AY Honor Geocaching - Advanced Answer Key used by North American Division

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Geocaching - Advanced

Skill Level






Approval authority

North American Division

Geocaching Advanced AY Honor.png
Geocaching - Advanced
Skill Level
Approval authority
North American Division
Year of Introduction
See also


Have the Geocaching honor.

For tips and instruction see Geocaching.


Define the following terms:



A series of icons used to show what the experience of hunting a cache may be like and some restrictions that may apply. Attributes include "Stealth required", "No Night Caching" (for parks with such restrictions) or 24/7 (for areas like a road side cache), to the unusual like scuba diving required. Some people make a sub-game of collecting caches that cover all the attributes available.


Favorite points

Geocaching.com gives you the ability to share another favourite point whenever you find a certain number of caches. Players are encouraged to use these favourite points to recognize the caches they like the best. This virtually rewards the cache placer for creating a good experience and serves as a guide to future cache hunters by highlighting caches that other cachers found particularly interesting. Favourite points are limited so that people can't just favourite every cache they find, defeating the point of highlighting the better caches in an area.


Message center

An internal message system on geocaching.com where geocachers can communicate with each other. You are often required to send answers to earth and virtual caches via message center. You might also message people you get to know in the sport to plan hunts together. Sometimes players use messages to share info with cache owners about caches they don't want to publicly log, like describing a maintenance problem privately that would give away too much about the hide. Messages are also sometimes used to beg for hints on hard caches. However you use messages remember to always be courteous and patient. People have lives and responsibilities and may not always quickly respond to your messages about the game.


Souvenir badges

Completing specified actions often during specified periods of time can earn a digital badge which is added to your geocaching profile. Common badges include ones for finding a cache in a state for the first time, or finding a certain number of caches in a weekend.


Lists or Pocket Queries

The geocaching.com website has the ability to select groups of caches based on various criteria. You might want a list of all the Traditional caches with a Terrain rating under 3 within 5 miles of your home. You can send the list or pocket query to your phone or GPS or into various third party software tools that work with the data to create maps or other useful functions.



A volunteer geocaching member selected by headquarters that reviews new cache listings before they are allowed to be posted live on geocaching.com. Reviewers check various points that you should also check (not in a National Park, close to rail lines, or an area that requires a permit) and some things you can't check such as proximity to the actual location of other live cache listings you may not know about. That small park you think needs a cache and looks clear on the map may actually have a mystery or the end of a multi-cache in it that does not leave room for another cache while respecting the minimum distance between caches.


Define latitude and longitude. What is meant by degrees, minutes, seconds? Demonstrate how to find the latitude and longitude on a geocache listing. Show how to enter latitude and longitude in a GPS receiver/app.

Latitude describes the north-south position on the globe and is measured in degrees, minutes, and seconds. The 0° line is a circle around the Earth's equator. Latitude changes as one moves north to south, or south to north. It does not change as one moves from east to west or west to east.
Longitude describes the east-west position on the globe, and like latitude, is also measured in degrees, minutes, and seconds. All longitude lines begin and end at the North and South Poles. The 0° longitude line begins at the North Pole, passes through Greenwich, England, and then continues to the South Pole. Longitude changes as one moves east to west, or west to east. It does not change as one moves from north to south or south to west.
Most people become familiar with the angular measurement of a degree in a mathematics class when they are introduced to the protractor. The degree used in geocaching is this very same measurement. Latitude measures the angle made by two lines which both originate at the very center of the Earth. The first line extends from the center of the Earth to the equator, and the second line extends from the center of the Earth to the position being described. Longitude is similar, measuring the angle formed by two lines - one extending from the center of the Earth to the equator directly south of Greenwich, England, and the other extending from the center of the Earth to a position on the equator directly north or south of the measured position.
A degree is not a very precise measurement of an angle when considering something as large as the planet Earth. If only degrees were used to specify a person's position, we could only get within about 100km62 miles of the person's position. Therefore, a degree is divided into 60 finer measurements called minutes. Minutes in Geocaching has little to do with time.
Even with the finer angular resolution of minutes, we can still only get to within about 1670 metersone mile of a person's position, so the minute is divided into seconds. One second can get us to within about 28 meters92 feet of a position, so they are typically specified to a couple of decimal places, as in "25.65 seconds".

Latitude and longitude are specified in degrees, minutes, and seconds, as in 43°22'54.31". Here the number preceding the ° symbol (43) is the number of degrees, the number preceding the ' (22) is the number of minutes, and the number before the " (54.31) is the number of seconds. When we go down to one hundredth of a second, we can specify a location to within about 28 cm11 inches.


Give the history of the following:


The origins of global positioning satellites


When and how geocaching started


The basics of the first geocache (stash)


What are the laws/rules/guidelines for placing caches in the following locations in your region?


City, regional, or county parks


State parks/provincial parks

This will vary by where you live. Some states and provinces prohibit all geocaches in their state or provincial parks, some require permits, while some have no restrictions. A big clue is precedent. If you find plenty of caches in nearby state parks then it is probably fine to add another. However if the state parks only have caches nearby but never in the parks you need to stay out too. Verify land use permission before placing any cache. Contact the regional geocaching organization, ask experienced local cachers at geocaching events or via message center, or search for this info on the internet. Rules change from time to time. Volunteer reviewers for your area will know the current situation for sure. See who Published some recent caches in your area and send them a message about your proposed location.

