by Simone Poyourow
In a world that doesn’t stop, and there’s always more work to do, we, as a human race, have become dependent and bound by the hip to our phones. The smart phone technology has exploded so remarkably that has made everyone’s lives easier and gratification instantaneous. Our phones can do nearly anything: order food, shop online, map out our destination, and provide entertainment. One app and new virtual phenomena has employed our reliance on technology to get us back outside. This app is called Geocaching, and creates a real-world treasure hunt for anyone of any age. With over two million locations worldwide, this is a perfect activity to help explore your surroundings whether it be an unfamiliar town, or even the city you’re most familiar with. In order to play you need a GPS-enabled device, such as your smart phone and the geocaching app. When you place your location, the app finds geocaches around you and you get to choose which ones you want to go to. Geocaches come in many different shapes, sizes and difficulty levels which makes the game sometimes a challenge, but there’s a reward at the end.
Geocaching first began on May 3rd, 2000 with a man named Dave Ulmer wanted to test the accuracy of the latest GPS technology, just released the day before. By placing a black bucket in the woods of Beavercreek, Oregon, he recorded its coordinates with his GPS device and would have to relocate the bucket by using his GPS system. Once he found the bucket he placed something in the container and took something out. He shared the coordinates of his “stash” online for others to find as well. The coordinates are N 45° 17.460 W 122° 24.800 in case you’re curious. Slowly, people heard about his game and started to play along too by recording their experiences online too. The trend spread so successfully that others began to hide their own containers and posted coordinates. The name “geocaching” was coined because the prefix geo means earth, which embodies the “global nature of the activity”, and the word cache is French for “a hiding place someone would use to temporarily store items” and the word has been used to refer to pioneers, pirates, and the like.
I took the challenge myself to try and find one of the geocaches around campus. I took along my friend Claire who’d also never geocached before. By using the app on my iPhone, it guided us through campus up to the Media Theater. As we got closer the application buzzed with excitement instructing us to keep our eyes open. As we kept getting closer and closer we approached a tree. I lifted a piece of wood and underneath I discovered a host of ants running around and above a medicine container covered with camouflage paper. Claire grabbed a stick and pulled the container out from its hiding place. I opened the container and inside were a few pieces of paper and a sign in sheet. While this was one of the most basic geocaches around campus, it was still exciting. I look forward to discovering more challenging and satisfying geocaches in the Santa Cruz area and beyond. Hopefully you and your companions can pause your hectic lives and will go out, find, and create your own geocaches amongst the 2,736,452 active geocaches. Enjoy and good luck!