Hidden Treasure Near Home: Westfield Family Spends Quality Time Together Through Geocaching

November 9, 2012 at 1:41 PM

WESTFIELD, NJ--In 2005, Dina Orr read in a magazine that people could go hiking with their GPS, taking them to a specific location where they could find hidden containers full of items.

Since Mrs. Orr and her family used to hike frequently, she thought that it would be a good idea to have a particular spot to go to when hiking.

That Christmas, she gave her husband a GPS and in 2006, Mr. and Mrs. Orr and their two children became involved with geocaching.

Sign Up for E-News

“For us it was like hiking with a purpose,” said Mrs. Orr, a teacher at Westfield High School. “It was also something inexpensive to do with the family. I think when you have kids, you end up spending a lot of money just to spend some family time together, but we could just do this instead and pack a picnic.”

According to www.geocaching.com, geocaching is a real-world, outdoor treasure hunting game using GPS-enabled devices. Participants navigate to a specific set of GPS coordinates and then attempt to find the geocache (container) hidden at that location.

Geocaching.com tells a geocacher (participant) where geocaches (or simply caches) are hidden in the area.

“The geocaching website is worldwide. There are groups of areas that people can join,” said Edward Orr, owner of Pegasus Contracting in Westfield and Mrs. Orr’s husband. “It’s all free unless you want to upgrade your membership. You can upgrade for $30 a year.”

In most cases, after geocachers find caches, they login onto the website with their username and write about their adventure or experience with finding the caches without giving too much information away.  

“When you’re looking for a cache, you look at other people’s logs and if you have trouble finding it, you look at what other people wrote and sometimes, they might give you hints to where it’s hidden,” Mr. Orr said. “Some of them are not hidden easy.”

Geocachers don’t have to have an actual GPS device to track caches. There are cell phone applications that allow a geocacher to download the coordinates from www.geocaching.com.  

“Sometimes, there are puzzles that you have to solve online in order to get the coordinates,” Mrs. Orr said. “That gets interesting and very hard.”

The items found in caches vary from cache to cache. Usually, caches include items such as McDonalds or Burger King toys, silly bands or anything that attracts children. Caches also include a logbook that geocachers sign after finding the cache.

Anyone can hunt for caches or even hide them, but like every game, there are rules to follow. Geocachers can take from the cache any item that appeals to them, but then they have to replace it with another item of the same value.

“You don’t want to take something decent out and put something crummy back,” Mr. Orr said. “The idea is to try doing an even exchange.”

Every cache that is hidden has to be waterproof. Caches cannot contain any harmful items, such as lighters, pocket knives or anything that smells like food.

“You can’t put things in caches that would attract animals because then the animal will take the cache away and eat it; that includes crayons and play-doh,” Mr. Orr said.  

In addition, since geocaching consists of working within nature, geocachers cannot dig holes or drill trees to hide caches.

When the Orr family vacations, it enjoys hunting for caches. As of today, the family has collected 2,474 caches. Most of them are from New Jersey; other ones are from Florida, New York, Portugal, Denmark, England and the Netherlands.

Besides hunting for caches, the Orr family also enjoys hiding them. Mr. Orr has also hidden approximately 14 caches.

Geocachers can hide as many caches as they want, but then they become responsible for maintaining those caches.

“You are responsible for the upkeep,” Mrs. Orr said. “If someone vandalizes it, then you have to replace it.”

Before a geocacher can hide a cache, it has to be approved by a volunteer from the geocaching website. The volunteer will make sure that the coordinates are accurate and that there aren’t any other caches in the vicinity that are too close.

“Every state has a volunteer; someone who volunteers their time to go through the caches,” Mr. Orr said. “Geocaches cannot be placed next to each other. They have to be a minimum of a tenth of a mile apart because that way, when you’re searching for one, you don’t stumble upon another one.”

Hurricane Sandy didn’t affect the Orr family’s hidden caches that much, they said. Only one cache, an old hornet’s nest that Mr. Orr had lacquered and hanged on a tree, was blown away. The rest of the caches are still in good shape.

“Unless the tree went down, the caches are still in place,” Mr. Orr said.

However, as far as hunting for caches post Hurricane Sandy, it has been difficult to travel to the areas where the caches are hidden.

“All the county parks are closed, which it’s where a large amount of caches exist,” Mr. Orr said. “You can still go out to find the more urban hides as long as you have enough gas to travel to get them.”

There are events posted on geocaching.com that are created by geocachers. Any geocacher can attend these events and discuss geocaching. These events are usually held in restaurants or other public venues and are a great opportunity to meet other geocachers.

Geocachers have also their own codes. They use terms that non-geocachers cannot understand. Mrs. Orr said that people who don’t know about geocaching are called “muggles.” The name “muggle”—a non-magical person—comes from the Harry Potter series.

According to www.geocaching.com, usually this term is used after a non-geocacher looks puzzled after befriending a geocacher searching for a cache, or when a non-geocacher accidentally finds a cache. 

Geocaching has allowed the Orr family to spend more time outdoors and to become closer.

“What I enjoy the most is hanging out together and getting out of the house on nice days,” Mrs. Orr said. 

