Geocaching: a global game for everyone

Tech. Sgt. Rian Hudson, 30th Security Forces Squadron NCOIC of confinement, conceals his homemade geocache, June 11, 2015, Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif. Geocaching is a global game in which players conceal caches and upload the coordinates to a website for other players to find via Global Positioning System devices. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Ian Dudley/Released)

Tech. Sgt. Rian Hudson, 30th Security Forces Squadron NCOIC of confinement, conceals his homemade geocache, June 11, 2015, Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif. Geocaching is a global game in which players conceal caches and upload the coordinates to a website for other players to find via Global Positioning System devices. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Ian Dudley/Released)

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- Tech. Sgt. Rian Hudson, 30th Security Forces Squadron NCOIC of confinement, scouts a forested area near Lompoc for the perfect place to conceal his homemade geocache.

Hudson has been geocaching for a year now and recently started making and hiding his own caches for people to find. This latest cache is made out of an ammo can and themed as a memorial to MIA/POW's.

Geocaching can take place anywhere and can be done anytime. No specialized equipment is needed; just a cell phone with a Global Positioning System application to find the hidden caches of knick-knacks that constitute 'treasure'. Some of these items are then traded and the visitor log inside is signed. The container is then re-hidden the way it was found.

"Geocaching is like hide-and-seek and treasure hunting with a GPS," said Hudson. "One 'player' will go out and hide a container, ranging in size from a tiny magnetic tube to a large trash container that will withstand the elements and nature. There are numerous different types, shapes and sizes and some are themed. When you hide a container you then upload its coordinates to the geocaching website with a description of the terrain, difficulty and any clues or puzzles to solve in order to find and open it and get to the log book inside."

Air Force Space Command Airmen play an important role in maintaining this activity; by providing GPS accessibility to the rest of the world. 

"The mission at Vandenberg specifically provides the ability to utilize GPS," said Hudson. "Without the satellites operated from Space Command bases, geocaching would not exist."

Geocaches can be anywhere, from easy to find micro-caches on lamp posts to difficult to find caches in the middle of the ocean. There is even a cache orbiting the earth in the International Space Station.

"There may be some at the top of a mountain where you must have rock climbing gear in order to get to it," said Hudson. "There may be one underwater where you must dive down to find it. Some are out on islands where you need to get a canoe and paddle out to it. Geocaches are almost everywhere you go."

Due to the variety of caches and difficulty levels the sport has collected a varied following.

"Geocaching is a global, interactive treasure hunt," said Kyle Wright, 30th Space Wing aerospace engineer risk analyst. "I have been to Costa Rica and found geocaches on remote beaches. It is something for all ages to do, from little kids to adults."

Geocaching started with the public availability of precision GPS devices.

"Geocaching began in the year 2000 when GPS was enabled for the general public," said Hudson. "Originally GPS was military only and it was opened up to the public for use on their personal devices. It began with one person hiding a container and posting coordinates on a blog and has grown into an activity now with almost three million geocaches worldwide."

For military members that move frequently, geocaching offers a way for individuals and families to get to know an area relatively quickly.

"It is exciting, you get to see places you wouldn't normally see if you are new to an area, and it's a good way to explore," said Wright. "You don't get tangible rewards from geocaching; it's purely for the joy of getting outside and trying to find things."

For more information on geocaching contact Tech. Sgt. Hudson at 805-606-3178