After the huge response to our recent article on Geocaching, the founder of the KMC Geocachers, Michelle Muldowney-Stevens, got in touch with us to tell us more about the group she started and how you can get involved…
I started geocaching, which is basically a worldwide high tech scavenger hunt, during one of my husband’s deployments as a way to get out, keep active and explore our community with my daughter. I started the group Geocache KMC in 2009 or 2010 to meet other English speaking geocachers in the area. Being new to caching, I was looking for some seasoned geocachers to help show me the ropes.Being in Germany, the language was a little intimidating for a new geocacher but google translate soon became my new best friend. I’ve now been caching for about 5 years, made many new friends through the group and just found my 1500th geocache. Between my husband and I, we have logged caches in 22 countries. My husband is currently deployed but that doesn’t keep me and my daughter from strapping my almost two year old twins on our backs and hitting the trail.
When planning trips, I’ve been known to look up the caches in the area we are visiting before anything else. I always look for the caches with the most favorite points to help me discover interesting places that most locals don’t even know about. Here in the KMC, geocaching has lead us to interesting locations such as dragons’ teeth antitank barricades, bunkers, an old Roman fort and Celtic burial mounds.
Back in 2010 during the spring break volcano eruption, my daughter and I were stranded in Sweden for 10 days. We were stuck in a place where nothing was open for the season and it was too expensive to travel elsewhere. Geocaching saved the trip. We spent our entire time hiking and exploring the area, cache by cache.
As a group, Geocache KMC has gotten together to find local caches, travel to events, celebrate geocaching milestones, or to wish our active groups members “auf wiedersehen” as they move on to their next duty station. The group is a great way to meet others interested in the hobby. We have members that would be more than happy to meet up with newbies to show them the ropes. With over 260 members, we have geocachers of all types. We have those who have really gotten into climbing and rapelling and then we have members with young children that have to stick to the easier trails and urban caches.
Recently, one of our members, Antje Desilets, worked with the local German forest agency to organize a CITO (cache in, trash out) event to bring the American and German communities together. The event started at a parking lot where we broke into groups and worked our way up to the no fee wild animal park in Kaiserslautern, picking up trash throughout the woods along the way. At the final meeting point, which was actually in the deer habitat, the forest service provided us with a luncheon and group members brought baked goods, coffee and tea to share. We had a total of 42 geocachers come out, American and German, plus the staff from the forest service. The forest service introduced the kids to the animals and gave them bread to feed the deer. After the event, many of us broke up into groups to find some more caches in and around the park.
I think it’s important for people to know that you don’t have to go out and buy another gadget in order to start geocaching. Geocaching.com has smart phone apps that work wonderfully. You can get a free version which only includes the beginner geocaches or you can get the regular version which is $9.99. A basic membership at geocaching.com is free but once you get going, I’d recommend purchasing the premium membership, which is $29.99 annually or $9.99 for 3 months, to open up all the geocaches and features of geocaching.com.
There is also a Facebook Geocaching group for Stuttgart.