I’ve never hunted for a geo-cache. But I have friends and colleagues who do and descriptions of it sound like the perfect activity to do with children. I’m definitely putting it on my to-do list for this year. I also think that it is the perfect marriage between a love of nature and the use of new technologies.
To quote Coyote’s Guide to Connecting with Nature :
We all love hunts. It’s instinctive. Think of Easter egg hunts or following treasure maps. Look at the popularity of Geo-caching. We think people just love to explore new frontiers and experience the thrill of discovery. We want to grow, learn and push beyond the edges of the known. Hunts present us with opportunities to do exactly that. Jonathon R. Young, Owlink Media Corp. p. 87, 2010
For those of you who have no idea what geo-caching is I’d describe it as advanced treasure hunting but the Manitoba Geocaching Association says this about it:
Geocaching is a worldwide adventure sport which utilizes GPS devices to hide and seek hidden containers called geocaches. To get started geocaching, all you need is a GPS receiver and a geocache location. You can find a nearby geocache location at geocaching.com by entering an address or town into the search box.
It is free to set up a basic account at geocaching.com and many smartphones have a gps-type app if you don’t have access to a GPS receiver.
One of the people who I’ve talked to about geocaching is Suzanne Ott of the South Interlake ATV Club. This summer Suzanne and the children of Garden Grove Child Care created a series of geocaches as part of a project to turn the Interlake Pioneer Trail into a Geocache Power Trail. The children camoflaged plastic water bottles, created their own First to Find (FTF) certificates (yay, literacy!), collected tokens for inside the containers, and gave each cache a personalized name.
The children were very creative and assembled caches with names like The Rocky, Dragonfly, Farm Family, Nature Frenzy, I Love Butterflies and many more.The handmade touch given to the cache’s by the children is appreciated by those who are seeking for the geocaches.
[ 🙂 Found it] Saturday, 27 August 2011 by klblue (1940 found)
“I got up early Saturday and saw a lot of new caches in this area. I figured I had time to get out there and find some of them. Thank the children of GGCC for me. The custom made FTF certificates are great, along with the caches. I was having a lot of fun this morning finding caches along the trail. The caches I didn’t get today, I will try again Sunday morning. Thanks for placing this cache seekersuzie”
This is just one of many positive comments posted by users on geocaching.com in regards to the caches created by the children of Garden Grove Child Care.
The children of GGCC also routinely looked for other geocaches as part of their school age childcare program. “Seekersuzie (Ott’s user name on Geocaching.com) introduced geocaching to the children in the summer of 2010 and many of them have caught the geocaching bug! When we go out on a field trip somewhere, several of them will ask, “Are there any geocaches here?” Now I just load the GPS with caches that may be in the vicinity of where we are going, just in case we have some time to find them” says Ott.
Although the Interlake Pioneer Trail is maintained by the ATV club it is also accessible to hikers, bikers, and people on horses if you’d like to take a more low-tech approach to your treasure hunting. If a GPS system and geocaching seem out of your league you can always try Letterboxing with your children. Courtney of www.activekidsclub.com has a detailed explanation of letterboxing here.
If you’d like to hear more about this project from Suzanne Ott you can register to attend MCCA’s School Age Resource Evening where she will be presenting on geocaching for school age children. The Nature Summit is also hatching a plan for her to do an interactive geocaching workshop at the Nature Summit 2012 – so keep watching this site for more news!
…and in the meantime everyone at Manitoba Nature Summit wishes you happy hunting and many wondrous nature treasures!