Geocaching? What the heck is that? Geocaching is the sport/hobby/obsession of using a GPS device to locate “caches” placed throughout the world. These “caches” can be anything from a small film vial with nothing more than some paper to log a visit to a full size ammo box that tends to collect anything from happy meal toys to geocoins and travelbugs. These coins and bugs are trackable, numbered pieces that geocachers move around by taking them out of one cache and depositing them in another. When logged properly online they can be tracked as they travel around the state, country or world. The goal of geocaching is not only finding caches but seeing things that you may not have seen before, it makes you get outside and explore. More information and the central hub for all things geocaching can be found at geocaching.com.
I have to admit, I was dragged into this kicking and screaming. I mean, I’m an adventure racer/backpacker. I’ve spent a lot of time in the woods with a map and compass. In ancient times when I was in college I actually taught my geology class how to draw a topo map. What do I need with an electronic devise that points at the goal at all times and gives me time and distance to the find? Well, I learned that this was yet another way of getting the youngest out there. Usually we could count on an “I’m tired” complaint within the the first quarter mile of any hike. What she was saying is “I’m not stimulated enough!” What I learned is that her range would triple and quadruple if she had this little video screen in front of her. So we took up geocaching.
Fast forward to last year and the tourism division of Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism is doing a geocaching project called Cache in on the Natural State. Neat idea to get tourists out and traveling (spending money in restaurants and hotels). This year, as part of the 75th Anniversary of the Arkansas State Parks the director decided that having our own program would be fun. Being the guy in the office who’s not afraid to press the button and having done some geocaching in the past, this became my project.
So we turned it into a challenge. Put one geocache in each state park (52). Each would have a clue that when added together would give the geocacher the coordinates of a final cache where they could pick up a special edition geocoin and then send it on it’s way. These could be tracked by us with hopes of watching them go to parks throughout the world.
We launched about 3 weeks ago and to date there have been over 350 “finds”. We are getting responses on the parks like you wouldn’t believe. I expect the final cache to be found in the next week but many are saying they will do the whole challenge as they can when the weather is cooler. We never expected this kind of turnout. We are getting great comments on the parks at the geocaching.com Web site. If you are interested in this particular outdoor activity go to geocaching.com and get signed up. Information on the ParkCache Challenge can me found on the Arkansas State Park geocaching page. You can find other Arkansans who are hooked on geocaching at ArkGeocaching.org.
Just another reason to go play outside in Arkansas!
You are a genius!