Geocaching is sort of like a secret club. First, caches are probably hidden all over your neighborhood and if you don’t know they are there, you can walk right by them and be completely oblivious. Second, when you are on the hunt, you don’t want anybody else to know what you’re doing. And third, there’s a serious lack of commercials and advertisements about it, it’s mostly word-of-mouth. If you don’t know someone who does it, chances are you won’t hear about it at all.

What I’m trying to say is that it can be hard to break into the hobby if you don’t have somebody with experience helping you out. Lucky you, you know me now, and I can help! The first thing you’re going to want to do is check out the app. The official app is by a company called Groundspeak, so beware of imitators. Once you have the app, you’re ready to find your first cache!

Next, study the Geocacher’s Creed. It gives you basically the rules on how to hide caches safely and respectfully, and how to seek them without causing property damage or negatively impacting the environment.

The next thing you need to familiarize yourself with are the different types of caches. Some are official, some are just plastic containers or baggies. There are Ammo Cans, which are exactly what you think they are. They’re good to use because they stay dry and are decently sized. There are Bison or Bison tubes. You’d think these would be huge but they are not – it is the brand name of the first manufacturer. They are watertight cylinders that can be small and magnetic – perfect for hiding all kinds of places. Tiny caches are called micro regardless of what they’re made from. But there’s even smaller ones called Nanos, if you can believe that! They’re about the size of a pencil eraser and you feel pretty accomplished when you find one. There are all different kinds of things like puzzle caches, multi-caches, reverse caches, and others. Check out the Geocaching website to learn more.

There are some acronyms you’re going to want to be familiar with as well – same as the Army. “TOTT” is Tools Of The Trade. That means a GPS receiver, the app, anything that you use to find caches. There’s “BYOP” which means Bring Your Own Pencil. Usually it means that you’ll need something to sign the logbook. Another great term to know is “CITO” and that means Cache In, Trash Out – it’s something that geocachers have been doing for a long time, cleaning up trash in the areas where they are hunting. D/T will tell you the terrain difficulty. Now, in the log or on the site, you will find some things, too. There’s “DNF” which means Did Not Find. If you see enough of these noted on the cache you’re thinking of hunting for, something might have happened to it. If you are the first person to find a cache, you can write “FTF” in the logbook, and the next person can write, “STF” Another thing people write in the logbook is “TFTC” which means Thanks For The Cache, or “TFTH” (sometimes T4TH) which means Thanks For The Hide. There’s also “TNLN” that people can write meaning Took Nothing Left Nothing. If there is a “SL” added, it means Signed Logbook.

Now that you have some general knowledge, get out there and find your first cache!