Geocaching: Using technology to bring people outdoors


It appears that technology has found a way to prevent humans from ever going outside. From our laptops, smartphones, tablets and other gadgets we can order our favorite pie from the pizza shop down the street and those leggings you order the other day have been dropped on your doorstep via drone. The only reason we leave our homes anymore is to work (in order to provide ourselves with the means to pay for the services that requires one click to complete.) Even that is changing, with the number of individuals telecommuting or working remotely is rising fast. According to the New York Times, almost 3.2 million workers telecommute today. The point being, with technology allowing for more and more people to spend less and less of their time outside how will we direct attention to the external environment?

Believe it or not, an app is the answer to this very question. The phone application is called Geocaching.  Geocaching was a collaboration by computer engineers who all shared a passion for adventure. The original purpose was to test the accuracy of a GPS by hiding the navigational target in the woods. A container was hidden in the woods and would have to be found by using the navigational coordinates with the GPS. When the box was found, the “finder” would take something that was in the box and then leave something behind.

This is the basic premise of Geocaching today. To play, all one has to do is take out their phone or GPS enabled device and make a free geocaching account. Choose the geocache to look for then start navigating. When the geocache is found, sign the log book and take a nic-nak then post the find online.

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Geocaching describes the earth as its game board. In 2015, geocachers earned the CITO (Cache In, Trash Out) souvenir. This award celebrates the thousands of geocachers who helped to care for the earth. On CITO weekend, thousands of geocachers around the world hosted events centered around litter clean-up, removal of invasive species, revegetation efforts and trail building.

It is interesting to see how the use of technology can help to bring people closer to nature. Through applications like geocaching, more awareness can be developed around the state of the earth hopefully enticing people to take action to care for the planet. So let’s put down Neko Atsume (trust me, your cats will be there when you get back) and let’s take our tech outside—cause you’ll never know what you might find until you start looking.

 

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