On your journey within the world of geocaching, there will come a time you encounter strange places to hide them. Sometimes going into abandoned buildings, forgotten forests, and on the extremely rare occasion, venturing close to schools or colleges. However, when you are beyond just searching for caches, you will want to start creating your own caches, looking for a good place to hide them.
Geocaches are not hidden in schools, colleges, or universities as these are not publicly accessible, but there are extremely rare occasions where you can find a cache close by. No geocaching app will allow geocaches to be logged on school grounds, sometimes not even allowing caches within several meters of the properties either.
However, if you are a teacher wanting to engage your children in the geocaching activity, you can set certain waypoints using the apps or with GPS coordinates. There are several reasons that publicly accessible geocaches are never placed near or on school grounds, beyond the limitation of access.
Here’s how to plant geocaches in the right location and why you may encounter stories of people finding caches at schools.
Hiding a cache at schools
This was a hot topic a few years ago, with many new geocachers not understanding why geocaches aren’t located at their schools. The excitement of many new people joining the hobby caused clouded perceptions that older cachers had to tackle and overcome quickly.
Not only would geocaches in schools present a problem of access, but the act of geocaching can cause several questions to be raised about the hobbyists. Luckily, the applications used quickly set restrictions, and teachers that were interested in the hobby found ways of including students without giving unwanted access to strangers.
Many teachers across the world love the hobby of geocaching. It is an engaging activity that builds social structures among young adults and teaches teamwork. Geocachers are some of the nicest and most inclusive people in the world; however, the age range for the hobby is varied. This means that it can be people as young as 13 or well over 50 years old.
Teachers learned that if they wanted to include their students, they had to create internal systems in more rural schools, which was simply using local woods or fields. However, some schools are more closed off and prefer students to stay on school grounds for activities. In these situations, all the geocaches are placed on school grounds.
The teachers would then use waypoints and local landmarks as ways to find all the geocaches, letting the students find them on their own time. Unlike scavenger hunts, the goal is to always find the geocache, instead of a prize at the end.
These geocaches are exclusive to students and are meant to introduce them to the hobby, never being opened to the rest of the community.
There are extremely rare caches that are placed inside of famous or large schools. These caches are unique, and knowledge about them is not always shared with the community. These caches are only accessible at unique times throughout the year, meaning that you must time your geocaching trip perfectly.
What makes these caches the exception, being allowed to be placed on school grounds, is because they are usually placed at colleges or universities. This means that when these places have public events, paid or free, you can easily visit them and join other cachers in looking for them while attending these events—usually placed by the administration of the college or university to invite more people to visit the campus.
If you are studying and would like to create your own geocache hidden away on campus, it is highly advised that you talk to your school’s administration. Letting them know not only what your plans are, but what geocaching is. Many times, the administration will tell you that they already know of the hobby.
On a few occasions, you will be allowed to hide your cache on the campus, but you will be required to help ensure people only come searching when the public is permitted on the campus. Be sure that you would be willing to handle the responsibility before placing your first geocache in an access-controlled area.
Close to schools
This is something that may shock some rookie geocachers, but some schools heavily frown upon geocaches being placed anywhere near their campuses. This is because their students don’t immediately leave the area once school has ended, and seeing some strange person with his phone out, taking pictures of an area close to them will raise alarms.
While you would know it is entirely innocent, bystanders would question random people turning up close to the campus with their phones out, which is why, even if it’s a park that’s only close to a school, you should tell the administration that you are planning to hide one there. There are a few locations where hiding geocaches even close by is not recommended at all.
High schools, colleges, and university parks are usually safe to have geocaches in them. These are locations where a lot of foot traffic already happens, and geocachers will look like just someone else in the crowd. However, you should never place a geocache in the park close to any primary or kindergarten schools.
No geocacher would be willing to go looking for the cache, and it could invite danger to those few who would be brave enough to go looking.
Why it’s not allowed
When planning to place your geocache, it is always important to remember who will be hunting for them. The hobby attracts people from around the world; some not always speaking fluent English or the national language of your country.
Imagine the awkward situation of an English-speaking man looking for a geocache he saw on his app, not realizing that the local primary school also uses the park he is in for field trips. He is innocent, but the world is a much scarier place than we sometimes like to believe.
Schools are safe places where parents send their children to be safely taught skills and other things to survive the world. This means some laws and rules should always be followed in approaching them, including the privacy of everyone who attends them.
In many countries, it is entirely illegal to take pictures, of any kind, of minors without their parents’ or guardians’ permissions. While most geocachers won’t take pictures, some do like to document their search. This means that when you plant a geocache in or near a school, you are putting the geocacher in danger of being accused of breaking the law.
The privacy of students and schools should always be considered when you create your geocache.
Schools are not always easy to access. Modern times have called for strict control of who is and isn’t allowed inside the school. This means that hiding a cache anywhere near them could cause a problem where no one ever visits your cache.
The reason schools do not allow people into them at will should be easy to understand; even universities have tight access controls where they do not allowing strangers to enter whenever and wherever they want. Even the hardest to reach geocache should always follow the law and be accessible by anyone.
Creating your geocache is one of the most thrilling things you can do as a cacher. You will experience the thrill of planning it, and the butterflies of anticipation as you wait for the first few people to go and find it. Schools may seem like an obvious place, but they are not, with several restrictions making it impossible for other cachers to access the cache.
Hiding your geocache somewhere anyone can find it should always be the goal. You’d be surprised how easy it is to access a forest on the mountain. Maybe go find a good tree that needs some visitors there!
Check out our article on whether Geocaching is still a thing here.