Nature Canada

Geocaching: The Outdoor Treasure Hunt for You and Your Family

Geocaching is the real-world treasure hunt happening all around you—and you can join in! Activity participants use GPS satellites and coordinates to hide and retrieve containers hidden in outdoor locations around the world!

The origins of geocaching go back to 2000 and the launch of the world’s first GPS satellites. For fun, an American man hid a container in the woods and posted the map coordinates online for others to find. Soon, early adopters of the hobby started hiding more caches for people to discover. And discover they did! There are now millions of geocaches placed around the world and across Canada.

Caches vary in size, appearance, and contents. Some contain little “treasures” left behind by the last person who found it—you can even swap out an item and leave one behind. One feature that remains constant is a logbook located near each hiding place. There, people can note the date in which they found the cache.

Geocache locations also vary in difficulty. You can view cache locations and other information (including the difficulty level) on the Geocaching app or website before you start hunting. You can also use the app or website to find hints and read the experience other participants have had while searching for each cache.

Can I Geocache While Following Physical Distancing Guidelines?

Yes! Nature is one of our strongest allies when practicing physical distancing. Vitamin “Nature” can boost moods, reduce anxiety and insomnia, and help us cope and grieve

Physical activity may not be at the top of your priority list right now, and that’s entirely understandable. We are all adjusting to this temporary “new normal” together. That includes navigating the closures of our usual sports facilities, some parks, and playgrounds—as well as ensuring our loved ones stay healthy and safe. 

Geocaching is the ideal way for individuals or families to responsibly get out into the fresh air and exercise. The mention of a treasure hunt will undoubtedly spark the interest of even the most skeptical child. 

There are, however, recommended ways of geocaching safely during the COVID-19 pandemic. For one, you should avoid physically touching the cache. Fortunately, modern technology is here to help. You can use the Geocaching app or website to record when you’ve found a cache and share your experience. You can even upload a photo for others to later use as a hint. 

Second, please take caution if your little ones are curious about the contents of a cache: have your kids at a safe distance, use disposable gloves to open the cache, and carry hand sanitizer to use both before and after handling the container. Nature Canada follows the public health directives set by Health Canada, including the suggestion of maintaining a minimum two metre distance from non-family members and housemates. This means giving others the appropriate space when you’re geocaching—no matter how cute their dog may be!

Find the Geocaching app in your phone’s app store or visit the website. You can search for caches in your area after you create an account. So grab your phone, your outdoor gear, and your treasure hunters’ attitude, and get searching! 

Editor’s note: This blog post was updated on Monday, March 30 to reflect the shift in language from “social distancing” to “physical distancing.”

Nature Canada thanks the frontline medical workers for their efforts during this time. We follow the advice of the World Health Organization and Health Canada. Please visit these two websites for the latest information on how to protect you and your family from COVID-19.

Nature is also important to our health and well-being and we hope you’ll consider supporting our efforts to save nature. Thank you for caring!

Yours in nature, the Nature Canada team.

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