Wherever you are, a treasure hunt could be at your feet. Geocaching is a global activity that can take place anywhere at any time. Participants of this outdoor hobby follow GPS coordinates to find destinations that hold geocaches, also known as caches, which are found all over the world.

Geocaching is a unique adventure because it often directs the searcher to places they would not have known about otherwise. Students who want to know the campus better can go on a geocache hunt to find out what they could be missing.

“I never even knew we had these things hidden on campus,” architecture senior Sam Richardson said during her first geocaching adventure on campus last weekend. “I haven’t been to most of these places before. We have a park. No one’s ever told me that.” 

A cache is a container that holds a log for participants to sign. Sometimes trinkets, such as marbles or small toys, can be hidden inside. Concealed from the public eye, the container can be any size, ranging from a 35 millimeter film canister to large 20-liter buckets. Sometimes caches are hidden inside fake rocks or are attached to tree branches, requiring participants to climb to reach their goal. Some caches are even found at the bottoms of lakes.

In 2011, the city of Arlington hosted a geocaching event called The Big Game to celebrate the Super Bowl. During this event, Arlington’s residents and visitors were invited to explore the city by hunting for eight geocaches hidden in local parks. Prizes were sent to the first 100 participants to register their finds online.

“The journey is more exciting than what you actually find,” said Julia Bell, a member of SouthWest Arlington Geocachers or S.W.A.G., a local geocaching group founded 10 years ago.

Larry Stevenson, UTA alumnus and group member, participated in Arlington’s most recent Cache In, Trash Out event on July 13 near Lake Arlington. Arlington has hosted several Cache In, Trash Out events to engage people in cleaning up city parks while having fun geocaching. The next clean-up event will take place on Oct. 12 at these coordinates: N 32° 37.502 W 097° 08.233. This location is about 20 minutes south of campus. 

“It’s more than just a game,” Stevenson said. “We like to do things for the community.”

Once a geocache is found, participants can sign the log inside and log their finds on the geocaching website. Items may be found inside the cache. Participants can take an item and leave one of equal or greater value in its place.

Many types of geocaches exist. “Earth caches” are educational and usually provide facts or history about the area in which they are hidden. “Virtual caches” engage geocachers with their surrounding landscape by instructing them to take pictures of the location to post online.

“When I go on vacation, I like to look for virtual caches to learn about the history of the place,” said Donna Bruton, the founder of S.W.A.G. 

Other types of geocaches include rare indoor caches and caches that can only be found at night using glow tags. The Central Library used to have a geocache in the reference section, which was removed after Eric Frierson, the librarian in charge of it, left to attend UT-Austin.

Currently, UTA has five geocaches on campus, including the oldest cache in Texas, according to Stevenson. Located at Doug Russell Park on the west side of campus, this cache is a multi-cache, which involves looking for a series of clues to get to the final destination. One of the clues needs to be retrieved from a graveyard.

After her first geocaching experience, Richardson had some tips for other students.  

“It was fun, but I would definitely recommend going when it gets cooler,” she said. “And if you are like me and get bit often, don’t forget to bring bug spray.”

@missannmai

ann.mai@mavs.uta.edu

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