There are many good reasons to take up this hobby.
A while back we gave you a primer on geocaching, the family-friendly hobby that uses GPS devices for a sort of high-tech treasure hunting. You work to find hidden containers, and anyone can take part in it at pretty much anytime and almost any place. If you're unfamiliar with geocaching, you might want to read that article first.
You've likely driven or hiked past many a geocache in the past without ever realizing it.
While our first article was more of a 101 intro to the hobby, now we're going to give you the various benefits that can come from taking up this hobby in the spring.
1. It's another excuse to get outside
For me, it has proven to be an excellent way to fill in some of the gaps between hunting and fishing seasons. Or it has proven to be something fun to do when the weather just isn't cooperating for those other outdoor activities. In any case, you can't go wrong with something that gets you outside and keeps you active.
Also, no matter where I go in the United States or even the world, I can go geocaching without having to get permits or licenses first.
It doesn't matter if you're doing a quick walk in the local state park or a big geotour of another country, there is almost always a geocache that can fit into your plans no matter how much time you have to spare.
2. It promotes exercise
If you're like me, you probably find it hard to stay motivated to exercise. Geocaching helps with that in a big way.
Following the cache coordinates to cleverly hidden containers gives me a goal to shoot for on my walks, kayak paddles, and bike rides. It also provides a change of scenery every time as you explore local parks, rivers, and hiking trails.
Often, I'm having so much fun on my treasure hunt, I forget I'm getting some good exercise in the process. What better way is there to get in shape?
3. Cleaning up our natural areas
Nothing gets me more frustrated as a hunter and fisherman than to find public areas filled with all sorts of trash. That is why it is so refreshing to see an outdoor hobby organizing people to help pick up the litter and make these natural areas a better place for all to visit.
In fact, now thorough May 31, the main geocaching website: Geocaching.com is running the first of two seasons of "CITO" Week. CITO stands for Cache In Trash Out. Lots of geocachers practice "leave no trace" principles, and many will be organizing events to help clean up trash in parks, bike trails, boat launches, and other places all over the world.
I have participated in CITO events where we cleared a local park of garlic mustard, an invasive species of weed that chokes out native plant life. In turn, after just a few years, the efforts of our work were obvious because we didn't need to hold the events anymore. The garlic mustard was gone! You should be able to definitely get behind this aspect of geocaching.
4. It's a great activity for families
If your kids aren't really taking to hunting or fishing, geocaching can be an interesting activity to try and get them interested in the outdoors. Many children get excited over the prospect of a "treasure hunting" adventure, even if the items in most geocaches aren't of much real value most of the time.
Maybe bring along a few cheap dollar store toys to swap out for anything your kids might not be interested in.
Also, geocaching is very simple to get started in. The learning curve has decreased dramatically in recent years. These days you can get started with a variety of geocaching apps available for smartphones. I personally prefer a dedicated GPS unit, especially for those caches in remote wilderness areas.
5. It will help you learn GPS
Maybe you bought a global positioning system for hunting in the backcountry, but you have no clue how to use it. Geocaching can help you figure out all the bells and whistles on your new device.
It can also teach you the various forms of GPS coordinates and how they work. It doesn't matter whether you own a Garmin, Magellan, or whatever. Geocaching can help you get familiar with your GPS receiver in a hurry, and to be prepared to use it in whatever situation you need.
6. It'll show you new places to enjoy the outdoors
I have at least four shed whitetail antlers in my collection because of geocaching. Two of them were found while I was seeking out geocaching containers.
Because geocaches are rarely on private property, that means you're going to be discovering a lot of new lakes, meadows, streams, and wooded areas in the course of your geocaching adventures. I have dozens of new fishing spots I only discovered through geocaching.
I've also found some amazing campgrounds and swimming areas while searching out different geocaching sites. I've also discovered several public hunting areas that receive little to no pressure because of geocaching. Some of these places were amazingly close to home, but I never knew they existed!
Over and over again, I find geocaching helps me find new areas I can enjoy in conjunction with my other outdoor hobbies.
Also, geocaching while on a sight-seeing vacation is just the best. Virtual caches will show you all the cool little hidden areas the locals keep secret and the guidebooks and tours won't show you.
7. You'll make a lot of new friends
Probably one of the best things about geocaching is the community. I've met literally hundreds of cool people at geocaching events and I have made dozens of new friends I never would have met otherwise.
It is amazing how cache finders with one silly hobby in common seem to transcend all cultural, political, and even extreme age differences. It's an awesome thing.
You never know, you just may make some new friends for life!