Readers of this blog know that I have a thing for maps and using a compass (both of those in the literal and figurative ways). It has been a few years since I played at a game that many people take quite seriously – geocaching.

Geocaching (pronounced geo-cashing) is played around the world. Unlike so many of our games that on on a board or online, this is played out in the world. Real reality rather than virtual reality.

Part of its appeal is that it’s pretty much a treasure hunt. A geocacher places a geocache out in the world and carefully marks its location. At one time that was a map and compass activity, but now it is almost always GPS technology.

Then they share the geocache’s existence and location online. Anyone else can then try to locate the geocache.

The game is to locate the hidden containers (geocaches) outdoors and then share your experiences online. You don’t keep the treasure (You might add an item to it) and you don’t move its location. There’s a good amount of civility (and community) to the playing. It is played by all ages.

According to, there are 1,067,977 active geocaches around the world. On their site, you can enter your postal code or address and find geocaches near you.

I used to make treasure maps for my sons when they were young. I made maps to find Easter eggs, to find caches of candy, gifts,  and maps that just led to a place for the fun of it.

My sons loved the treasure map and hunt in the 1985 film The Goonies when I showed it to them. The plot is pretty much R.L. Stevenson’s Treasure Island but they preferred the update.

They wera a little older when the 1994 comedy City Slickers 2 – The Legend of Curly’s Gold came out. We were big City Slickers fans already (and I’m still determined that the 3 of us will do that cattle drive together one day). That cowboy treasure map is still a pirate’s treasure map. By the time the 2004 film National Treasure was released, my sons were in high school and college, but we still were attracted to that film’s treasure map which becomes the source of the quest itself.

There is something very satisfying about being able to successfully follow a map. But it’s even more satisfying when there’s a treasure at the X that marks the end spot. It doesn’t have to be a box full of gold, but that would be pretty sweet too.

Here’s a taste of geocaching in action in this clip from the movie Splinterheads


A Descriptive List of Treasure Maps and Charts