Geocaching – Orienteering on a grand scale

Travelbug-GPSr
Image via Wikipedia

Recently quite a few of the QCCC Outdoor Education staff team has become hooked on Geocaching. 

Geocachers are an underground network of people living in your community and every other community in Australia, a network of people from all walks of life who are connected through a common interest.  They often behave suspiciously and you may even have seen some and wondered, but they are essentially safe and you need not fear them. 

This hidden network of people are engaging in what can best be described as a giant, worldwide game of hide and seek.  Here’s a Wiki explanation:

Geocaching is an outdoor sporting activity in which the participants use a Global Positioning System (GPS) receiver or other navigational techniques to hide and seek containers, called “geocaches” or “caches”, anywhere in the world. A typical cache is a small waterproof container containing a logbook.

Geocaches are currently placed in over 100 countries around the world and on all seven continents, including Antarctica. After 10 years of activity there are over 1.2 million active geocaches published on various websites devoted to the activity.

For the traditional geocache, a geocacher will place a waterproof container containing a log book (with pen or pencil) and trade items then record the cache’s coordinates. These coordinates, along with other details of the location, are posted on a listing site (see list of some sites below). Other geocachers obtain the coordinates from that listing site and seek out the cache using their GPS handheld receivers. The finding geocachers record their exploits in the logbook and online. Geocachers are free to take objects (except the logbook, pencil, or stamp) from the cache in exchange for leaving something of similar or higher value.

No doubt all around where you live and where you travel to on a daily basis there are Geocaches that are hidden and if you are observant enough there are people either placing them or trying to find them.  You can usually notice a Geocacher because they will be staring at cracks in the wall, looking through a garden bed or looking underneath signs, banisters or anywhere where a crafty concealment is possible.

At its heart Geocaching is very similar to one of the most popular activities offered at QCCC Mapleton – orienteering.  Our Outdoor Education team has delivered orienteering for many years and introduced thousands of people to the basics of map reading, following a compass and using both to steer themselves around the Mapleton campus in search of waypoints.  The same basics are what is required to be an effective geocacher, and it’s addictive.

 One of the great strengths of outdoor education is the ability to teach life skills in very practical ways.  Some suggest the onset of in-car GPS systems will diminish the map-reading skills of the next generation.  But we also see many kids get really excited about orienteering when they’re on our camps and we’re confident they’re remembering those skills for when they’re needed.  Dovetailing it into geocaching might be precisely the thing they need to keep their new-found knowledge sharp long after they leave our campuses!

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