5…4….3….2….1…. Ready or not, here I come. As children, hide and seek was a wonderful thrill, its heady danger of being caught combined with the constant anxiety of finding a deeper hole to bury into or a wider tree to hide behind meant that games could last a matter of seconds, minutes, or hours. It was a game to test patience as well as ability. Now, as adults, it can be hard to gain that adrenaline rush of catching or being caught. Running through woodlands away from another adult is usually a cause for concern so many hide and seek enthusiasts are turning to the adventure sport of Geocaching, a simple substitute for a willing hider or seeker.
The definition according to Wikipedia is, “an outdoor recreational activity, in which participants use a Global Positioning System (GPS) receiver or mobile device and other navigational techniques to hide and seek containers, called 'geocaches' or 'caches,' at specific locations marked by coordinates all over the world.” In lame man’s terms, a participant downloads the Geocaching app onto their smart phone, then, using the navigational map as well as a set of clues, they attempt to find the small container, concealed within the landscape. A close comparison would be to the Pokemon Go craze that stormed people’s smartphones in the summer of 2016. Geocaching seems less like hide-and-seek but more like a treasure hunt, where the treasure is very often simply self-satisfaction and the accomplishment of seeing your own name on a damp piece of paper.
Started in 2000 (like all good things), the idea of Geocaching (adapted from “Letterboxing”) was posted in an early internet style forum. The post read:
“Well, I did it, created the first stash hunt stash and here are
N 45 17.460
Lots of goodies for the finders. Look for a black plastic bucket
buried most of the way in the ground. Take some stuff, leave
some stuff! Record it all in the log book. Have Fun!
Stash contains: Delorme Topo USA software, videos, books, food,
money, and a slingshot!”
While sadly I haven’t come across any slingshots or even VHS videos, I have learned a huge amount about many local areas and gone to places which I wouldn’t have otherwise. For example, a trail of Rupert Bear Caches (characterised by the container’s yellow scarf) led me deep into the Welsh countryside, north of Aberystywth. It was a beautiful day and we walked for miles, past farms and fields, over stiles and through gates. At each cache there was another part of Rupert Bear’s adventure: we learnt who he met and what he got up to. Upon finding each container, we signed our names in the log book and logged each find on the app, which gives the option of leaving comments for future Geocachers, such as, ‘watch out for the nettles,’ or simply, ‘found nothing.’
A particularly fascinating cache was discovered when myself and my girlfriend moved to Bournemouth. In a new area, we didn’t know where to go, or even where things were. One gloomy evening, we decided to re-download the app and take a walk in our local neighbourhood to find a couple of caches. The result was brilliant. We learnt what the streets were like during the war and met three of our neighbours, each walking their dog.
If you are struggling to get outside due to lack of direction or motivation, pick up your smartphone and download the Geocaching app. It lets you tick the caches off, gives you access to the many planted puzzles and clues, it’ll tell you a huge amount of detail about the area and you’ll feel like you’re in on a secret that the rest of the public aren’t!