By Colleen Murphy
Picture yourself on a treasure hunt. OK, now imagine the “treasure” you’re looking for is not treasure at all, just a knick knack with a piece of paper inside of it to log the date and your name. Oh, and most of the time, you don’t keep what you find. You leave it there for the next person to discover. Sound fun? I promise, it is. It really is.
Geocaching is the perfect activity for all the adventurous nerds out there (like me). Using a GPS, participants can navigate their way to the specific coordinates where someone has hidden a cache. A cache is a container with a piece of paper inside on which people can record their name and the date they found the cache. The containers come in all shapes and sizes. The first one I ever found was a simple, small metal capsule. The second one I found was an R2-D2 toy.
Geocaching has picked up in popularity since it was first created in 2000. To start your search for caches, you must register for free on the Website, geocaching.com. When the site launched 16 years ago, there were 75 known caches in the world. Today, there are more than 1.4 million caches hidden around the world, according to the geocaching Website, and two of those caches can be found right here on the College’s campus.
I first geocached in Ocean City, Md., this summer. I went along the boardwalk, looking behind dumpsters and in front of shops to find the hidden items. It was so much fun and I wondered if there would be any caches for me to find when I got back to school. When I logged onto my Geocache account to see if anybody had ever hidden a cache on campus, I was thrilled to see that in 2011, someone had placed three of them at the College (one has since been taken off the site). So, the other day, my roommate and I embarked on a geocaching adventure to find what the person had hidden.
I first told the site my location. It provided me a list of all the caches in the Ewing area. In fact, there are 22 caches less than two miles from campus. But because I was doing this on-foot and there was a thunderstorm coming, I decided to stick with the two on campus.
I plugged the coordinates of the first cache the site provided me into my phone and our hunt started.
Each cache geocaching.com suggests to you comes with a description of what the item looks like and hints on how to find it. Other participants leave comments on when they found the item and their experiences of the search. Some of those commenters also provide photos of either the cache itself or the surrounding area, and you can use those as help to find the cache. Because I looked at the pictures, the first one was pretty easy to find. Still, it was really exciting to discover this little, tubular novelty that someone has planted as his or her cache. I won’t say where it was, in case you want to go find it yourself, but it was tucked away in a cranny, so you’ll need good eyes to find it. (Note: The site says this cache is “disabled,” but that’s just because the log sheet inside the cache is full — it’s still there to find.)
I wasn’t able to find the second one. My GPS led me to the white gazebo on Lake Ceva. The hints on the Website told me that the cache there is a trinket with a whale on it. My roommate and I looked all over, risking falling into the lake and getting stung by a bee to locate the cache. With the thunderstorm getting closer, we disappointingly had to give up on our search. But I plan to return to find it, so if any of you find it in the meantime, please give me some more hints.
Geocaching is certainly a lot of fun (just ask any of the 4 million people worldwide who do it), and we are lucky enough to have two on our campus for you to start off with. So get out there and join in the ranks of “Jeopardy” champion Ken Jennings, writer Perez Hilton and actors Hugh Jackman, Melissa Joan Hart, Ryan Phillippe and Ruby Rose — all of whom have declared their love for geocaching, according to the geocaching Website. Or, if you don’t want to look like a weirdo looking for something in random places, then hide some more for me so that I can take on that role for you.