Geocaching allows Boy Scouts to navigate nature while enjoying the best of what technology has to offer, and it gives them a chance at a merit badge.
“Geochaching is a fun event they can do throughout the United States,” Troop 102 leader Jackie Palic said. “Many (geocaches) draw you to places that you wouldn’t normally visit. One around here is a beautiful walk along the Cottonwood River and you see one of the largest cottonwood trees you’d ever see.”
Heather Schlehuber, with her husband Jim of rural Marion, operates many geocaches in Kansas. She introduced five members of Boy Scout Troop 102 — Remington Putter, John Lind, William Holt, Zach Fruechting, and Jacob Spachek — to geocaching Saturday at Marion County Lake
What is geocaching? The Boy Scouts Web site advertises it as a high-tech treasure hunt — Long John Silver with a global positioning system.
While it may not sound difficult, a GPS will only guide the user to within 15 to 17 feet of the cache. Usually caches are well hidden under rocks, foliage, and camouflage.
There are two caches at Marion County Lake and the Boy Scouts found a large cache underneath a collection of rocks overlooking the dam. Inside was a collection of small, random items including a golf ball and glow sticks.
Here’s how geocaching works: the scouts go to geocaching.com and look up coordinates in their area, typing in 66861, their zip code, will bring up three pages of caches. Using a global positioning system equipped for latitude and longitude, scouts enter in the map coordinates into the GPS and the electronic equipment leads them to the area of the cache.
A geocache is a container — often an old ammunition box —that are filled with a log book for each visitor to record their name and tiem and swag. Geocaches come in many sizes. Swag is the treasure for the geocacher; it can be cash or an Ipod on the high end or trinkets, toys, and other small items.
Geocachers can take swag from the cache, but geocaching etiquette requires them to replace the items. Other geocaching rules include always hiding geocaches on public property and never burying geocaches.
Geocaching is more about the journey than the destination. Often geocachers will put a cache in an area with a scenic view, or some other type of unique landscape.
Geocaching is a global phenomenon — there are geocaches on every continent, including Antarctica — but the oldest continuing geocache resides off Interstate 70 in Kansas near Mingo.