“Geocaching” is a thing in West Central Illinois now

By Gary Scott on October 31, 2015 at 8:32am

While Halloween enthusiasts are looking for candy this weekend, you may see another group of people searching for a trickier treat.

The hobby known as “geocaching” has been around for about 15 years now, and it appears to have made its way to Jacksonville. Anyone with a smartphone can find a cache, usually a small, waterproof container with a logbook inside for people who have found the object to sign.

A cursory glance on a geocaching app shows several dozen caches that appear to be in the Jacksonville area as of Friday afternoon.

MacMurray College associate art professor Khara Koffel is one of about 100 people in the area who participate in the hobby, and says she’s one of the geocachers who creates new sites.

As the “owner” of the cache, Koffel says she receives alerts whenever someone finds one.

“There’s over two-and-a-half million of them all over the world, which is really interesting to me, so I thought it would be something that would be fun to start planting because it’s so much fun to find them, so I thought actually hiding them would be a good time as well,” Koffel says.

“There’s all different kinds of caches out there; there’s ones that are really straightforward, and there’s ones that are kind of simple, and there’s ones that are more like puzzles, and I wanted to do some that were gonna be in a range of really easy to really difficult, and some that are a little bit more devious that are kind of hidden in interesting ways,” she continues.

Koffel says once you join the geocaching community, you’re part of a family.

“I hid one over at the YMCA, that was one of my first hides in Jacksonville, because I train people over at the Crossfit gym, and it’s near there, so I could kind of keep an eye on it, and it was really fun because the first people that found it, I was there when they found it,” she says.

“Everybody sort of geeks out over it and talks about ones that they found and cool ones that are in the area, that they should look for and things like that. So, yeah it is, because it just seems to be really nice friendly people that do it. They don’t want to hurt anything in the area, they have good intentions, and they just want to have a good time and be outside, and I think that’s a really cool thing,” Koffel adds.