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An Introduction to Geocaching

At midnight on May 1st, 2000, following an announcement by president Bill Clinton, Selective Availability (an intentional error that degraded the accuracy of the GPS transmissions) was disabled. Now any low-cost hand-held civillian GPS receiver could achieve navigational accuracy of typically 3 meters or better. With cheap and accurate GPS receivers now available to everyone, the sport of Geocaching was about to be born.

So on May 3rd, 2000 Dave Ulmer - now known as the "Father of Geocaching" - posted a message on the sci.geo.satellite-nav newsgroup announcing the very first geocache - then refered to as a "stash". Within 24 hours this cache was found, and within a month new caches were being placed all over the world.

But what exactly is Geocaching? In short, it's a high-tech treasure hunt where people use a GPS receiver to find a hidden container (known as a geocache, or cache), placed by Geocachers for other Geocachers to find.

These caches are hidden all over the world, some even in plain sight. Geocaching can take you to places you may have lived near your whole life but never knew about, they can act as a tour of a place you are visiting (if you like scenic natural environments) or can just be a great way to pass the time with the kids on a lazy Saturday afternoon. Geocaching is kid-friendly, and many caches contain trade items for kids.

Geocaching is for people of all ages with a good sense of sportsmanship and a sense of adventure. Geocachers are members of websites which allow cachers to search for nearby caches, which are then entered into a typical hand-held GPS receiver. Many modern receivers have specific geocaching features built in, but these are for convenience and are not necessary for geocaching; in fact, any GPS receiver will work just fine. There are a number of geocaching websites, you can see a list of them here.

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