TAP Into Another Town's News:

TAP Into Another Town's News:

Sign Up for E-News


The Primrose School at Mountainside Holds a Free Open House

January 18, 2017

The Primrose School at Mountainside will hold an open house on Saturday, Feb. 4, featuring tours of the school and information on their research- informed approaches to learning.

The Open House is from 10 a.m. until noon, and is free and open to the public.

“This event is perfect for any parents interested in  childcare to learn what The Primrose School at Mountainside ...

Conversion of Single Family Zoning to Multi-Family Zoning Could Start 'Gold Rush' of Development

January 14, 2017

Dear Editor,

I am writing to oppose the construction of a multi-family residence (6 residential units) at 1481 East Broad Street in Westfield.  The construction of a multi-family residence at this location (RS-12 zone district) is contradictory to the township’s 2005 Master Plan, which has zoned this district for single-family home construction only.  Additionally, it requires ...

Westfield Police Blotter: Shoplifting, Drug-Related Arrest & More

January 12, 2017

January 4, 2017 6:23 p.m.

Pietro Maioriello, age 20, of Scotch Plains, NJ, was arrested for possession a controlled dangerous substance under 50 grams pursuant to a motor vehicle stop. Subject was processed and released on a summons.

January 4, 2017 9:21 p.m.

Stephen Thomas, age 21, of Plainfield, NJ, was arrested on the strength of two outstanding warrants for his arrest from Highland ...

Clara Gives Warm Hugs

January 18, 2017

Please meet our Senior Girl Clara.

Clara was rescued when we noticed her at a city shelter begging for help.  We were there to rescue a 13-year-old dog who was dumped by an owner who suddenly had no time for him and we noticed this beauty reaching out to us.

Clara's owner passed away and she found herself stuck at the city shelter.  The fate for a 14-year-old girl is not good ...

Westfield High School Students Selected for Region Band & Orchestra

Seven Westfield High School Band students were accepted to the 2017 New Jersey Music Education Association Region Band or Orchestra.  Three of the seven students placed first overall in their instrument: Dale Beyert - Wind Ensemble and Orchestra, Trumpet; Michael Hauge - Wind Ensemble, Eb & Bb Clarinet, and Brooke Walden - Wind Ensemble and Orchestra, Piccolo & ...

Testing Your Resolve

Now that the ball has dropped in Times Square it is time for another annual tradition – New Year’s resolutions. So, along with improving your diet and exercising more, consider adding these:

“Will” you? – I have lost count of how many clients with whom I have met that have a spouse, children and substantial assets but an outdated or even no will at all.

5 Questions to Ask at an Open House

When you go to your next open house, ask the listing agent these key questions to help you make an informed decision. When a property is hot, a public open house may be your best opportunity for due diligence before submitting an offer. While the hosting agent may not be able to answer all of your questions, there is a lot you can learn.

1. How long has it been on the market?  You may ...

Today’s Bond Market - Should I Stay or Should I Go?

2016’s final days left bond investors unsettled.

Just a few months ago, with the backdrop of the surprise July Brexit vote, U.S. Treasury yields hit record lows. Donald Trump’s election as president has increased concerns of a new round of tax cuts and greater government spending, which could stimulate inflation. The Federal Reserve has finally raised interest rates and is ...

It Even Happened to Me

Beware of credit card fraud — it can happen to anyone.

I was shopping at a retail establishment over the holidays and purchased some items with my business credit card. The next day, I was downloading my credit card activity into QuickBooks and spotted some strange charges - they were not large amounts, but they originated from establishments I don't frequent, like ...

Video: Mistreated, Harassed, Abused, Discriminated Against or Retaliated Against at Work?

Have you been mistreated, harassed, abused, discriminated against or retaliated against by your employer?

Watch this video to learn how Westfield employment attorney Fred Shahrooz-Scampato, who for the last 25 years has aggressively represented employees, can help you.

If you are the victim of prejudice or spend every day in a hostile work environment, you can give him a call for ...

Westfield Area YMCA is Ready to 'Bring on Summer'

It may be cold outside but the Westfield Area YMCA is gearing up for summer camp!  In-person registration is now underway.  Each year campers ages 3-15 try new activities, learn new skills, get creative, have a blast and make new friends in a safe environment.



The Y is excited to offer new S.T.E.A.M (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math) ...

Holy Trinity School Spotlight - 6th Grade

Sixth grade is a transitional year for students as they enter middle school.  Holy Trinity School embraces this change through its continued commitment to creating an environment in which its students can grow and develop academically, socially, and spiritually. 

In sixth grade, the curriculum becomes more departmentalized with students rotating classes for various subjects and ...

Pedestrian Killed After Being Struck on Route 22 is Fourth in Six Months

January 17, 2017

BRIDGEWATER, NJ - An unidentified male died Sunday after he was struck by a vehicle on Route 22 near North Gaston Avenue at about 11:55 p.m., according to a report from Bridgewater Township Police. The man is the fourth pedestrian killed in that section of the roadway since August. In August, two pedestrians were fatally struck and another pedestrian was killed in the westbound lanes in ...