On Sunday, we attended a class at the Nature Center to learn about geocaching. We LOVED it! I think we found a new hobby that the whole family can do together!
We learned a little history about the GPS (Global Positioning System/or Satellite) unit, how it works, its uses, and how to operate it. We completed some practice "treasure hunts" and made one of our own.
After the class, we went in search of one of the caches at the Nature Center. (They have five total caches hidden in the Shawnee Prairie Preserve.) We used the GPS unit to find the cache, which was hidden inside a hollow log in the woods! We opened it up and signed the logbook to say that we found it. They had some small trade items for kids, but we didn't have anything to trade at the time so we did not take anything. The girls loved taking turns holding the GPS and leading the way. We will soon be getting a GPS for ourselves and plan on going on more hunts around the area. We will eventually make our own caches for other people to find!
At http://www.geocaching.com/ you can find the coordinates to caches all over the world! When we're on our next vacation, probably to Maine, we will take our GPS and do some geocaching!
There are other geocaching games other than finding a hidden container. The "Travel Bug" is a little dog tag type token that has a unique serial number. The person who finds the Travel Bug must hide it in a different location. One of the Darke County Parks' Travel Bug has made its way to California!! The serial number on the tag is how its location is tracked. After making a find, the information is updated on the geocaching web site. We think it would be fun to have a Travel Bug and see where it ends up!
Another geocaching game is a Virtual Cache. This is where you find the coordinates specified and after finding it observe the area. Once back on the geocaching.com web site you take a quiz to prove you were there.
If you are interested in finding out more about geocaching, I highly recommend checking out the web site to learn more. If you want to give it a try and see if you like it, the Darke County Nature Center (at Shawnee Prairie Preserve) does rent out GPS units for a few bucks. I believe they need to stay on the premises, though. (Remember, they have five caches there. Ask them for a printout of the coordinates, or find them yourself at geocaching.com by typing in the zip code in the search box)
(PS. No matter how many spaces I put between paragraphs, the published version of this blog post is always "smooshed" together. Sorry if it was hard to read. I'm not sure how to fix this. It didn't do this in the past, only for the last few posts or so. Hopefully it will correct itself, or I can figure out how to fix it.)