A long, long….Oh, so very long time ago I served in the United States Army. It was a challenging time in my life and I learned some good and not so good life skills. One of my favorite activities that our unit would participate in was orienteering. They would give us a map and a compass and you learned how to find places or buildings on the map using the legend as a guide. For instance at one point where the coordinates met there could be a school, or a rail road track. That sort of thing,and that was fun to learn. It was even more fun when we were put into teams and taken out in the middle of nowhere with only your compass and the map to find your way back to the main camp. Yes, we would get lost, but we would get back on track and find our way.
When my son was old enough for his Boy Scout troop to learn orienteering I was sure he would find it as much fun as I did. But they took it one step further, and go Geocaching. I had never heard of this until my husband, Tim and son, Sean learned how to do it with a bunch of Scouts. In fact, to earn a badge in Geocaching one set of Scouts make the route and the other set of Scouts have to find all the sites.
Geocaching is a real world, outdoor treasure hunting game using GPS. You are given a set of GPS coordinates and then attempt to find the containers hidden in that location. Inside the containers are treasures left behind by others who had found the spot before you. My son, Sean said they have found things like a slip of paper with advise for a good life, or a fortune cookie, action figures, matchbox cars and Boy Scout patches. Part of the game is to take out an object, and then replace it with a different object. Sometime the GPS devises are not the most accurate and the challenge comes in finding the container, A container can be a large wooden box, or as small as a baby jar hanging from a tree branch. Inside the container is also a log book, so you may sign your name so there is a record of how many people have found the spot.
In March of this year Ohio played host to the world’s largest geocaching competition. Ohio University’s Baker University Center Ballroom served as Mission Central. The Midwest Open Geocaching Adventure has a different theme every year. The theme for 2014 was Geocaching: Impossible. As many as 500 participants from as far away as Texas and Canada were there this past March 28-30th. Many families participate under a team name. One participant said that it was a great way to see new places. Many geocaches take you to a historic site or a beautiful, undiscovered place with a great view. The competition in Ohio concludes with an awards ceremony with medals given to the winners.