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|Amber Brooks • 9/30/16|
The Short Version: Adventurous daters can turn to Geocaching.com for the chance to explore their surroundings and meet new people in a worldwide game of hide and seek. People stash “caches” — durable treasure boxes of all shapes and sizes — in urban and rural locations and then leave clues for others to follow. Once you find the cache, you can sign the logbook, exchange tokens, and sometimes even earn a badge for your perseverance. Bonding while on a shared adventure, geocachers hike through woods, boat on lakes, search around parks, and go wherever their GPS or Geocaching app leads them to uncover almost 3 million geocaches worldwide. Community events posted online also offer an easy way for singles to make friends in an outdoorsy setting. If you’re looking for a fun and unique date activity, Geocaching.com can show you the way.
When Bryan Roth, Co-Founder of Geocaching.com, put on his hiking shoes and headed out to a local gathering of geocachers 14 years ago, he was just looking for a good time. What he found was something far greater: the woman of his dreams.
On a cool November day, about a dozen people showed up to share snacks, meet new people, and search for a hidden cache of goodies in a scavenger hunt arranged and sponsored by Jon Stanley, a local geocacher.
The Washington Geocaching Potluck & Quilting Bee was the first geocaching event Bryan had attended (now he’s gone to over 100), and he didn’t really know what to expect from this day in nature. He just hoped to make a good first impression by bringing chocolates for everyone.
“At the time, I was only thinking about meeting geocachers and getting more involved in the local community,” he said. Love was far from his mind — but then he met Hydee.
She had come to the event with her son, Dylan, and a friend, nicknamed CameraThyme. The moment Bryan saw this geocaching trio, he knew he was in trouble.
Hydee gravitated to Bryan immediately, and not just because she loves chocolates. As the day wore on, their mutual attraction only grew stronger. Soon Hydee was giggling with her friend about “Action Figure Man,” which was their code name for Bryan. CameraThyme then oh-so-subtly clued him in that Hydee was single, and the rest is happily married history.
Every five years since, the Roths have celebrated their meeting by throwing a big bash for geocacher at that same park in Seattle. The 15-year event is coming up in November, and everyone is welcome to attend.
Geocaching, a game that began in 2000, brings people together in an extensive and exciting treasure hunt. The caches could be stowed in the trunk of a tree or under a park bench, and it’s up to geocachers to use their brains and technology to find them.
We spoke with Carly Gladnick, who works on the Partnerships and Promotions team at Geocaching Headquarters, about how this global hobby can help singles and couples get out there and make great memories with someone special.
“It’s an awesome opportunity for a first date activity or for a good way to meet new people with similar interests and hobbies,” she said.
Sixteen years ago, Bryan Roth, Jeremy Irish, and Elias Alvord founded Geocaching.com to put new GPS technology to imaginative use. The game started out as one guy outside of Portland, Oregon hiding a bucket of trinkets for people to find. The company has expanded way beyond that now. This activity has gone global: today there are almost 3 million caches to be found in almost every country in the world.
“People use our app or GPS to find cleverly hidden containers,” Carly explained, “and it can be a group or a solo activity. All you have to do is create a username, and you can start searching immediately.”
It’s basically a free excuse to go hiking, explore a city, or get some exercise with friends. Check out their step-by-step video to learn how it works:
When you open up the geocache, you’ll often find it packed with odds and ends left by those who came before you. You might even stumble upon a badge or prize for uncovering a high-difficulty cache. These collectibles lend a colorful and interpersonal history to the scavenger hunt.
Geocachers are a tight-knit community of adventure seekers so whenever you put your name down in the log book, you’re in good company.
To step up your game, you can get a Geocaching Premium Membership for perks like access to more geocache types, a trip planner, and instant notifications about new geocaches.
One tip Carly gives new geocachers is to check the difficulty level at the top of the page. It ranges from one to five, and beginners should try to start off small. “Some of the caches can be tricky,” she said. “Know what to expect and don’t give up.”
Geocaching offers a world of opportunity for singles to meet and daters to date in an upbeat and casual atmosphere. The activity allows people to show off their problem-solving skills while enjoying a goal-oriented day in nature or an exploratory time in the city.
