Inside the World of Geocaching

©istockphoto/tobiMod­ern day trea­sure hunt­ing might be an accu­rate descrip­tion of the world of geo­caching. All around you, prob­a­bly with­in a mile of where you sit right now, there are lit­er­al­ly mil­lions of these cached trea­sures clev­er­ly hid­den among your dai­ly rou­tine. And this com­mu­ni­ty-start­ed, com­mu­ni­ty-dri­ven adven­ture plat­form is con­tin­u­ing to grow, gain­ing momen­tum, and stash­ing new caches every day.

To get a lit­tle insight on the world of geo­caching, from where it began to where it’s going, Christy Weck­n­er from Geocaching.com (the lead­ing plat­form for the geo­caching com­mu­ni­ty) was hap­py to shed a lit­tle light on these hid­den treasures.


www.Geocaching.com The Clymb: How did the idea for Geo­caching begin?

Christy Weck­n­er: Most peo­ple think that the sport is brand new but geo­caching came to be in the year 2000 when the US gov­ern­ment allowed civil­ians to access the satel­lite GPS Data, that’s when peo­ple were able to get more accu­rate with the des­ti­na­tions they were seeking.

A gen­tle­man in Ore­gon was the first not­ed per­son to hide a geo­cache (Matt Stum), he put the coor­di­nates online and with­in 3 days some­one had found it. The cre­ator of Ground­speak at that time had the idea of cre­at­ing a host­ing ser­vice where you could post sim­i­lar coor­di­nates, so that’s what he did, and the site went live with 75 post­ed geo­caching loca­tions in the year 2000.


The Clymb: Cel­e­brat­ing their 15th year anniver­sary in 2015, Ground­speak (the busi­ness name that oper­ates Geocaching.com) now has 2,676,238 active geo­caches and grow­ing, cou­pled with over 6 mil­lion users that par­tic­i­pate in the sport. What’s your role in the world of geocaching?

CW: Geo­caching was start­ed by the com­mu­ni­ty, and we cer­tain­ly don’t take cred­it for start­ing the idea, we like to think we are here to sup­port the com­mu­ni­ty of geo­cachers, and we try to pro­vide tools and resources to help them make geo­caching more fun and easier.


www.Geocaching.comThe Clymb: While Geo­caching is com­mu­ni­ty dri­ven, Geocaching.com seems to be the piece that con­nects that com­mu­ni­ty. Is there any­thing else you do to get peo­ple out­side and searching?

CW: Cache In Trash Out events are amaz­ing envi­ron­men­tal ini­tia­tives, which are again host­ed by the com­mu­ni­ty, and we cre­ate a plat­form for peo­ple to post their event details, and mem­bers of the com­mu­ni­ty then host these hyper-local events to either pick up trash, remove inva­sive species, or plant some new flow­ers to beau­ti­fy the land. It doesn’t nec­es­sar­i­ly have to be a trash pick-up, just some­thing that is good for the envi­ron­ment. A lot of times orga­niz­ers will work with the local parks depart­ment to make these events a success.”

And besides the Cache in Trash Out (CITO) events, there are many dif­fer­ent ways to get involved with the geo­cache com­mu­ni­ty through Ground­speak, includ­ing the events post­ing page, social media out­lets, and by sim­ply find­ing a geo­cache and writ­ing your name down in the log book. And as for the peo­ple who can par­tic­i­pate, not sur­pris­ing­ly with the num­ber of geo­caches out there, there’s lit­tle lim­it to the demo­graph­ics of the geo­caching world.

Gecoach­ing is real­ly for any­one, when we look at our users it is real­ly full of every­one. It attracts fam­i­lies, cou­ples, and retirees, and recent­ly we have seen an increase in the mil­len­ni­als. Geo­caches range from dif­fi­cul­ty across the board includ­ing wheel­chair acces­si­ble loca­tions to the most dif­fi­cult geo­caches requir­ing nav­i­ga­tion across hard ter­rain, which are known as T5 and com­prise 2% of the total geocaches.


www.Geocaching.com Christy spoke about a geo­cache near Groundspeak’s office in Seat­tle that con­sists of an old tele­phone booth, and to access the cache, one needs to type in the cor­rect pass­code on the dial-pad, and while not every geo­cache is as rem­i­nis­cent of a James Bond movie, they all have their own amount of cre­ativ­i­ty and engi­neer­ing. Rang­ing from the size of a thim­ble to a large geo­log­i­cal for­ma­tion, geo­caches are as unique and vary­ing as the com­mu­ni­ty that hides and finds them.

With the advent of smart­phones in near­ly every pock­et across the world, Geo­caching has nev­er been eas­i­er. All one needs to do to start is head on over to Geocaching.com to cre­ate your free account and search for geo­caches near you, and pre­pare to be sur­prised as to how many are with­in a short bike ride away. While you are at the web­site, you can check out the com­mu­ni­ty forums, geo­caching blog, or the 75-sec­ond Geo­caching 101 Video: