Geocaching merges technology and adventure
As I See It
Thursday, July 22, 2010
Media contact: Chairman Rodney Barreto
Are your kids transfixed by the computer? Are
technical gadgets always on your family's gift list? If so, read on
to learn about "geocaching," a fun way for your family to use
technology to explore the outdoors.
A combination of a treasure hunt and orienteering,
geocaching leads an explorer to a cache or hidden container. A
traditional geocache includes the container, a small trinket (the
"treasure") and a log book with a pen or pencil.
Geocachers are supposed to take the treasure, leave
a memento in its place and then record the swap in the log book.
Once back home, cachers can record their stories and load pictures
on a website. There are several activity variations to keep
things interesting, including virtual, offset, puzzle, mystery and
multi-stage caches, to name just a few. Easy instructions on
how to get started are on the official website, geocaching.com.
According to the website, there are more than 1
million active caches with an estimated 4 million to 5 million
geocachers worldwide. More and more people travel to look for
geocache sites, even if only a short distance away. Some
incorporate the hunts into their vacations. Many parents look
forward to getting away from busy distractions to enjoy the
absorbing activity with their children. Kids learn valuable
skills that are useful in school and transferable to other
recreational activities. It is a great bonding time.
Youth group leaders should consider incorporating
geocaching into their programs. Geocaching is one of the Boy Scouts
of America's newest merit badges.
The hunt for caches may lead the seeker to parks,
historical and cultural sites, along trails and to more remote
landscapes such as the wildlife management areas (WMAs) overseen by
the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC).
Here, explorers will experience the beautiful vistas and abundant
wildlife for which Florida's WMAs are famous.
The FWC encourages geocaching on its properties
because we believe it is one of many ways to entice a new
generation to grow up in the outdoors. We know that a nature
connection is of vital importance to the health and well-being of
children and families and to maintaining support for conservation
of natural areas.
If you are placing a geocache on a WMA, we do
require that you follow a few simple rules. You must place caches
only in locations that will not lead to resource damage, user
conflicts or safety hazards. The FWC requires a no-cost permit to
place a cache. With your help, responsibly placed sites will
open opportunities for new and seasoned geocachers alike.
There are numerous clubs in Florida where you can
meet new friends, learn skills, participate in events and engage in
some friendly competition. All it takes to get started is a
GPS unit and a sense of adventure and curiosity.