Every year there are about 7 million active geocachers around the world, with about one-third of the user base located right here in the United States.
Slightly more men than women use Geocaching.com, but overall the community is a good representation of all types of people. Whether you live out in the boonies or a big city, caches are hidden all over the place for you to discover. If you take someone along with you, that’s double the fun.
“Everyone from ages 8 to 88, from outdoor adventurers to tech-lovers, enjoy the thrill of searching for geocaches,” Carly told us. “It’s a great way to bond with people, for sure.”
“We have a whole other aspect of the game called Event Caches,” Carly said excitedly. “That’s where we’ve seen a lot of people connect — including one of our founders.”
The events are organized by geocachers themselves — anyone can host and post about an event — and range in size and activity. Once they’re on the Geocaching Event Calendar, any geocacher can find and attend the event. Hundreds of these geocaching events go on every day.
Mega-events typically see at least 500 attendees and last for a couple days (sometimes longer). These larger events offer the opportunity to meet many vibrant, joyful people all at once. “I went to a mega-event in Portugal as a rep from headquarters,” Carly told us, “and it was one of the most amazing experiences of my life to see people fully embrace the game and create this huge event.”
If you prefer more intimate gatherings, you can find a meet-and-greet or clean-up event near you. Cache In Trash Out events (also called CITO events) encourage geocachers to do some good and meet altruistic people who want to help clean up the community.
Geocaching Headquarters runs this worldwide scavenger hunt from Fremont, a quaint neighborhood in Seattle, with a team of 80 passionate employees. Every team member is an expert on the game and often plays it in their free time.
In the summer of 2015, Geocaching HQ sent a handful of employees on a mission to collect five caches in one day. This Geocaching.com roadtrip led to a lot of laughs and dance parties as they explored the great outdoors.
“If you’re an employee here,” Carly said, “you’re a geocacher, too. We are all as involved in the game as much as possible, especially those of us who work with the community.”
The company makes sure that their employees enjoy their work, offering free food, an outdoor gear closet, and travel benefits. Employees are also sent around the world to geocaching events to get a firsthand look at all the good they’re doing for gamers everywhere and to learn about how people play the game.
“We really listen to our community,” said Annie Love, the Partner Programs Manager at Geocaching HQ. “We might not be able to make everything to perfection overnight, but we definitely hear the wants and needs of the community. We’re working hard to deliver the best tools and services to play the game.”
Geocaching.com offers a team-building, exploratory adventure. When you embark on this scavenger hunt with someone else, you learn about each other as you find clues, trek through the unknown, and discover hidden treasures.
Whether it’s on a date or at an event, the journey to find an official Geocaching.com container brings people closer together. “When you have a hobby in common, it really unites the relationship,” Carly said. “It gives you drive to go do something, and that creates a lot of excitement.”
Some ingeniously romantic geocachers have even used the game as a cute way to propose. Username “Hoochie Coochie Man” brings us this romantic story all the way from Turkey:
In the search for love, these two lovebirds hit the jackpot, and their adorable trip down the aisle would not have been possible without Geocaching.com.
Many couples have found a deep connection through the thrill of the hunt and the joy of successful finds. Playful, active people use geocaching as a social tool — and sometimes a romantic gesture.
“People will often use Geocaching.com to propose to a significant other,” Carly said. “There’s so many great love stories through the game.”
Geocachers are a fun-loving group united by teamwork and common interests. If you’re looking for a way to bond with someone special, going on an adventure together is a great way to start.
The company’s Co-Founder can personally attest to Geocaching.com’s potential for inspiring romantic connections. “I figured it’d be a great opportunity to meet some members of the local geocaching community,” Bryan said, “but, of course, that day has changed my life forever.”
In high terrain, low terrain, and anywhere in between, millions of geocaches sit waiting to be discovered. Using the Geocaching app, it’s easier than ever to navigate to hidden opportunities for romance.
Wear comfortable shoes, follow the GPS coordinates, and you never know what you might find along the way.
“It’s really an amazing global game,” Carly said. “It’s all about the journey of going to new locations, finding new spots around town or an epic view somewhere, and sharing that experience with others.”