Caching in on outdoor fun

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COLONY INVASION: Kenny Oh (center) charges into the fray during the inaugural Colonial Cup championship game. Teams were invited from the original 13 colonies to compete in the Philadelphia Gryphons’ tournament held April 25 in Fairmount Park, thus the tournament name. The Gryphons lost the final game 26-5 to the Gotham Knights. Join the ruggers at the Collegiate Rugby Championship Invitational with a tailgate party May 30 or for their first Saturday social each month, with ICandy playing host June 6. Visit Philadelphiagryphons.org or facebook.com/PhillyGryphons for additional info. Photo: Scott A. Drake

Several years ago, my curiosity was piqued by a treasure-hunting game that made use of increasingly prevalent GPS technology. I didn’t follow through to any great extent then, and let it slide out of my mind. Earlier this month, I rediscovered it as the game celebrated 15 years. It’s called geocaching (geocaching.com) and it’s a relatively simple concept with extraordinary and unlimited possibilities.

Simply put, geocaching is using a GPS, and sometimes-encoded clues and comments, to locate a container in some unique, beautiful, educational or curious spot. The cache always contains a hard log to sign and an online log to make entries so the world can know where you’ve been and when. And world is the right word, as it’s hide-and-seek played across a sizable portion of the planet.

We were in Bucks County May 1-3 visiting and photographing for our Bucks County Issue coming out next week and we checked out a couple of caches at Lake Nockamixon State Park. These were relatively simple finds that are maintained by park employees and geared towards family fun, but others can be more difficult to find due to size, terrain or even camouflage.

The idea is to look for these caches in parks and recreation areas that someone believed deserved more visitors for whatever esthetic or historic reason, so they planted a cache. Some are small — only a tiny piece of paper is inside for the log — whereas others contain objects that are traded (you take one thing and leave another of equal or greater value). Some are mystery caches where you have to use divine clues in several spots (think “National Treasure”) to reveal the final location.

What’s this doing in a sports column? First of all, sports and recreation go hand-in-hand, but additionally, the more difficult caches can require hiking and even climbing; with the easier locations, you usually just have to go walking and/or biking to reach them. No, there’s no digging (burying a cache is a no-no) and no prying out of bricks or anything destructive like that. The cache may be in a magnetic key box or even a Tupperware container. It’s kind of a sport, definitely a recreation and quite possibly addictive.

I say addictive because, as I finish this column, it’s 78 degrees outside and I just returned from finding a cache in a Society Hill location over my lunch hour. Yes! They are even in Philadelphia! So the next time it’s gorgeous out and you’re taking a walk or ride, hit up the website, click for local caches and get out and play!

Summer in the city parks

The May 22 “Get Out and Play” is a compilation of all the summer activities that go on here, starting with Memorial Day weekend. A quick heads up for all the soccer and softball players, fans and wannabe players: There are tournaments Memorial Day weekend and you need to get signed up/registered fast! Visit Falcon-soccer.org and cblsl.org for that information.

There are also tennis and bowling tournaments on the horizon, as well as many other fun and fundraising activities. Check back in two weeks for the full account.

If you or an organization you’re with has information for the community to know, now’s the time to email me. See contact info at the end.

Short Stops

• Philadelphia Liberty Tennis Association is moving back outside for the summer. Games are played in FDR Park on the weekends; philadelphialibertytennis.org/.

• Send your summer fun events to [email protected]