This was Pokémon Go before Pokémon Go.
In fact, when geocaching, something tangible, real is actually found.
Geocaching — it’s the outdoor recreational activity in which participants use a GPS or mobile device and other navigational techniques to hide and seek containers, or caches. Not only has it existed for decades, but geocachers are still going strong, with more than a million known in the U.S. alone, as of 2021.
“It’s definitely people who like the outdoors — exploring,” said Pasco County Parks, Recreation, and Natural Resources Naturalist and Program Coordinator Rebekah Jenkins.
She runs a monthly introduction program to geocaching at Jay B. Starkey Park in New Port Richey.
“While it is popular and (Starkey Park) has more than 50 alone, it certainly takes a dip (in participation) in the summertime because it’s hot, but we do see a lot when it’s cooler.
“It’s just a super versatile activity, because it can be done anywhere,” Jenkins said.
Indeed, when using the Geocaching® app on a smartphone, it will give the locations of all and any nearby caches. Those do not have to be in a park or the woods. Caches can be found in neighborhoods, shopping plazas, even just off the side of the road.
“I think anyone who tries it, they usually grow to really enjoy it,” Jenkins said. “Especially, if they’re really into hiking and exploring.”
All around the geo
By all accounts, the first documented placement of a GPS-located cache took place in 2000 in Oregon. Since then, they’ve been scattered across the nation, and world, in the likeliest and unlikeliest places. And it’s because anyone can place a cache. There’s nearly nothing ‘official’ about it — all one needs to do is create one and place it in either a fun or difficult (or both) location.
A cache typically is some sort of waterproof container. They vary in sizes from large to medium, to small to micro.
The only real “requirement” needed for a cache is a logbook, so that finders can log that they found it and when they did. Depending on preference, and size, the logbook could be the only thing in the cache. Or, as with several larger caches, little trinkets or toys can be left or traded by geocachers.
Finding caches varies in difficulty, depending on the clues left by the original placer and hints left by fellow geocachers on the app.
The app comes in handy, too, for keeping track of found caches.
Besides having different sizes, caches can have different themes. For instance, there can be a group of caches that might solve a mystery or finish a challenge. Each cache will give clues on how to find the next one, and several of them can come with a fun story.
Hide and seek
Jenkins says the Parks Department has yet to put any of its own caches in any Pasco County park. She says they will eventually, but by her account, there are caches in every county park, from Starkey to Withlacoochee River Park in Dade City to Cypress Creek Preserve in Land O’ Lakes. There are even several in Lake Park in Lutz, as well as Flatwoods Park in New Tampa.
For now, Jenkins says the Parks Department will continue to do monthly Geocaching 101 in Starkey, because it has been quite popular.
Plenty of people seem to enjoy coming out to seek what’s been hidden.
“It’s been a mix of experienced geocachers to first-timers, to young and old people coming out,” Jenkins said. “When it’s people who have never done it before, it’s exciting to see those people experience, and find a cache, for the first time.”
Pasco County Parks, Recreation, and Natural Resources will host a Geocaching 101 class at Jay B. Starkey Wilderness Park, at 10500 Wilderness Park Blvd., in New Port Richey, on Oct. 13 from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.
The program is to introduce participants to geocaching and to give them a chance to experience geocaching with either a smartphone or GPS unit.
Cost is $5 per person 10 years or older, and children under 18 must be accompanied by an adult. Pets are not allowed.
The program begins in the Starkey Environmental Education Center and then will go out into the park. It is recommended to bring water, bug spray and wear close-toed shoes.
Visit the Apple App Store or Google Play Store to download the Geocaching® app.
To register, visit secure.rec1.com/FL/pasco-county-fl.
For more information, email .
Published October 05, 2022