Grab a GPS, a trinket and start geocaching

by Caroline Skelton, North Shore News

The growing practice of geocaching is really a simple game of hide-and-seek.

Except the seeking is done by hand-held GPS devices, and the hiding is done by geocachers keen on sharing their favourite places with the world.

The global game is a growing trend with families of all ages.

Public art co-ordinator with the North Vancouver Office of Cultural Affairs Lori Phillips shows a geocache box similar to others that are hidden in 10 spots around the city's outdoor art displays.View Larger Image View Larger Image

Public art co-ordinator with the North Vancouver Office of Cultural Affairs Lori Phillips shows a geocache box similar to others that are hidden in 10 spots around the city's outdoor art displays.

NEWS photo Paul McGrath

It's administered through the website www.geocaching.com, and encourages players to hide geocaches -- boxes containing a few trinkets (of no monetary value) and a logbook -- at a location they love.

Then adventurous geocachers, armed with GPS devices and co-ordinates found on the geocaching website, search for the box, take a trinket and replace it, or record their visit, and meanwhile, enjoy someone's special spot.

In North Vancouver, newcomers can use a network of geocache locations to find out more about the large and unique collection of public art on display in the community.

Lori Phillips, public art co-ordinator at the North Vancouver Office of Cultural Affairs, started the public art geocaching initiative a year ago, positioning 10 geocaches at public art sites around North Vancouver.

Geocachers were then invited to visit all 10, and get a comprehensive tour of North Vancouver's public art collection in the meantime.

The program proved an immediate success, and within the first six months of the program, Phillips had received 600 e-mails from people who had visited the sites and wanted to share their experience.

Phillips was thrilled with the results, and happy to see a new group of people discovering the public art that helps make North Vancouver a special place.

For those looking for an even greater challenge, many geocaches also contain "travel bugs" -- small trinkets with identifiable numbers that eager geocachers can take with them and leave at other geocache sites. Of the 10 that were placed at the North Vancouver sites, three have made their way around the world, to places as far-flung as Japan and the Netherlands.

There are many other geocaches hidden in North Vancouver, says Phillips, and she encourages everyone to bring the kids out to explore the special places in the community. All you need is a GPS tracker, and perhaps a few little trinkets to trade for the trinkets that are often hidden in the geocaches.

"It's a great, family-oriented game," she says. It's fun, cheap, and at the end of the day, "you're going to end up in a spot that someone else thinks is a special place in the world."

Visit www.geocaching.com for more information.

 





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