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Geocaching is a real world outdoor game that uses Global Positioning System (GPS) technology and mixes elements, including letterboxing, benchmarking and treasure hunting. Players, known as geocachers, search for hidden containers known as geocaches, or caches, which are placed in various locations by organizers or other players.
The removal of Selective Availability (SA), a GPS feature, paved the way for geocaching. This GPS feature prevented accurate mapping due to fears of attack with precision guidance. After SA was disabled, GPS accuracy significantly improved.
On May 3, 2000, the first geocache was placed just a day after the SA removal. The partially buried box contained books, food, money and a slingshot, among other items. At that time, the game was known as GPS Stash Hunt and "gpsstashing." After it was suggested that the word "stash" has negative connotations, the game became known as geocaching.
Geocaches are often weatherproof to endure tough conditions. These boxes may contain logbooks, where players record the date the cache is found, and their code name. Some containers have other (often inexpensive) items that serve as rewards for the finder.
As the game increased in popularity, geocaching variations were developed. In GeoCaching, a version created by the Encounter project, players have time limits and are given cache finding hints. The winner of the game is the first person or team to find all the hidden boxes. There also may be bonus tasks that provide more searching time or hints about cache locations.
Geodashing is a related game that originated from geocaching. However, unlike geocaching, there are no hidden boxes. Players must visit dashpoints within a predefined time period and report their findings. Participants must visit as many dashpoints as possible during the game, which usually takes a month.