Memorial Geocaching:

A Tool to Help You Fill an Empty Space in Your Heart.©

Geocaching 101 – How to get started.

This Page assumes that you are not familiar with geocaching and provides a brief overview of geocaching in general.

"What is geocaching?"

Geocaching is an activity enjoyed the world over.

Wikipedia says that geocaching is “... an outdoor recreational activity, in which participants use a Global Positioning System (GPS) receiver [GPSr] or mobile device and other navigational techniques to hide and seek containers, called ‘geocaches’ or ‘caches’, anywhere in the world.” We can't improve on that definition!

If you're interested in the history of geocaching, variations, technology, etc., you can visit the Wikipedia geocaching article. (You won't need to know geocaching history to have fun!)

"What do I need to start geocaching?"

If you've made it this far, you're curious enough!
Internet access
You'll use the Web to find listings of geocaches.
If you've got one or more friends who are already geocachers, you could tag along with them and geocache as a team.
A free account at WWW.Geocaching.Com. There are explicit instructions and illustrations below.
Accounts are free! Later, you can upgrade to a premium account if you want to, but there's no pressure. There are thousands, if not millions, of geocachers who have only free accounts.
You can start out as a guest, but you'll miss the satisfaction of keeping track of the caches that you find and other benefits of (basic / free) membership.
You will need an email address to confirm your identity, or you can login using your Facebook account. You will not receive spam or other unwanted email from WWW.Geocaching.Com!
Some kind of GPS receiver (GPSr).
Ideally, your GPS receiver will be hand-held.
If you have a GPS-enabled cell phone, you're all ready!
If you have a GPS receiver that you normally plug into your car for driving directions (and has its own {rechargeable] battery), you can use that GPS unit. Please just be aware that it may not be as accurate as a specialized unit.
If you have only a GPS receiver that is built into your car, you will find geocaching much more challenging. You will have to rely on landmarks from the map, such as roads, streams and other bodies of water, and buildings.
You do not have to buy a special GPS receiver just for geocaching!
A pencil or a pen.
You'll want to write your geocaching name in the logbook of each cache that you find.
A notepad (optional).
You may want to make notes about caches you find (or don't find).
You don't need to buy any books! Everything you need is free online!
When the weather outside is bad, and you enjoy curing up with a book (as opposed to looking at a tablet / laptop / desktop monitor), a book is an option.

"OK; I've got that stuff covered. When do I actually start geocaching?"

