LANSING, Mich. — Do you like treasure hunts, outdoor adventures and discovering new things in your neighborhood? Well then, geocaching is for you.
The high-tech treasure hunt is one of the biggest treasure hunts in the world.
"The idea is to go find 'caches,' as they're called. They're hidden anywhere," said Tom Skelton, a member of the Michigan Geocaching Organization.
Caches are containers hidden in secret locations by geocachers. There are more than 3 million hidden worldwide. You use GPS coordinates to search for caches that are hidden and waiting for you to discover. And every geocache has a terrain rating and a difficulty rating to let you know what you're getting into.
"There's one at the South Pole. But I bet you don't know how many hundreds are within 10-miles of the Michigan state Capitol building. There are over 700 caches within a 10-mile circle," Skelton said.
Skelton has been geocaching since 2006. He has found over 6,000 caches in all 48 of the lower states, Washington D.C, and two other countries. He says caches can come in different sizes and can be filled with almost anything you can imagine.
"I've found books and I've found CDs. I've found a computer interface card in one once, lots of kids' toys," Skelton said. "I've found money, quarters and dollar bills."
But don't get too excited. That doesn't mean you get free stuff. There are rules you have to follow. Once you find the hidden cache, you put your name and date on the log.
"If there are trinkets or toys like that you can trade-in and out. The ethic is, if you take something out of a geocache, you put something back in that is at least equal or better value," Skelton said.
Aaron Jeffery lives in Eaton Rapids and says he stumbled into geocaching back in 2010. He brought other people into geocaching games including his son.
"It's fun to see the excitement especially the bigger ones where there are trinkets in there because he's like what can I pick out to play with," Jeffery said. "Also it's teaching him about getting out in nature and you're not sitting in front of a TV and in front of a video game all the time. There are things to do outside."
Jeffery even used it as an opportunity to propose to his fiance Rachel Sherrell back in April.
"I've been thinking about it for a little while and that particular geocache was one that we worked really hard on. There were hidden puzzles that we had to solve to be able to even figure out where this thing was," Jeffery said.
He says it was probably one of the most difficult caches that they had ever done and it just felt like the right moment.
"I was super nervous and I'm like how am I going to ask this," Jeffery said. "It kind of popped in my head. I'm going to pull out a pocket full of stuff. She's pulling out the log to write in and so I'm kind of getting stuff around in my pocket and I go, 'What should we put in here?'"
"I had to look twice. I wasn't sure that I really saw what I thought I saw. But of course, I was super excited and I'm like we're definitely not leaving that," Sherrell said.
Geocaching is for everyone so you can bring your kids, family or friends to join in on the fun.
"We've seen a lot of people with their families and a lot of couples. A lot of people get together and just go with other individuals so it can kind of be a way for people to kind of meet new people," Sherrell said.
The Michigan Department of Natural Resources also teamed up with the Michigan Geocaching Organization and Jay’s Sporting Goods. They released 50 new geocaches statewide you can find. This is to celebrate the DNR's 100th anniversary and Jay’s Sporting Goods’ 50th anniversary.
The Michigan Geocaching Organization is also having an event on Aug, 21 at Sleepy Hollow State Park where you can learn more about the hobby.
If you would like to sign up for a free geocaching profile or would like more information click here.
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