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Geocaching Vocabulary and Abbreviations

Cache - A waterproof container that has been hidden by a fellow geocacher, who has posted the GPS coordinates on a website, such as Some caches are easy to find. They are simply camouflaged. Others may be highly disguised and hard to notice. Virtual caches are simply an unmistakable landmark or park feature.

Coordinates - A set of numbers that describe your exact location on the earth's surface. Latitude/longitude (lat/long) coordinates are the most typical lines of reference.

Earthcache - These virtual caches provide Earth science lessons for middle school students. A cache is not hidden, the coordinates of an earthcache mark the location of a significant formation or landscape.

EcoCache - A 'green' variation of a cache. Placed by geocachers at environmentally significant locations, an EcoCache site helps raise awareness of the role humans play in restoring, preserving and sharing the environment.

Geocaching - An outdoor game of hide-and-seek using a hand-held Global Positioning System (GPS) unit. Geocachers use location coordinates and a variety of clues to find caches. The visitor may be expected to leave or replace items in the cache or deliver items to another cache. The cache may be a small waterproof box or simply an unmistakable landmark. Geocaching is related to orienteering, where participants find their way with a compass.

Global Positioning System (GPS) unit - device that reads satellite signals and then, through the use of mathematics, calculates your position on Earth as a latitude (how far north or south of the equator), longitude (how far east or west of Greenwich, UK) and altitude (how far above sea level).

Travel Bug - item found in a cache that is meant to travel from one cache to another. These are sometimes called 'hitch-hikers.'

Waypoint - A (usually two-dimensional) coordinate that is input into a navigation device, such as a GPS receiver, representing a position that a geocache, vessel, aircarft, vehicle or person has to navigate to, with the aid of GPS (and/or any other position fixing device).