Monday, May 30, 2011

Geocaching- Great family fun

I am so excited to be able to bring you this amazing post written by one of TammileeTips readers and a long time friend Kim Sandusky. I reached out and asked if she would share with all of you her experiences and love of geocaching. She has written a fantastic article breaking down geocaching in easy to understand terms and really getting me excited to try it.

Chances are that you have at least heard of the new sport called Geocaching. If not then you are about to! My name is Kim Sandusky and my family has been participating in this new sport for a little over 2 years now! My family consists of myself and my husband as well as our two children ages 6 and 3. We all participate and we all enjoy different aspects of the sport.

Lets start with some basic information about the sport. “Geocaching is a worldwide game of hiding and seeking treasure. A geocacher can place a geocache in the world, pinpoint its location using GPS technology and then share the geocache’s existence and location online. Anyone with a GPS unit can then try to locate the geocache.” ( To put it in my words, you use GPS signals to find hidden containers.

Sounds simple right!?! It sure is! When we started we had a hand-held GPS that we paid about $100.00 for. (That’s $25.00 a person for a family of four.) If you have a smart phone you can download an app for much cheaper! We checked out books from the local public library to get some information and then checked out the website. The first few times we went out were difficult, like anything else in life, there is a small learning curve. After learning how to use the GPS and the website we were ready to head out. All four of us went out to find geocaches that were hidden right in our neighborhood!

There are some basic rules when geocaching. 1. Respect the location. 2. If you take something out, put something in. 3. Sign the log book as well as record your experience online. 4. Have fun!!!!

Geocaching has provided our family with lots of great family memories at a very low cost! All four of us enjoy getting outside and it is a lot easier to get our kids to go on hikes with us if there are geocaches involved! I encourage you to visit the website and take a look around, it’s free!!!

GPS=Global Positioning System


Helpful Information

Caching Name
When you sign up for an account on the website you will need to think of a code name for you or your group. I elected to have one family account. Some families have separate accounts for each person in the house. There is no cost for the accounts so select what works best for you. Some hints to keep in mind. You will need to write this code name each time you find a cache. You may want to keep it short. We did not know this prior to creating out family name of Yuvee Mimi Bug Snip, there are times when we use just our initials YMBS to sign the log. Also keep in mind that if you are going to meet other cachers you will be known as this code name, keep it appropriate! To get some ideas you can look at other caching groups on the website.

Geocache Sizes
Geocaches come in all different sizes, shapes, colors, etc….. There are five catagories to pick from when designing a geocache. Micro, Small, Regular, Large and ? (unknown).

A micro is about the size of an old school film container (commonly used). Smalls can range from pill bottles to small square plastic boxes. Regular sized caches are plastic boxes or ammo cans. A large size could be a 5 gallon bucket or larger. An unknown cache is just that, you don’t know the size. We have found some that are as big as a tree! And some that are as small as the tip of your pinky finger (often called nano).

The website has the size noted on the geocache page. It is helpful to know what size you are looking for when you go out for the search! For example if you are looking for a micro you know that you will need to look in small places, but it if is a regular you know that the container is going to be larger and will search in places where a larger container could be hidden.

Geocache Types

There are many different types of geocaches to find. Each type provides a different experience for the seeker. From Traditional to Puzzle you are sure to find one you enjoy!

Traditional Caches are by far the most popular. A Tradition cache is when the cords are directly given. You go to the location and then search for the cache. When you find the cache you sign the log book, trade swag and then rehide the container.

My next favorite type of cache is a puzzle cache. A puzzle cache gives the seeker and puzzle to work on to figure out the cords to find the cache. Puzzles can range from simple to very complex. The satisfaction of completing a puzzle and then finding the cache is a great thrill, not to mention you can work on puzzles at home when the weather is not ideal for geocahing. One of my favorite puzzles caches was based in Nursery Rhymes. There were many different stops along the way with mini-puzzles to solve. My mom (Glenda Griggs) and I spent lots of time going over the puzzles and getting the answers. In the end we had many fun memories of the hunt and even became friends with the hider!

A multi cache is sort of a combination of traditional caches and puzzle caches. You are given the cords to start at. When you get to that first location you find information rather than a cache. That information this leads you to the next location where you are then to repeat the process. There is a cache hidden at the final location. Multi caches often are wonderful for learning about a particular location. This is how I found out many historical facts about the City of Lakewood, WA. Things that I have driven past my entire life that I never knew about!

If you enjoy learning about the world we live in then Earth Caches are the caches for you. Earth Caches give you the cords to a location that has geological information. There is no hidden container to find, rather you are to learn about the location and answer questions. Talk about making learning fun. My children are actually interested in reading the information boards and learning! Sometimes it is required that you take and post a picture of yourself on the geocaching website to claim the cache.

There are other types of caches that you may run across, they are Virtual Cache, Web Cam, and Events. Virtual require you to take a picture at the location and find information. Web Cams require to visit a location and have your picture take on the web cam! Very fun! The best is the Event Caches. If you are looking to meet other geocachers then Event Caches are the place to do so!

Personal Experiences

My family began geocaching in December 2008. I learned about Geocaching from a friend in October and asked Santa for a GPS for Christmas! I must have been very good that year because Santa came thru! I opened my GPS and was so excited to begin. We tried to find our first Geocache and soon after we were hooked! We have found over 800 caches to date. Every time we go on a trip we are able to find at least one. Our most memorable are finding Pooh Corner homes hidden in the woods. Geocaching has provided our family with many memorable outhings and the fraction of the cost! I hope you enjoy the hunt as much as we do!

Kim Sandusky (aka Yuvee Mimi Bug Snip)


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