Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Geocaching

I have fallen in love… with a sport. It’s geocaching. Officially, I’ve been registered as a cacher since 2003, which is probably why I got the online name I did. Geocaching had only been around for a few years back then. But then again, it’s not really a new sport at all.
It seems that 100 years ago, a sport called letterboxing was all the rage in England. Letter boxing consisted of people placing a box somewhere that contained a logbook and custom designed rubber stamp. Clues would be posted at letterboxing clubs. The letterboxers would then head out with a logbook, a specially designed rubber stamp of their own, and an inkpad. When they found the letterbox, they would put their stamp in the boxes log, and then stamp their logbook with the boxes stamp. Sound familiar? The technology has changed, but the sport really hasn’t.
Like I said, I’ve been registered as a cacher for a few years now, but my find count is really low. The reason… No GPS receiver. I was trying to find the cache sites with map and compass only. And I found… one… that way. Ya, only one.
I have a GPS now, and my count has gone up 400% in the last couple of weeks.
So now you’re asking yourself… so what’s the big deal? You punch some coordinates into your GPS unit and follow the arrow to a box full of McToys? That doesn’t sound like much fun. Well… sometimes it is just a box full of McToys (you know… the junk you get in Happy Meals) and sometimes it’s just a logbook, and sometimes it’s a history lesson about what used to be there. And sometimes it’s a great view. Lately, my finds have been MicroCaches. These are tiny little caches, about the size of a button, usually magnetic, and stuck to light poles, or benches, or whatever in parks and parking lots and the like. I’ve found two MicroCaches, and could not find two others. How do you know when you’ve found one? Well, once you find it, you can unscrew the top and pull out a tiny scroll of paper (that’s the log book) and sign your name to it. I hate these things… but then, I love the search…so I guess it’s kind of a love/hate thing.
I have a plan to place a geocache at Silver Moccasin this year up at Camp Travis. It’ll be the staff site. I’ll put one logbook in for SM staffs (past, present, and future) and then one logbook for everyday cachers. I’ll probably toss in some patches, pictures and totems as well. It’ll be a nice tribute to a program that has dominated my life for the past 4 years, and has such great potential for changing the lives of young men. To tell you true, it was Jared (our Senior Patrol Leader from last year) that gave me the idea. He’s moved on to bigger and better things, but I still think that it’s a good idea.
There is one thing that bothers me. I teach orienteering to youth groups on occasion. One time I taught a mountaineering club. That was scary, because, all I know about the subject, is what I learned when I was a scout, oh so long ago. I know how to orient a map, triangulate a position, hold a bearing, and read the contours on a topo. I’ve never taken a class, or anything. It’s a subject I like, so I’ve taught myself. So I figured that they (the mountaineers) would see through my lack of technical knowledge and kick me out. But there I was in front of a group of mountaineers, teaching away, and slowly realizing that these guys had no idea how to use a compass, and many of them could not read a map, since they all had very expensive GPS units. Is map reading going the way of the dinosaur? What do these guys do if their batteries run out, while they’re off trail? I’ll tell you what… they wait for some map reading freak like me to come and rescue their butts… that’s what.
So, as much as I love Geocaching with a GPS unit and love the technology, I think that way to many people have no idea what they’re really doing or where they are in the great outdoors.
But really, don’t be a muggle, try out Geocaching… it’s fun.

2 comments:

Ryan said...

Woohoo for geocaching! First time commenting, and I was browsing across random blogs when I saw your post about Silver Moccasin NYLT. I almost fell out of my chair, as I'm on staff there too! (Ryan, QM, 1st course for 07') Talk about shock. Anyway, I'm glad to know that I'm on the only SM Staff member that is addicted to Geocaching.

bindyinslc said...

Thanks for visiting my blog and for your comments. They were appreciated. I see you are a Serenity/Firefly fan. I fell in love after a weekend marathon. I couldn't believe they cancelled it. Geocaching sounds really interesting. I'll have to check it out.

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