots by folks wanting to introduce other folks to unique local destinations. So, before arriving at the resort, target a cache of interest to your group in the Barrie Ontario/Toronto region. There’s often more than one, so think about things like the difficulty of the hike—or the environment you want to hike in—when selecting your target cache. Before you leave home, set the waypoints of the cache(s) in your GPS device and print out the directions. Now you’re ready to launch into your geo search as soon as you unpack your bags! But please don’t begin until you’ve also done your homework about how the Geocaching sport is played. It’s a game of intrigue and adventure that counts on good old-fashioned ingenuity, honesty, honor and “Leave No Trace” behaviors as guiding principles.