Who doesn’t love a treasure hunt? Adventure appeals to everyone, even the cautious. However the definition of ‘treasure’ can be very subjective, depending upon the seeker. For some a treasure means something of monetary worth, while for others the thrill of the hunt is of great value. For those who have a sense of adventure, there are a couple of treasure hunting games available today because of the great strides satellite technology has made available.
Geocaching, and the newer Geocheckpointing, are outdoor searching games which use the geographic coordinates system of latitude and longitude to precisely identify where an item or specific site is located. Participants for either game engage placing, identifying, searching and finding these caches or checkpoints. Both games have a website on the internet that provides necessary information. It is highly beneficial for participants to register on the sites. Both sites have a free membership as well as a premium membership which allows for greater participation. Geocheckpointing refers to this membership as being a ‘supporter.’
The geocaching game uses geographic coordinates to lead participants to a very specific hidden ‘cache’ – usually a small securely hidden weatherproof box. The cache contains a logbook, and sometimes little valueless trinkets that can be traded. A geocaching member using the listing on the website makes note of the coordinates, and uses a GPS receiver to find the exact spot. Once found, the member records his or her name in the logbook and makes a ‘trade’ if desired. Periodically, the member returns to the website to record the find. Because the cache is so small, it is often quite difficult to make the find without using a finely tuned GPS receiver.
Geocheckpointing is very similar, in that the coordinates of the site are first available on the website. However there are several slight though very important differences. The checkpoint usually consists of a site that has its intrinsic value in the place, not the small cache. This makes it much simpler to identify and find. The site is found using the coordinates provided, and often can be found just as easily with a map as with a GPSR. Once found, the site is confirmed by a coded, weather proof tag. The code on the tag is recorded, and after a leisurely visit to the site the participant can easily record the visit upon returning home.
If you decide to participate in either game, it will not be long before you want to add sites to the registry so that others can search for YOUR treasured place or cache. Both games provide for expansion by recording new sites placed by members. This makes the games fun and builds community. There are some differences, however.
The Geocaching game encourages a seeker to find about 20 caches before attempting to hide a new cache. This acclimates the participant to the culture of the game, and allows for understanding before creating a new cache. There is also an extensive list of guidelines that must be strictly followed. Once the cache is secure, it is ‘owned’ by the person who hides it and must be maintained by the owner. If a seeker discovers that a logbook is missing, or that the cache is in disrepair, the owner must be alerted and should make the repairs as quickly as possible.
On the other hand, the Geocheckpointing game encourages participants to begin to place coded tags even if a player has not yet found a site. Participants are furthered encouraged to maintain a site if there is a need, regardless of who originally placed the marker. For instance if a tag is missing from the site, it can be replaced by any player. It is common courtesy to communicate this maintenance with the checkpoint originator. In this way the game continues, rather than waiting for the owner to make necessary repairs.
The beauty of both games is the discovery of beautiful and unusual sites that one would not visit if not for the games. Geocaching has been around for more than a decade, and there are geocaches hidden all over the world. Geocheckpointing is a brand new geo-game, with checkpoints already in place in Europe, but not yet on other continents. Right now, there are about 50 geocheckpoints near several European cities. Perhaps you know of a beautiful place you wish to share with others who would treasure it as you do. Register with both games. Have fun! And most importantly, place a couple of geocheckpoints in your hometown so that the game can spread around the world.
Read more about outdoor activity called GeoCheckpointing.