One of the first things that a new geocacher has to learn is that 'all caches were not created equal'! There are in fact many different types of caches that will challenge those who set out to find them on a variety of levels. The most common types of caches are the following:
Traditional / Basic Cache: The traditional Geocache is simply a container (usually made of plastic but sometimes also from metal eg an ammunition box). The cache will usually contain a logbook, a pen and some small items that can be changed. These items are sometimes called SWAG (' Stuff we all get '). The role of swag and swag etiquette will be discussed more fully later on.
Micro-cache: Micro-caches are, as the name indicates, very small. Some of them are so small that they contain nothing but a tiny logbook.
Multi-cache: A multi-cache is part of an extended puzzle where one cache leads to another. In most cases the first cache contains some kind of hint or directions to help geocachers to find the second one and so on.
Mystery cache: Mystery caches take the difficulty of finding a cache to the next level in the sense that just about everything about the cache (including the actual coordinates) will have to be 'solved'. Geocachers will have to do some sleuthing before being able to set out to actually go to find the cache.
Earth-cache: An earth-cache is a special kind of cache as it is directly related to some aspect of the Earth's geology. Finders have a wonderful opportunity to learn more about our planet.
Letterbox cache: Letterboxing has been a popular activity in some English national parks (especially on Exmoor and Dartmoor) for over a century. Players leave clues which, when decrypted, lead letterboxers to a container that holds postcards and / or rubberstamps. This can later be used to prove that a specific box had been found. A letterbox-geocaching hybrid cache combines the best of both worlds. Players are still issued with cryptic instructions (as is the practice in letterboxing) but also with GPS coordinates.
The fact that there are so many different types of caches means that geocaching is a sport that can challenge enthusiasts on many different levels. If you take up geocaching you will soon discover that you are never too old to learn! A useful lesson both in treasure hunting and in life!