All caches everywhere require landowner permission. However, permission to use public land is generally implied unless there are regulations against access or cache placement. You don't have permission to place caches in areas that are off limits to the public like military bases, ecological reserves, dangerous areas, maintenance and administrative buildings in parks and so on.


National parks, WMAs

The U.S. National Park Service prohibits geocaches on land it manages. WMAs refer to Wildlife Management Areas.


Limited access highways and railroad right-of-ways

Please don't place cachers in places they are likely to be killed. It is a federal offense in the United States to trespass on an active railroad right-of-way. Geocaches should be located a minimum of 45 meters150 feet from any active rail line. Similar rules apply in Canada and other countries.

Geocaching will not knowingly approve caches close to railway tracks or on limited access highways. A cache at a highway rest stop away from the travel lanes is likely fine but anything that encourages stopping on the shoulder is not acceptable. If you find a cache near a railway track or on a highway mark it for archiving with a note about the situation so a reviewer will look at it.


Placing physical caches while traveling

A person who places a cache is responsible for maintaining it. This means it must be physically visited on a regular basis. Unless the cache placer is able to pay frequent visits to the cache site, the cache should not be placed.


Other public lands or areas in your area with permitting guidelines


Complete two or more of the following:


Establish and maintain a new geocache in your area for at least six months

Be sure to read these guidelines for hiding a geocache. In short:

  • Choose an area to hide your geocache
    • Make sure it's legal, and that you have permission.
    • Make sure that the added attention of geocachers will not damage a sensitive site (historic or natural)
    • Hide it out of sight of casual passersby.
  • Prepare your cache
    • Choose a container. Popular choices include plastic food-storing containers such as Tupperware, ammo boxes, and water-proof boxes used on boats. The container should be waterproof and be able to withstand the rigors of the weather.
    • Add a logbook and (optionally), a pencil. Ink freezes.
    • Write a note to the geocachers who find your cache.
    • Add a small gift (optional)
    • Add a Travel Bug (optional)
  • Get the GPS coordinates
    • Make sure they are accurate.
    • Take several readings and average them.
    • Follow your GPS to the site from different directions.
    • Write the coordinates on the container and in the logbook.
  • Register your cache
    • Find the form at http://geocaching.com
    • Write up a good description of the area, including notes of interest (history, etc.)
    • Double-check for accuracy
  • Maintenance
    • Check that the container is still water-tight and seals properly
    • Check that the logbook is still there
    • Assess the area for damage caused by cachers and make adjustments if necessary


Attend a geocache meeting or event

Check the geocaching calendar to find an event near you. If there is not one, you could always host one yourself. If you host it at your church you will raise your community's awareness of your church. However, do not try to make this an evangelistic meeting, as this would be frowned upon by the geocaching community and would give you and your church a bad name. It is enough that people learn where your church is.


Complete a geotour, geotrail, geoarts or its equivalent (minimum of 6 geocaches found)

These types of trails come in various forms limited only by the imagination of players. Some are organized by tourism offices or other organizations tying together new and sometimes existing caches around a historic area, highlighting public art, or down a trail. They may provide a list of caches with additional information about the area. Some are just put together by geocaching players along a walking path. Sometimes finding all the caches provides information for a bonus cache or you can get a sticker or stamp or something from the sponsoring organization.

These are often more fun and educational then hunting random caches in random parks. Be prepared to show your instructor evidence of what the planned group of caches you found was.


Find two travel bugs or geocoins and place them in another cache.

Though travel bugs are not expensive, it's even cheaper to find them and track them than it is to buy one and send it out. Watch the geocaches in your area and look for TB's to be dropped off in them. Then pick them up and help them meet their goals.


Hike five or more miles while geocaching.


Find the two oldest caches hidden in your state or region.


Find and record at least 18 geocaches and include:

You can record your finds on the geocaching website, so don't worry about setting up some sort of elaborate system. Getting each of these types of cache will most likely come naturally, so you don't really need to pay particular attention to that when you get started. As you near your 18th cache, check them over and see how many of these four types you already got "automatically" - then work on getting the rest. By the time you log your 18th, you will likely have found a new hobby, and more will come.


One traditional cache with three-star (or greater) difficulty and/or terrain rating*


One multi-level cache or Mystery (Puzzle) cache


One virtual or earthcache

Virtual caches were discontinued and only a few remain grandfathered. Earthcaches, however, are a form of virtual cache.


One cache with at least ten favorite points


Write about your geocache find in your logbook on a geocache website.

From the Main Page of www.geocaching.com at the top right, click on “Create a Membership!”, for a free account choose “Get a Basic Membership”. This is a family friendly, kid-safe website. No personal information is available from this site. Emails are safe and password protected through this system. When you are a member you can post into the logbooks your cache finds.

Note to instructors: Notice that these requirements do leave the opportunity for a GROUP to go find a cache and use a pre-existing Geocaching account to write the log on the geocache website. Each individual Pathfinder does NOT need to write a log.

*The free geocaching app limits to five finds per day of caches with a D/T rating of 2 or less. Thus, a paid quarterly or annual membership would be necessary for this requirement if using a geocaching app.