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How To Conduct Survival Skills Training Using Geocaching

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It can be hard to find time for survival skills training.  That’s why I think it is valuable to find enjoyable ways to practice.  This not only makes it better for you, but also gives you the opportunity to share with friends and family.  When done properly, outdoor activities and games turn into valuable learning tools.

One of my favorite activities is Geocaching.  Described as the world’s largest treasure hunt, Geocaching really provides much more.  It is interactive, rewarding, and competitive.

Geocaching provides a variety of survival skills including:

  1. Land navigation/orienteering
  2. Problem solving
  3. Mechanical skills
  4. Stealth

Before we move on, it’s important to note that Geocaching is a game.  Varying levels of difficulty form an opportunity to challenge everyone involved.  The goal is to find a hidden object near a given location.  These objects can be anything from an old film container to a large ammo can and more.  Anything that can store a logbook will serve as an appropriate container.

Using a map and compass are part of survival skills training

Land Navigation/Orienteering

In the modern, GPS filled world, many have lost the ability to read terrain.  While this can still be an issue with the simplest of caches, more challenging caches will require this skill.  Whether you mark your cache on a map or use the app, navigating to the cache will force you to know your terrain.

You can find caches in urban and rural sites alike.  They can also be found in the mountains, beaches, and the desert.  Knowing how to navigate these types of environments is certainly a critical survival skill.  You may spend a day getting over a mountain, only to find out that you could have easily gone around instead.

If you want to take it to the next level, turn the phone off and pull out your map.  While you’re at it, break out the trusty compass and protractor.  It may be difficult to get maps for every area, but you should try to have one for your local area.  Take this chance to put it to good use and practice those skills.

Problem solving

One thing that really sets the Geocaching community apart from other geo-location based games is their creativity.  It is very common to come across multi-caches and tricky hidden ones.  Extremely well hidden caches will often come with clues in their titles or descriptions.

Multi-caches are a series of caches that must be found in order.  In these caches, you can only use the app or GPS to find the first cache.  You’re normally on your own after that.  This means that you may have to get your hands dirty with that map or a terrain sketch to accomplish your goal.  Terrain sketches, which are their own survival skill, are basic hand-drawn maps that you can use to navigate.

Mechanical skills

Another fascinating obstacle in Geocaching is something known as a gadget-cache.  Gadget-caches are mechanical boxes that require you to figure out how the box works in order to access the logbook.  Some of these boxes require electrical knowledge while others are simply mechanical in nature.

When planning survival skills training, mechanical skills are often overlooked.  However, these skills are valuable in both survival situations and our daily lives.


It may seem a little ridiculous to think of a game as a form of improving real world stealth.  However, one of the goals of each geocacher is to avoid being “muggled”.  Muggled is a term used to indicate that someone who is not a part of the community has found a cache.

A few weeks ago, Jason Hanson wrote about dead drops in his article on hidden messages.  Geocaching is essentially a community-based game of dead drops.  You aren’t leaving a message, but you are finding or hiding the caches.

What are the tools you use in your survival skills training?

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