May 26, 2018
Living Latest News | Poll Questions | Memorial Day | Bangor Day Trips | Center for Wildlife

The Basics of Geocaching

By Khela Kupiec, Special to the BDN

Why didn’t Geocaching start earlier?

Ten years ago on May 2, the Global Positioning System Selective Availability was turned off, giving civilian GPS users accuracy that until then had been reserved for the military. With a figurative flick of the switch, not only could civilians tell which football field they were standing in, better yet, they knew which yard marker they were on, according to The National Executive Committee for Space-Based Positioning, Navigation and Timing.

Who was the first geocacher?

In Oregon, Dave Ulmer, a computer programmer, wanted to see how accurate his GPS had become, according to, and by May 3, 2000, he had placed the first cache — a 5-gallon bucket filled with videos, books and a can of beans among other things — and he posted its coordinates online. At first it was called the GPS Stash Hunt, but because of negative connotations, “geocaching” was suggested and caught on.

What’s the best way to get started?

Sign up with a site such as or to gain access to forums where people discuss the hobby and where the coordinates for caches are posted.

What equipment is needed?

GPS-enabled devices include smart phones like the Droid or the iPhone, or the hand-held GPS devices used by outdoorsmen. These allow you to see your direction and position relative to the cache. GPS devices specifically made for the sport can be cheaper and simpler than traditional models. A Web-enabled device is also needed to log caches, get the GPS coordinates and keep in touch with the geocaching community.

How does the Global Positioning System work?

Individual GPS devices are high-tech calculators that receive signals from satellites. A GPS device needs at least three satellites to determine longitude, latitude and movement by calculating the time that it takes the satellites’ signals to reach Earth.

What is in a cache?

Caches consist of a water-proof container and a paper logbook, but larger ones contain trinkets that cachers can trade and collect.

Is caching something everyone can do?

Caches are rated for difficulty and terrain on a one-to-five scale, so people can judge what they are capable of or if a cache is kid-friendly. A 1/1 cache would be the easiest to find and the easiest to access.

Have feedback? Want to know more? Send us ideas for follow-up stories.

You may also like