Right now! Go to WWW.Geocaching.Com and log in using your username and password (or "Explore as a guest").
On the Home Page, you'll see "Sign Up", "Log In", and "Explore as a guest" options (even if they're not worded exactly that way).
Tell the website where you are (or where you'd like to look for geocaches).
You can enter your ZIP Code (or Postal Code) or search by location name.
You'll see a list of geocaches in or near the location you entered.
The caches will be listed in nearest-to-farthest-away order.
You'll see a circular icon to the left of each cache name. A green circle with a white box in it means that particular cache is probably good for beginners.
The name of the cache, the username of owner, and other data are provided. (Hint: If the "Last Found" date for that cache isn't within the last year, ignore it. It may have been moved or vandalized.)
One of the important pieces of data is the "GC...." ID. It will look like "GC" followed by random letters and digits. The "GC" stands for GeoCache. The whole "GC...." ID tells the Geocaching.Com database which cache it is, because two or more caches can have the same name.
Click on the cache that you want to try finding and you'll be taken to a webpage that is specifically for that geocache.
You'll see much more information on the particular geocache's webpage, including the cache's all-important latitude and longitude (GPS coordinates).
Paying special attention to the "Difficulty" and "Terrain" ratings, read as much as you want to about your chosen cache.
"Difficulty" and "Terrain" ratings start at 1 and go up to 5.
"Difficulty" means how hard you'll probably need to search to find the cache. 1 means it may be in plain sight when you get to the coordinates. 5 means you will definitely have to do some serious hunting.
"Terrain" ratings tell you how hard you'll have to walk / climb / scramble to get to the exact cache location. 1 means it is like walking down a sidewalk. 5 means you have to be in very good physical shape. Use caution and common sense. Don't get hurt!
Many cache owners provide hints that may help you locate the cache container.
If you have a printer that you can use to print the webpage that you're looking at, you'll probably find it handy.
(Hint: You will probably need to print only hardcopy page one, if your computer lets you select how many of the webpage's hardcopy pages to print.)
Take a good look at the maps on the cache's webpage.
Paying attention to streets, highways, parks, etc. should tell you how close you can get to the cache by driving. Don't walk through thorns and brush if you can drive to within feet of the cache!
If the cache is near you, you may be able to walk to it.
Walking distance: Set your GPS receiver to pedestrian mode and go.
Driving distance: Set your GPS receiver to automobile (vehicle) or bicycle mode and get as near the cache as you can while riding in comfort. When your wheels have gotten you as close as they can safely, set your GPS receiver to pedestrian mode and continue on your way.
When you are at or near the cache coordinates, you will use your eyes to locate the cache container.
Your GPS receiver will probably get you near the cache container, but unless the difficulty level is very low don't expect to see the cache immediately. Different models of GPS receivers have different accuracy. One GPSr may get you within 30 feet of the cache, while another may put you just inches from the cache.
Geocaches are never buried! You may have to look under leaves, under rocks or logs, or inside a hollow tree, but you should never dig.
Do not take apart walls! A cache may be hidden in a stone wall. If your GPSr tells you that the cache is in a stone wall, please do not take the wall apart. A flashlight is handy to look into crevices. Once you have found the cache (or especially if you haven't) please put everything back the way it was.
You will develop a geo-sense when you have found from ten to a couple of dozen caches.
When you have found the cache container, open it and sign the log.
If you are looking for a nano- or micro-cache, the only thing inside the container may be the log. Micros can be very difficult to find, and nanos nearly impossible; that's why they are not recommended for most beginning geocachers.
When you have signed the log, put everything back where it was (and the way it was) when you found the cache.
Hiding the cache container the same way that you found it is part of making geocaching fair and fun for everyone.
Make notes on your pad so that you can log your find on Geocaching.Com.
You can make personal notes that would help you find the cache more quickly if you need to get it again. Why? If the log were full, you might decide to return and donate a new logbook in appreciation of the person who hid the cache originally.
When you get home, log your cache find(s) on Geocaching.Com.
Every cache find that you log on Geocaching.Com will increase your confidence and your reputation.
If there is a problem with the cache (missing logbook, wet inside, etc.) you will be helping the cache owner fix the problem.
Please don't Post spoilers! Everyone deserves the right to find the cache on their own. That's what makes geocaching fun.

"Is that all there is to geocaching?"

No! There's a lot more to geocaching than finding one geocache (or even a hundred geocaches).

Once you've found and logged a number of other people's caches, you may decide to create and hide a memorial geocache of your own.

Geocachers have widely varying ideas about how many caches you should have found and logged before you are ready to hide a new cache. Some cachers say a minimum of 50 found caches, some say 200; Geocaching.Com says you should have found 100 caches before you place one of your own.

The best reason for having to find a number of caches before attempting to make and hide your own cache is that you need to get a feel for how geocaching really works in practice, not just in theory. Because you'll be creating a memorial geocache, you'll most likely want it to be found. You'll also want people to have fun finding your cache. Geocachers like creative caches and often talk about them, both in person and on the internet.

Finding a cache should not be as easy as walking up to a sign that says "There's a geocache here!" nor as difficult as mountain climbing.

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Creating your own Geocaching.Com account:

The single most important geocaching website is WWW.Geocaching.Com.
You will need to create a free account for geocaching.
Entering your email address is easy.
You will not receive spam or other unwanted email!
Choose a username and password.
For their usernames, most people use some variation on their first name plus something to with where they live; other people use humorous or fanciful monikers.
Your password should something with letters and numbers that you can remember easily, but would be hard for other people to guess.
You must agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy to be able to create your account.
When you're ready, click Continue.
You'll get a confirmation email.
Follow the instructions to validate your account.
You're all set!
Welcome to the world of geocaching!

Please take enough time to find a wide variety of cache containers, small, regular, and large. Please remember, your goal is to have fun and learn what people expect about a geocache before you hide your own memorial geocache.

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Example screenshots

Signing up for a Geocaching.Com account.

Account confirmation received.

Welcome to geocaching!

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