Tuesday, May 19, 2020

Geocaching as a Preparedness Skill

I recently  read an article which pointed out that 2020 is the 20th anniversary of the GPS game known as geocaching. This made me realize that my first geocaching find was almost 17 years ago, and that blew me away! Thinking about all of this made me realize there are some valuable skills that can be gleaned from a fun outdoors game.

The obvious first skill is proficiency with your GPS unit or the GPS on your phone. You'll learn to quickly and cleanly use its various features, as well as setting routes, waypoints, and the like. Land navigation is a valuable skill, and geocaching is a fun, cheap way to practice.

Secondly, geocaching teaches some gray man skills. Geocachers refer to non-geocachers as "muggles," and keeping caches secret from muggles is necessary to protect them. Geocachers quickly develop the ability to look for something in public without appearing to do anything interesting, and there are a lot of times in life when appearing entirely unremarkable is a valuable thing.

Also, sometimes cachers have to be quick on their feet. Very early in my caching life, I rolled up to a cache when a Jeep rolled up right behind me. I was quite active in a local caching forum at the time, and this Jeep had a vanity plate that I recognized as a user of the forum. Two people looking at a tree are fairly unremarkable, but five of us got a bit of attention. A couple kids at the playground near us started asking questions, and I don't remember who came up with it, but one of us declared us to be "tree scientists," and all of us immediately ran with it. The kids were satisfied, we found and logged the cache, and went on our way with a good laugh and a story.

One other, less obvious skill is the ability to set up, hide, and recover a cache. If your bug-out plans include a specific location like family property or something, caching durable supplies there can prove useful, and knowing how to protect your cache from the elements and the curious ensure that it will be there when you need it. Learning how to place it and mark the location means that you can find it when you come back to retrieve the contents. That's the entire heart and soul of geocaching, and it's a useful skill from time to time.

If all of this sounds interesting, Geocaching.com has all of the information you need to get started. I started out using a Garmin GPS, and it has certain advantages, but with modern cell phones you already have everything you need to find your first geocache sitting in your pocket. You'll get outside and get sunshine and exercise at the very least, and you may acquire a few handy skills in the process.


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