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Locals enjoy geocaching

The pastime of geocaching has become a passion for many around the world, across the state and in Oxford.

The hobby lets participants locate hidden containers using only GPS coordinates and is growing in popularity each year.

Scott and Lacey Bishop of Oxford have been geocaching as a family with their daughter since 2005. They have logged more than 3,000 caches in nine states.

Their daughter, Katelyn, has been tagging along since she was 4 years old. The family plans their vacations around geocaches.

Since geocaching started in September 2000, it has continued to be a hobby for all ages. According to the official geocaching website, since the site’s online launch with only 75 caches, there are now 2,766,084 active geocaches and more than 15 million geocachers worldwide. The number of participants has nearly tripled in less than two years.

Getting started

With dozens of caches scattered over the Oxford-Lafayette area and several located on the Square, the best way to get started for beginners includes a smartphone with the location services turned on as well as the basic geocaching membership, which is free online.

The inner ethics of geocaching is: if a geocacher takes something from the geocache, he or she should leave something of equal or greater value and sign his or her name in the logbook.

Getting outdoors

While Lacey Bishop said she does not go alone, mainly because it is more fun when accompanied, she tries to encourage other women to enjoy the great outdoors.

“The biggest thing I try to promote is getting women outdoors,” she said.

Many of the caches are placed along nature trails, in parks and many require some effort to locate.

She said geocaching in Mississippi is a fun trip she enjoys with friends, family and fellow cachers. With more than 5,000 caches to choose from statewide, the state has caches in every state park and all along the Mississippi Blues Trail.

Al Carrington discovered the hobby while taking a class at Northwest Mississippi Community College.

“I looked at the description and said ‘Oh I’ve got to do this,’” he said.

He printed out the page with the directions and got started. At the end of the first cache all he found was a small silver container that changed his life. The friends and memories made led him to take up kayaking and mountain biking as well.

He has found more than 3,722 caches in10 states since September 2007. The most he ever discovered in one day was 800.

Carrington, 58, said geocaching is a hobby that gets older people off of the couch.

Caching as far away as California all the way back to Oxford, he said he enjoyed several caches closer to his home on the other side of Sardis Lake in Tyro.

“Oxford was just the coolest place with a lot of caches,” Carrington said. “It’s just got a little of everything in a small area … It’s a good place to go. It’s smaller than Memphis and you’re comfortable in Oxford.”