Modern Day Treasure Hunting

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.
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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.

The Geocaching Club

The Haldimand 4-H Geocaching Club

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.

Geocaching displays made by Members

Members with their Geocaching displays at Achievement Day

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”.

Geocachers and their families

The Geocachers and their families at Achievement Day

Growing Up in 4-H

Hi everyone! I’m going to take this golden opportunity to introduce myself to you all, my name is Danielle and I am the new Summer Communications Assistant for 4-H Ontario AND the newest blogger for 4-H Folklore! I look forward to sharing the awesome stories of 4-H’rs all over Ontario with you. For my first post I’d like to share the story of the person who inspired me to join the 4-H team, my friend Heather Hargrave. Heather has been involved in 4-H, one way or another, for most of her life. Her family owns an angus cattle farm in Maxwell, Ontario which is how she got started showing cattle. From Dundalk Agricultural Junior Calf Club to becoming a 4-H Leader, read on as Heather shares her 4-H experiences and how 4-H helped her get where she is today.
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Growing Up in 4-H
By Heather Hargrave

Heather HargraveI got my first taste of 4-H before I was old enough to join the program.  My Dad and Uncle had been active in 4-H and showing cattle at fairs across Ontario, so they encouraged my brothers and I to participate in the Dundalk Agricultural Junior Calf Program at the local Fall Fair; a club for kids who thought they might join 4-H someday. My brothers and I then joined 4-H once we were old enough. The initial reason behind my joining the Dundalk Agriculture Junior Calf Program and 4-H was the responsibility of taking care of an animal, though I also enjoyed going to the fairs and competing.  I can still to this day remember the name of every animal that I looked after for the Dundalk Agricultural Junior Calf Program and 4-H projects – all 16 of them.

It was nice to have friends that didn’t think I was crazy for getting up at 4 a.m. on a weekend to go to a fair

When I first started in 4-H, the part that I loved most was competing; I liked finishing first whether it was with my calf or in a showmanship class.  As I got older the program became more about the people that were in it; it was nice to have a group of friends in my area, as well as other areas of the province, that had the same interests that I did and didn’t think I was crazy for getting up at 4 a.m. on a weekend to go to a fair.

Heather Hargrave with cow Barbara in 1997
Heather Hargrave at a competition with cow Barbara in 1997

A lot of other good memories happened because of 4-H as well. Growing up, most of our family vacations and weekends in the summer and fall revolved around 4-H shows and showing cattle. Because of this, I’m really close with my two brothers.  We travelled all across Canada together and experienced the wins and the losses together.

There are a lot of skills and lessons I’ve learned from my 4-H experience that I still use today. The judging skills I acquired through 4-H, help me make decisions, formulate reasons why I made that decision, and justify my choices. 4-H also builds leaders and teaches its Members about leadership.  Having the confidence and the skills necessary to take on new challenges is a huge part of personal and professional development.  I find the opportunities and experiences I had in 4-H have given me the confidence to continue to push myself and try new things both personally and in my job.

Heather Hargrave with cow "Roxy" in 2005
Heather Hargrave with cow Roxy in 2005

Today, I’m the Program Coordinator for Farm & Food Care Ontario , a not-for-profit organization that provides information about food and farming. After highschool, when I was trying to decide what to study and which university to attend, my 4-H experience played a big role in my decision making process. The life long passion I have for agriculture which started because of 4-H, lead to me choose to study Agricultural Business at the University of Guelph.  I was hoping to find a career in the industry once I graduated, and that’s just what I did. I’m sure my involvement with 4-H helped me land a job with an organization that I believe is providing a great service to the agriculture industry.

I’ve remained involved with 4-H by becoming a 4-H Leader.  I had been a 4-H Alumnus for two months before I was approached to help lead a Beef Club in Wellington Association.  I really enjoy teaching the kids about different facets of the industry and helping them achieve their goals.  It’s really rewarding for me, as a Leader, to see how much personal growth each Member achieves over the course of the 4-H Club, and to see them succeed in other activities and parts of their lives.  That’s truly what 4-H is all about – growing future leaders.

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Share Your 4-H Story4-H Ontario’s Alumni program is funded through a Promotional Partnership with Hyland Seeds, including the position of 4-H Ontario’s Coordinator, Alumni Services. Hyland Seeds is passionate about agriculture and believes in supporting the people who are deeply rooted in the agricultural industry; dedication to 4-H is proof of this commitment. Thank you Hyland Seeds!