Who doesn’t love a good old-fashioned treasure-hunt?! For me, there’s nothing like getting out a map and searching for the big “X” that marks the spot. This week, I was introduced to a whole new kind of treasure hunting; geocaching. I had the opportunity to chat with 4-H Volunteer, Bill Strong, and Member, Jackie Eason to learn about geocaching, the Halidmand 4-H Geocaching Club, and their recent Achievement Day.
Bill has been geocaching with his wife, and fellow 4-H Volunteer, Wendy, for about two and a half years. Geocaching is kind of like a treasure hunt game that uses a Global Positioning System (GPS). Bill has an expression he likes to use to explain the activity to others, “Geocaching is using high-tech multi-million dollar satellite technology to hunt for Tupperware in the woods.” In more words, Geocachers access a website that gives them the GPS coordinates of a cache. The Geocachers then use their GPS to help them navigate to the location. The cache may be hidden in a rural area that requires a bit of hiking to reach, or even a more urban area like the middle of a city. A cache is an airtight container; it can be as large as a Tupperware bin or as small as a 35mm film canister. Often the container has to be hidden so it isn’t taken by non-Geocachers, whom Geocachers like to call “Muggles”. Once a cache is found, the finders write in the logbook within the container, then search for the next cache.
Bill and Wendy have also been 4-H Volunteers for seven years and last fall they decided to bring their two passions together. They collaborated with Marie Peart, a long-time 4-H Volunteer, to start the first Haldimand 4-H Geocaching Club. The Haldimand Geocaching Club has about 20 Members, one of whom is Jackie Easson. Jackie is 10 years old and has been a 4-H Member for one year. Geocaching is her second Club. At first she didn’t know what Geocaching was, but to her it sounded really interesting. She asked her father to investigate it a little more and once he explained it was like hunting for treasures, she decided to join right away. So far she says she really enjoys geocahing and has made plenty of new fellow treasure-hunting friends.
Bill and Jackie explained to me that geocaching can become a bit of a contest, like challenging yourself to find one cache each day for a year. Geocaching is quickly becoming a trend among people who enjoy challenges and being outdoors. Many of the Geocaching trips take you to incredibly scenic places you never would have visited otherwise. “Sometimes it’s more about the adventure of getting there than the actual cache itself,” Bill explains.
Sometimes it’s more about the adventure of getting there than the actual cache itself
Bill, Wendy and the Club Members started out their adventure by getting together to ensure all were familiar with GPS and to teach everyone how to program coordinates. The Club then went on Geocaching trips in Dunneville and Caledonia where they hiked along trails in groups of five to locate caches. Bill and Wendy supplied some GPSs for the Members to use, but many brought their own or teamed up with a friend who had one.
Recently the Haldimand 4-H Geocaching Club held their Achievement Day. They decided the day would be an “event cache”, which is where the cache you are hiking to and locating is actually an event of sorts, like dinner with friends or a barbeque. For this particular event cache, the Members worked together to decide on a location and held a potluck lunch. The Members even made informative displays about 4-H, GPSs, and different types of caches. Jackie made a collage of pictures that had been taken at all their Geocaching meetings. The event was posted on the Geocaching website www.geocaching.com, so the Members, their families, Volunteers and even other local Geocachers showed up. Jackie’s family was there to join in on the festivities. “It was a great day of Geocaching and socializing for everyone!” Bill said. “Everyone really enjoyed themselves and it was good to have so many people there to celebrate the Members’ achievements with us”.