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During the hustle and bustle of the Holiday Season, I took some time to ponder the question: What is it about geocaching that attracts so many people? Why does it appeal to so many different ages, different ethnicities, different types of people? Where does the magic of geocaching come from?

I think I’ve found the answer.

Geocaching is a GIFT

There are many hobbies that require skill, training, taking a class, etc. Geocaching is not one of them. Download an app to your smartphone and you’re good to go. Of course there are skills (like using a map and compass, orienteering, rock-climbing, scuba diving, etc.) which can enhance your experience or allow you to seek certain geocaches, but they aren’t required.

Geocaching appeals to a broad range of ages. Young families take their small children out on geocaching adventures all the time. Older retired people are some of the most avid geocachers we know!  There is no age limit, no age requirement. Geocaching is something you can do for your entire life.

Geocaching is free, or at least cheap! If you have a smartphone, the apps are free or very inexpensive. You may spend some money on gas or eating out or maybe a new pair of hiking boots – but it’s not going to drain your wallet on an ongoing basis as some hobbies do.

There are MANY gifts that geocaching provides

The gift of community

Geocaching is a hobby that can be done alone or with a group, but no matter which way is your preference, you are still connected to the worldwide geocaching community. A quick search just now yielded over 3200 events coming up in the next few months worldwide. Geocachers love to get together. They thrive on the fun of comparing notes, trading collectibles, and bragging of accomplishments. They revel in friendships that would have never happened if not for this hobby. They travel the world and find friends in unexpected places. They post a picture on social media and get world-wide likes from strangers who can relate to their story.

The gift of connection

Have you ever walked up to a geocache and found some other people there, looked at them and saw their GPSr or smartphone and said, “Oh, you too?” That’s connection. There’s a bond that runs tightly through the geocaching community. It’s that feeling of “you get me”, even when your family and most of your friends quite frankly think there’s something just a little wrong with you! The connection of geocaching is found in the shared experience, the shared adventure, even the shared competition! It’s even found in the disagreements and debates we see on social media and in the forums – because we feel passionately about this hobby and how we think it should be played and even THAT connects us together.

The gift of discovery and exploration

The most common answer to “What do you love most about geocaching?” is some version of this statement: “Because it takes me to places I never would have found or seen, even in my own local community.” Geocaching allows us to discover… unique places, amazing beauty, historical locations. With geocaching we can also discover the humor and creativity of fellow geocachers, new strength and abilities in ourselves, and a whole new world of hidden gems that most people walk right by every day.

The gift of challenging yourself

We have heard the stories of SO many ways that geocaching has helped people to challenge themselves. The socially shy person who went out on a limb and hosted her first geocaching event. The geocacher who pushed himself to hike farther and longer, and in the process improved his health. The many cachers who revel in the geocaching challenges and plan their caching runs to get the specific caches they need to meet the challenge. The dad who pulled his teens off the couch and enjoyed a few hours of connection while hiking to the next cache. The weight loss, the new friends, the lowered blood pressure, the lifting of depression, the strength to endure a difficult season of life – these are also the gifts of geocaching.

The gift of FUN

Why do geocachers get out and go geocaching? Because it’s FUN and they enjoy it! There are as many different reasons as there are geocachers around the world, but most of them boil down to this: it’s enjoyable. Now, your “enjoyable” may be different than mine! It could be a 10 mile hike for a single cache, or a quick run to the park with your kids for 1 cache and some playground time. It might be a group excursion to a well known night cache, or a numbers run along a power trail. Whatever YOUR geocaching choice is, it’s enjoyable for YOU. And that’s what makes geocaching so special. Why it’s a gift that keeps on giving to those who participate. Whether you geocache in every spare moment and are the highest finder in your country, or you find a cache once a month when you feel the inspiration hit – geocaching is for YOU. And it’s fun. What a GIFT.

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Leave a comment below to share YOUR favorite gift from geocaching!

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