Have you ever heard of geocaching?

Press information from 07.09.2012

Scavenger hunt 2.0 - Heavenly treasure hunt

"Papa, papa, when will we go back to the cache?" Lena asks her father Manfred impatiently. Lena is only nine years old, but geocaching is one of the favorite pastimes for her and her friends. And so dad Manfred regularly has to go out into nature with the girls. And he wants it too. Because geocaching is by no means just fun for children, but a leisure activity for the whole family and adventure-hungry adults. But what exactly is behind it?

Geocaching is a kind of scavenger hunt or treasure hunt with the help “from above”, in this case the signals from GPS satellites (Global Position System). Someone is hiding a “treasure” somewhere - a weatherproof lunch box or film can with a logbook, pen and (depending on the size of the container) small items to be exchanged - and puts its coordinates and a short description on one of the large geocaching platforms on the Internet. Other geocachers can download these coordinates and descriptions and search for the cache using a GPS device.

The father of geocaching is the American Dave Ulmer. Just twelve years ago, on May 3, 2000, he hid the first cache near Portland (Oregon) - it was a plastic bucket with various odds and ends (including a can of beans that still travel from event to event today) as " Schatz ”- and published the coordinates in an Internet user group. The other members of this group went on a search with their GPS devices: Geocaching was born!

There are now more than 1.8 million (!) Hidden jars and cans in all sizes, colors and shapes worldwide. And there are more every day! In Germany alone, cachers have now placed around 265,000 geocaches. Anyone with Internet access and a GPS device or a GPS-enabled cell phone can search for it. And of course, a portion of thirst for adventure should not be missing!

In contrast to the scavenger hunt at a children's birthday party, you don't follow arrows laid out from branches, shredded paper or sawdust, but the direction and distance information from the GPS device, supplemented by a short (or sometimes longer) text that belongs to each cache. What sounds like a complicated hobby for navigation specialists with survival training is astonishingly uncomplicated pleasure for young and old. "It's really easy with the GPS," says Lena confidently. Most modern GPS devices even have a special geocaching mode in which not only the coordinates are saved on the device, but also the difficulty rating, the text, images and a coded note!

Equipped with such a handheld GPS device, Lena and Manfred start looking for the hiding place. In the simplest case (traditional cache), the device guides you directly to the hiding place of the treasure. The difficulty is the way itself - and especially the last few meters, because cachers hide their treasures in the craziest places!

There are also more complex caches with intermediate stations (multicaches), sometimes even with puzzles (mystery caches). The imagination of the so-called owner (= owner and original "hiding" of the cache, who is also responsible for its maintenance) is virtually unlimited. Treasure hunters can also choose their geocaches according to their personal preferences: easy and quick for beginners or complicated and adventurous for everyone who has always wanted to follow in Indiana Jones' footsteps.

Once you have finally tracked down the object of desire, you have the honor of entering it in the logbook and - if there are barter items - a part of the treasure as a reward for the efforts made. The next geocacher is left with a new, specially brought treasure of approximately the same or higher value, so that the next seeker receives the same joy as you - a “reusable treasure”, so to speak. Back home, you can also log the find on the Internet. Not only for your own statistics, but also as public “proof” of the find and as a thank you to the owner.

The spectrum of cachers ranges from children like Lena to geocaching enthusiasts who spend all of their free time hiding and looking for treasure. Some geocachers have found ten thousand treasures! “It's an absolutely fascinating hobby,” explains Markus Gründel, geocaching specialist and book author, “We get the information we need from the virtual world of the Internet and then implement it outside in the real world. And the whole world is participating! "

Geocaching equipment

• Appropriate GPS device

• Computer with internet connection and USB interface

• Suitable outdoor clothing (depending on the weather)

• Sturdy shoes

• Thirst for adventure

• possibly special equipment

Geocaching in Germany

• Worldwide, the world's first and largest geocaching portal geocaching.com currently lists 1,878,047 * active caches.

• geocaching.com is the largest geocaching portal with more than 5,000,000 registered users worldwide.

• There are currently 264,566 * active geocaches in Germany. With an area of ​​357,022 km2, no matter where you are in Germany, there is always a cache within a kilometer - purely mathematically!

