Geocaching is essentially a sophisticated game of hide and seek, in which participants use global positioning system (GPS) units and co-ordinates from a website to track down a cache that contains information about the particular site. The information is usually presented on postcards, with an image on one side and text on the other. It is common for the postcards to be collected.

Many Manitoba communities are using this interesting new communication opportunity to encourage people to visit, and to discover interesting facts about the community. Many municipalities report that locals even are engaged in the activity and report that they have discovered all kinds of fascinating things they never knew about their home town.

Several of the partners of the Heritage Manitoba initiative have developed geocaching aspects of their community heritage websites, and provide these helpful hints:

An example of a geocache
  • The activity requires a website, and thus the outlay of funding to develop a site. There are modest costs to set a website up and then to keep it running. Does your community have the wherewithal for this?
  • You will need a highly accurate GPS unit by which to develop the geocache readings for the website. Does someone in the community have this unit, or can one be purchased?
  • You will need to gain permission from site owners to have a geocache on our near their property. Be prepared with appropriate responses for questions that likely will arise – about privacy, etc.
  • While the cache postcard texts and images are fairly basic, they still need to be of a certain calibre to reflect well on the community. Consider engaging a writer and graphic designer for this work.
  • You will need to have people available to check on the caches and keep them stocked.
  • Some geocachers leave messages, so be sure that you collect those missives and consider posting them on your website.
  • Consider removing old sites and adding new sites so that geocachers will keep coming to the community
  • Engage young people in this kind of initiative – this is a very important way to get youth and students involved, and perhaps even in developing content.