Guest blog post by Shannon H. White from the 4-H Summers@Mizzou GeoTech Summer camp. White will be speaking during CFM’s Missouri Outdoor Summitnext week in the ‘Play Outdoors’ session.
Ever dream of going on a current day treasure hunt? Following a map and searching for the hidden treasure? You, your family and your friends can do just that, no matter where you are by going geocaching. Geocaching is an outdoor treasure hunting game all over the world that utilizes Global Positioning Satellite, GPS, technology ideal for youth and adults alike, anyone can do it! There are even accessible caches for persons with limited mobility.
A group geochaches during the 4-H Summers @ Mizzou GeoTech Summer camp. Photo by Shannon H. White, PhD
After entering the coordinates the participants follow their GPS and use their observational and navigation skills to locate the hidden cache. Typically the GPS coordinates will only get you nearby to the cache and then seekers have to use their senses to find the hidden treasure. Depending on the type of geocache you find, you are then encouraged to take something from inside of the container as well as leave something of your own behind for the next participant. Most caches have at a minimum a log to sign, so bring a pencil and make sure you document your adventure in the great outdoors. There are eighteen different types of caches, so it is important to know what they all are and what you are looking for before you head out.
Geocaching is a wonderful opportunity to get outside and explore your surroundings. Geocaching and using GPS has become quite popular within the 4-H youth program. Within this project area, youth learn about the GPS technology involved and how to use it. Though they are using technology, they are using it to get outdoors and explore. Youth are encouraged to learn and ask questions about their surroundings that they may not have before. To learn more about Missouri 4-H and their GPS program, go to the following link. (http://4h.missouri.edu/programs/mapping/)
Getting started in geocaching is very simple. All you have to do is visit the geocaching website, (https://www.geocaching.com/play) create an account, and then go to the Hide and Seek a Cache link under the Play tab to find all of the caches near you. Then you are off into the great outdoors with just your friends and a GPS capable device. There are even mobile phone apps for geocaching and GPS. After you get the hang of it, you can even create your own cache. The kind of cache you make and where you put it is all up to you, get creative!
A boy geocaches at a creek during the 4-H Summers@Mizzou GeoTech Summer camp. Photo by Shannon H. White, PhD.
A student updates his geocache log during the 4-H Summers@Mizzou GeoTech Summer camp. Photo by Shannon H. White, PhD.
For all of your geocaching questions, the Geocaching 101 guide is a wonderful tool. https://www.geocaching.com/guide/ Between the different types of caches, the acronyms and all of the other lingo it is easy to get caught up and confused as a beginner. Don’t let any of that hold you back though, geocaching is an exciting game that you can introduce to all of your friends and family. Once you really get into being a geocacher, you will realize that you are now a part of a network that many have no clue even exists!