• The world's largest geoaching event with the most visitors so far was the "PROJECT GEOGAMES". It took place on June 30, 2012 in Leipzig: 3,011 * geocachers logged their "attendance"! (Estimates, however, are more likely to be around 5,000 visitors, as many families with several people were also present.)

• Germany not only has the largest geocaching community in terms of percentage, but also in absolute terms (unfortunately, they did not want to give an exact number). The confirmed official of Groundspeak, the operator of geocaching.com, at the Geocoinfest in Cologne - in German, because because of this fact, people in Seattle, the seat of Groundspeak, have been learning the German language for some time now.

• The first German cache was laid out south of Berlin on October 2nd, 2000 and is appropriately named "First Germany".

• The geocacher with the pseudonym Aldokyl has found an incredible 31,853 * caches since August 14, 2005. This results in an average of around 10 caches per day and makes him the German geocacher with the most finds. Internationally, however, it only ranks 34th.

• The international ranking is headed by the American Alamogul, who has already collected an unbelievable 72,040 * caches since October 27, 2002, which results in an average of approx. 18 caches per day. Geocachers with so many finds, however, are usually not individual perpetrators, but rather with several team members at the same time in different places, who then log all finds together under one account.

• The German comedian Bernhard Hoëcker is an avowed geocacher and has already published two books on the subject.

• In 2010 the Geocaching Magazine appeared for the first time, the first and so far only German magazine on the subject.

• Almost 58% of all active caches currently listed on geocaching.com are "traditionals", the simplest form of cache.

• In the last 30 days * a total of 8,111,056 logs were counted worldwide. Most of them were probably "Founds" - unfortunately DNFs ("Did Not Find") are often not logged in order to be able to show the best possible statistics.

Geocaching history

Geocaching has its origins in the USA. On May 2, 2000, the so-called “artificial inaccuracy” of the GPS signal was switched off for civil use (the “Global Positioning System” is operated by the US military). The accuracy increased from about 100 to less than 10 meters. Just one day later, on May 3, 2000, Dave Ulmer suggested in the newsgroup "sci.geo.satellite-nav" to hide a "treasure" that could only be found using a GPS device. That same day, near Beaver Creek, Oregon, he buried a box full of odds and ends, a pen and a notebook. Ulmer published the GPS coordinates in the newsgroup under the name "The Great American GPS Stash Hunt". This “stash”, an English term for secret hiding place, was structured in the same way as today's traditional caches. And amazingly, the only rule Dave made back then is still valid today: "Get some stuff - leave some stuff." One day later, the stash was lifted for the first time. "FTF" (First to Find) was Mike Teague, who three days after laying the treasure began to collect further stashes and their coordinates on a private website that were laid out by enthusiastic imitators. Dave Ulmer's "original cache" was later badly damaged and no longer exists in its original form. Instead, a new cache was placed and a memorial plaque was put up. During the preparations for this, a tin can with beans was found, which Dave Ulmer actually placed in his stash as a barter item. Today the can travels from one geocaching event to the next in the USA as a “Travel Bug” under the name “O.C.B.” (Original Can of Beans). The term "geocaching" was proposed for the first time in a newsgroup on May 30, 2000, because the term "stash" in English has slightly negative associations. On September 2, 2000, Jeremy Irish took over all known caches on geocaching.com because Mike Teague could no longer update the list of caches due to time constraints. In May 2010 geocaching celebrated its tenth anniversary.

Famous caches & travelbugs

Three of the most famous caches with their geocache codes:

GGGV0P “Stash Tribute Plaque” - the commemorative plaque of the world's first cache

GC77 The first German cache near Berlin

GC1BE91 The first and so far only cache in space is on the ISS. Up until now it was only allowed to be logged as "found" - but only virtually.

GC2BX63 The highest cache in the world - on the summit of Mount Everest.

GC5803 The northernmost geocache in the world - a traditional one.

GCHN13 The southernmost geocache in the world - a virtual one.

TBGJAA The "O.C.B." (Original Can of Beans), the famous bean can, is the only remnant from the very first cache in the world, which was laid by Dave Ulmer. Every now and then she travels as a travel bug to events where she can be admired under glass. The O.C.B. is also the most logged travel bug in the world.

TBD600 The very first Geocoin. It can also be admired on special occasions at events.

Source: Garmin press release.