What is “Geocaching”?

Geocaching ( is both a recreational activity and game, in which participants use Global Positioning System (GPS) coordinates to locate hidden containers. Other participants hide these containers, which are referred to as “Geocaches” or “caches.”

For more information, check out this video and this “Getting Started” forum on Reddit

Set Up

Install Geocaching apps on your smartphone, tablets, or other device you wish to use. Apps include the official Geocaching App (iOS, Android), Cachly (iOS), and C:Geo (Android)

Geocaching Rules/ Etiquette

  1. If you take something from the cache, leave something of equal or greater value.
  2. Write about your find in the cache logbook. (Bring a pen)
  3. Leave no trace; do not disturb the area where the cache is located. Practice Cache In Trash Out (CITO) by picking up litter along the way.
  4. Return the cache to where and how you found it.
  5. Log your experience at

Instructions for Geocaching Activity

  1. Register for a free basic membership.
  2. Visit the “Hide and Seek a Cache” page.
  3. Enter the postal code and click “search”
  4. Choose any geocache from the list and click on its name.
  5. Use your GPS to help you find the hidden geocaches.
  6. Sign the logbook and return the geocache to its original location.

First, we’ll locate the following cache:

Second, we’ll establish two caches:
5 Tips for Creating a Worldclass Geocache / What Makes a Good Urban Cache

  • CCCC19 Cache – The group will submit one to the Geocache deities
    • Permission of land management req’d; find publicly accessible spot
    • Create log
    • Create clue
  • Informal Cache –  This one the group will stash somewhere in the con center.
    • What items reflect CCCC? What would others value?
    • Where to hide it? Consider accessibility.


Glossary of Acronyms and Terms

*full list can be found on

A small DIY cache in Milwaukee

ALR: “Additional Logging Requirement”. Logging requirements beyond finding the geocache and signing the log. All ALRs must be optional for finders of a geocache.

BYOP: “Bring Your Own Pen/Pencil”. An acronym often used by geocache owners to communicate to other geocachers that you will need to bring your writing utensil in order to sign the cache logbook.

Difficulty and Terrain or D/T: Geocaches are rated in two categories, each designated on a 5-point scale (in half-point increments). Difficulty relates to the mental challenge of finding a geocache, while Terrain describes the physical environment. Therefore, a D1/T1 rating would be the easiest geocache to find, while a D5/T5 difficulty/terrain rating would be the most difficult.

DNF: “Did Not Find”. An acronym used by geocachers to state that they did not find a cache.

FTF: “First to Find”. An acronym written by geocachers in physical cache logbooks or online when logging cache finds to denote being the first to find a new geocache.

GC Code: A unique identifier associated with every geocache listing. The GC Code starts with the letters “GC” and is followed by other alphanumeric characters, such as GCK25B.

LN: “Left Nothing”. A common term used when a geocacher leaves nothing in the geocache and simply signs the logbook.

LPC: “Lamp Post Cache”. A common type of geocache hidden under an unsecured lamp post base.

ROT13: A simple letter substitution cipher, or code, where each of the letters are rotated 13 characters up or down in the alphabet. Hints for geocaches are encrypted using ROT13.

Decryption Key




(letter above equals below, and vice versa)

SL: “Signed Log”

STF: “Second To Find”. The second person to find a geocache after it has been placed.

SWAG: “Stuff We All Get.” Trade items left in caches by geocachers.

TFTC: “Thanks For The Cache”. An acronym written by geocachers in logbooks or online when logging cache finds. Occasionally written as T4TC. Side note: Please take time to write at least a few sentences when you log your find online. This how you say “thank you” to the cache owner for creating and placing the geocache.

TFTH: “Thanks For The Hide”. Occasionally written as T4TH.

TNLN: “Took Nothing. Left Nothing”. Usually written in geocache logbooks by geocachers who do not trade for material contents in a cache.

TNLNSL / TNSL: “Took Nothing. Left Nothing. Signed Logbook” / “Took Nothing. Signed Logbook”.

TOTT: “Tools of the Trade”. An acronym used for any of the tools that might be used to search for/retrieve/find/log a geocache.

Mechanisms/Issues to Consider

Space, Access, “etiquette,” “environmental stewardship” of surrounding area, different types of cache (Traditional, Multi-cache, Mystery or puzzle caches, Event Caches, Cash in-Trash Out, EarthCache), containers, content, clues, accessibility, etc.

Remixing the Geocaching Experience

Identify the distinctive elements of the Geocaching experience:

What are the rhetorical/ cultural implications of such an activity?

  • Who can participate?
  • Where?
  • When?

Select one element to consider changing:

  • What happens to the activity overall with this alteration?
  • What is the activity now asking the participant to do (implicitly/explicitly)?
  • How does an activity like geocaching help pay attention to place?

Resources/ Assignment Examples

Bunting, B. S. (2014). The Geocacher As Placemaker: Remapping Reality Through Location-Based Mobile Gameplay. The Mobile Story: Narrative Practices with Locative Technologies, 167-174.

Farman, J. (2009). Locative life: Geocaching, mobile gaming, and embodiment.

Gram-Hansen, L. B. (2009, April). Geocaching in a persuasive perspective. In Proceedings of the 4th International Conference on Persuasive Technology (p. 34). ACM.

Hooper, C. J., & Rettberg, J. W. (2011). Experiences with geographical collaborative systems: Playfulness in geosocial networks and geocaching.

Lary, L. M. (2004). Hide And Seek GPS And Geocaching In The Classroom. Learning & Leading with Technology, 31(6), 14-18.

McNely, B. (2015). Instagram, geocaching, and the when of rhetorical literacies. Topoi.

Neustaedter, C., Tang, A., & Judge, T. K. (2013). Creating scalable location-based games: lessons from Geocaching. Personal and Ubiquitous Computing, 17(2), 335-349.

Procyk, J., Neustaedter, C., Pang, C., Tang, A., & Judge, T. K. (2014, April). Exploring video streaming in public settings: shared geocaching over distance using mobile video chat. In Proceedings of the 32nd annual ACM conference on Human factors in computing systems (pp. 2163-2172). ACM.

O’Hara, K. (2008, April). Understanding geocaching practices and motivations.In Proceedings of the SIGCHI conference on human factors in computing systems (pp. 1177-1186). ACM.

Schlatter, B. E., & Hurd, A. R. (2005). Geocaching: 21st-century hide-and-seek. Journal of Physical Education, Recreation & Dance, 76(7), 28-32.