Interested in Geocaching basics? Learn everything you could ever want to know on my post, Kids Stuff: Geocaching Adventures.
If ever there has been a perfect time to get into Geocaching, it’s right now. All summer long, brand new cachers have started popping up on the scene, looking for new and fun ways to get their families out of isolation and into the wide, wide world. Groundspeak, knowing their game naturally appeals to the more, shall we say, introverted decided to take this opportunity to reinvent Lab Caches. Way back when, Lab Caches were a cache type that involved exploring an area and answering questions about it on a separate website, much the way the new Adventure Lab Caches work. However, tech being what it was, things got a little hairy, cell towers got jammed, and though you left with a smiley, you also had a few new gray hairs.
The first time we saw a Lab Cache was when we attended GeoWoodstock XIII way back in 2015. With thousands of cachers in attendance, signing logs on the physical caches in and around Boonsboro, Maryland got to be an impossible task. Are you really finding a cache if it’s physically in the hands of a hundred people standing in line ahead of you? They offered up Lab Caches that were findable for a certain amount of time, and man were they creative. Check out this video by The Geocaching Vlogger.
As the years passed, technology improved, and apps like Pokemon Go started getting popular, Geocaching decided to take steps toward meeting the expectations of veteran and new cachers alike. I mean, how many micros can you find before you’re bored? To start, they reinstated another archived cache type, the Virtual. Out of the blue, cachers started receiving invitations to create their own virtual caches, and with lots of creativity and a little freedom, some really cool new listings started popping up at locations where physical containers simply weren’t allowed (or would be difficult to maintain).
We got an invitation to create a Virtual Cache and decided to highlight the largest solar installation in the Washington, DC area at FedEx Field, home of the Washington Football Team. Entitled “Greenskins,” our virtual spotlights the solar array containing more than 8,000 panels that generates the amount of energy equivalent to two and a half times the power consumed during regular season game days. The real star, however, is the 30-foot tall quarterback statue dubbed “Solar Man.” To make the find, cachers need to take a picture of the Solar Man and post it to their log. Simple as that! We love it when the notifications come in on game days… here are a few of our favorite logs.
Follow us on Instagram to share in our adventures and see what kinds of caches we’re publishing! @team_ngeocaching
The Virtual’s went over well, but two years have passed since they first made a comeback and with the pandemic pushing everyone outside, Geocaching went one step further and started inviting cachers to create brand new Adventure Lab caches.
So, what IS an Adventure Lab, anyway? These are location-based puzzles that take you from one spot to another, collecting information and answering questions as you go, earning a smiley for each stage you complete. Unlike traditional, multi, and mystery caches, there aren’t physical containers hidden anywhere. Instead, you’re sleuthing for information that you’re entering into the Adventure Lab app. The app utilizes geofencing to verify that players are, indeed, on location and a fun interface to make logging each stage interesting. While they work out the kinks – and there are some – Geocaching is only opening these up to a limited number of experienced premium member cachers, but they seem to hope that everyone will be able to publish their own in the future.
We were excited to receive an invitation to create our own Adventure Lab, and knew exactly what we wanted to do; a retelling of Edgar Allan Poe’s short story, “The Oval Portrait” using the Virginia Museum of Fine Art to set the scene. Our The Oval Portrait Adventure Lab combines clips of the 1934 silent film based on the short story to tell the tale of an artist so obsessed with his work that he neglects to notice he’s painted the life out of his young wife. Using artwork from the American Art gallery, we were able to pull together the story in a way we feel is interesting and, certainly, not possible were an Adventure Lab not given to us. Most new Adventure Labs are associated with a Bonus Cache that provides a physical container with a log inside, just for the fun of it. We’re so grateful to the fine folks at the Poe Museum in Richmond for allowing us to place our “The Oval Portrait Adventure Lab BONUS” on-site. How cool is that?
How do you find Adventure Labs near you? Download the Adventure Lab app on the App Store or Google Play and follow the instructions. Then, hit the pavement (or dirt or polished museum floor) to start collecting clues and smileys. It’s truly that easy.
Adventure Labs and Scouting
As units move toward a virtual Year in Scouting, Geocaching makes for the perfect adventure companion. It teaches Scouts all about GPS technology, gets them outdoors, takes them to new and exciting places, is great for families, and easily the most socially distanced game of all time. Look up your local Adventure Labs, find one that will take your Scouts somewhere interesting, and send them on their way. Make a video of yourself at some of the locations explaining what Adventure Labs are, how to access them, and what they’ll find along the way. Challenge your Scouts to find specific caches and report back on their experiences. Geocaching (and Adventure Labs) are a great way to keep it simple and make it fun.
Have you tried Geocaching yet? What’s your favorite find? Will you try finding Adventure Labs? Let me know in the comments, and don’t forget to like and follow Look Wider Still. Thank you!
Yours in Scouting,