Geocaching creates local treasure hunt

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A geocache is found hidden near the Bluemont Bell on campus on Dec. 9, 2015. More geocache locations can be found on campus and the surrounding neighborhoods through the offical geocaching website and app. (Miranda Snyder | The Collegian)

Treasure-seeking geocachers can be found throughout the Manhattan community. Geocaching is an outdoor treasure hunt game that uses GPS enabled devices to navigate players to specific coordinates where geocache containers are hidden.

“My favorite geocaching experience is a road trip that a couple of my friends and I took to Alabama to cache in every state along the way,” Elizabeth Stone, senior in food sciences and industry, said. “We took a weekend and drove there and back finding as many caches as we could. It was an awesome adventure and we made great memories.”

Ryan Semmel, Manhattan resident, said he has been geocaching for a little over six years and has found nearly 4,500 geocaches in 27 states and 10 countries.

“When I arrived in the area in 2012 I wanted to meet local geocachers, so I created a Facebook page: the ‘Flint Hills Geocachers,'” Semmel said. “Since moving here, I have placed almost 100 caches and have hosted 19 official events and teach a quarterly geocaching class at UFM. Now with the ease of geocaching with a smartphone many people are trying it.”

Geocachers typically use geocaching.com or the official Geocaching phone application to participate. Stone said she uses the premium version of the application on her geocaching expeditions.

“I like that apps keep people from having to invest in a GPS to get started, and I enjoy being able to look up other information on my smartphone while I am caching,” Stone said. “Also, I find the phone satellite view function really helpful when narrowing down the cache location,” Stone said.

The geocaching containers are waterproof and contain a logbook that is used by players to document the date they found the cache and the code name they use for the game. Players will often times also leave behind unique items in the container. When this occurs other geocachers are allowed to take the item if they leave something of equal or greater value in its place.

“I enjoy geocaching because it connects me with the outdoors again,” Sara Devine, graduate student in special education, said. “My husband learned about it at a marriage seminar while he was stationed in South Korea as a soldier. When he returned from South Korea, we started geocaching together. When we geocache we find the things that take you off the beaten path; we’ve seen everything from natural formations to creative containers.”

This outdoor activity has been around since the 2000s, according to geocaching.com. Over the past 15 years, over 10 million people have registered as geocachers on the website.

“There are many wonderful experiences that I have gained throughout my years of geocaching,” Semmel said. “I have had the opportunity to cache in many countries.”

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