If you’re familiar with geocaching, you already know it’s one more way to get outdoors and is especially helpful if you have family members who can’t stand to put down their electronic devices to go on a hike. But this year, geocache aficionados are being challenged to use the activity to improve the outdoors, not just spend time there.

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If you don’t know anything about geocaching, it’s a treasure-hunting game that uses GPS-enabled devices to find caches other players have hidden. Caches could be a small container, like a film canister; as large as a trash can; or something tricky, like a fake rock with a hidden compartment. Inside each cache, there’s a logbook so players can log their finds and often choose some small, fun thing to take away. However, players are expected to leave something of equal or greater value, so the next seeker isn’t disappointed. More than 3 million active geocaches are hidden in 191 countries. You can even find them in Antarctica.

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To celebrate the 20th anniversary of geocaching, players will be doing something different this year — logging a locationless cache that in some way improves the environment. Geocaching HQ is behind the challenge. The base is “where the tools for your geocaching adventures are created and maintained. From the wickedly smart developers, to our artistic geniuses, to the community and volunteer support teams, Geocaching HQ is where all the magic happens,” according to the Geocaching website.

family finding a geocache container in a bush

To participate, Geocaching HQ asks people to — individually or with your family or roommates — do something like clean up a walking path, plant trees or help a community group remove invasive species in a park. Geocaching HQ urges players to use green transport like walking, biking, skating or taking public transportation to get to the improvement site.

To succeed at the locationless cache mission, players need to log at least one photo of themselves or a personal item with the results of the outdoor improvement and say where the activity took place. More images and stellar storytelling are encouraged. The locationless cache initiative is available for logging now through December 31, 2021. “We hope you seek out many opportunities to improve the outdoors, but you can only log one find on this cache,” the Seattle-based organization said in a statement. Players will earn the Locationless Cache icon plus a special souvenir on their Geocaching profiles.

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Image via Groundspeak Inc. (dba Geocaching)