I’ve been playing Pokemon Go on and off for a few weeks now, mainly curious to see how it works, what the attraction is, and in the main, I’ve been enjoying it, though I feel the novelty might be wearing off a bit now. It does appear to have had some unexpected side effects, though – it’s got people out of the house who wouldn’t normally dream of it, it’s got young people so active that they are experiencing Pokemon Legs (i.e. aching muscles from so much exercise), and it has – inevitably – brought about new relationships.
However it has its fair share of detractors: people who think that nobody over the age of 10 should be interested in playing computer games, or perhaps people who think people should be doing better things with their time. Well for these people, and indeed for the rest of us, there is an alternative – geocaching.
Way back in the mists of time (May 3, 2000), the day after the public was allowed access to the higher accuracy GPS network, a guy called Dave Ulmer placed a bucket next to a footpath in some Oregon woodland, and posted the coördinates online. The geocache, as it was called, was found and logged by several people and the sport of geocaching was born.
It’s very easy to get involved. Sign up for an account at geocaching.com, download the (free) app on your mobile device, and search for caches near you. There are currently almost 3 million geocaches worldwide, so there are bound to be some within a short walk of your house. They range from tiny, button sized capsules to large boxes, and often contain swappables – things of little monetary value that you can take, on the condition that you replace them with something of equal or greater value, as well as travel bugs – individually numbered items that move from geocache to geocache in order to fulfil a mission, for example to travel from Cornwall to Lands End, or visit all the cathedrals in the UK.
But the best thing about geocaching is that you can do it anywhere. When I go on holiday somewhere new, I like to look for geocaches to find as, more often than not, they are concealed in interesting places, such as mountain tops, unusual buildings, or areas with beautiful views, making the trek to find them as enjoyable as the cache itself. I have discovered many places that I would never have come across otherwise through finding (or even failing to find) geocaches. And it’s another great way to get reluctant younger folk to leave their games consoles by adding purpose to what would otherwise be ‘just another boring walk’, once they’ve got bored of hunting for Pikachu…