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GEOCACHING OKLAHOMA


A game of hiding and seeking for all ages


Liz Madaffari and her 9-year-old son Seth search for a geocache at a park in Tulsa, Okla.


Story and photos by Laura Araujo “ T


en, nine, eight, seven ...” a child chants. “Six, fi ve, four,” anticipation can be heard in his words. “Three, two one … Ready or not, here I come!”


Squealing and shrieking ensue as the “it” child seeks his playmates in closets, under beds and behind doors. Similar to the childhood game of hide and seek, the


sport of geocaching offers the thrill of the hunt to chil- dren of all ages. “We’re very competitive,” says Tulsa, Okla., resident


Jennifer Cushman about her family. “When we’re all together, we race to see who can fi nd it fi rst.” In the case of geocaching, the item to be found is a


cache, a container hidden according to GPS coordi- nates. In the 16 years since the game was invented, an estimated 2.5 million caches have been hidden around the globe. To date, team “Cushmanelite”—made up of Cushman,


Lili Cushman shows off the treasures her family has retrieved during their geocaching adventures. One of the items is an Oklahoma Electric Cooperative letter opener.


her husband, Brett, and their fi ve daughters—has located more than 140 caches in Oklahoma and six more states.


Free, family-friendly fun The Cushmans, former Indian Electric Cooperative members, started


geocaching while they were living in Cleveland, Okla. A homeschool mom,


Cushman was trying to come up with some extracur- ricular activities for the girls. “A friend posted about geocaching and I looked it


up,” Cushman says. “We tried it and it quickly became addictive.” Other than the cost of a premium subscription to


geocaching.com of $30 per year, geocaching is a cost- free adventure. (For those wanting to try out geocach- ing before subscribing, there are a number of free caches available.) The geocaching smartphone app contains a map that gives the coordinates of various caches, thou- sands of which are located in all corners of Oklahoma. Some are “location caches” found at historical or tour- ist attractions; others are found in parks, parking lots and even neighborhoods. They are plentiful in urban and rural areas alike. Geocachers use their smartphone or a handheld


GPS to navigate to a cache site and search for the hidden treasure. Before opening the cache, players


must be sure they are not being watched by “mugglers” (non-cachers) who might disturb the cache. Once located, cachers record their team name on the log inside the cache as well as logging their fi nd on the geocaching app. Some caches also have actual treasures inside called “SWAG.” “We buy trinkets and keep them in our car. It could be something like a pencil, an eraser or a keychain,” Cushman says. “We take one out of the


JULY 2016 17


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