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Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Summertime is GEOCACHING TIME!


Summertime is TREASURE HUNTING Time!

The Georgia State Historic Sites History Trail geocaching game is underway-  you can ‘Get Out.  Get Dirty. And Get Fit.’ in a Georgia Historic Site this summer! It’s time to grab your cell phone, comfortable shoes, and a buddy – let’s go Geocaching!

A few weeks ago the Georgia Discovery Educator Network sponsored a day of Geocaching on the square in Decatur.  It was great fun for all of the teachers and family members who attended.  Almost everyone was brand new to the activity, and everyone had fun and learned the basics. Have you heard people talking about Geocaching but you’re still unsure how to get started?  All you need is a cell phone, a willingness to go outdoors and walk or hike (you can decide how much energy you’d like to exert), and a love of treasure hunting.  Here are some tips for beginners (otherwise known as Muggles) who want to start Geocaching. 
·      Go to this article to see a tutorial video and a few websites with basic information.
·      Go to www.geocaching.com and read as much as you can.
·      Learn the “Leave no Trace” guidelines for hiking and exploring.
·      Do a little homework: know that a cache can be one of many different types- Traditional, Multi, Trackable, Offset, Night, Moving, Challenge, etc.--  read about all the types on Wikipedia.  
·      Learn some of the creative ways people hide caches- such as this “fake magnetic bolt”.
·      Download the Geocaching Intro app by Groundspeak.  It is a FREE condensed version of the $9.99 full version, and it will help you get a feel for things before spending money.
·      Learn about the symbols on the app and explore the app before you leave home! It is difficult to read your screen and figure things out in the bright sunlight if you are a beginner.  After you find your first cache it will make more sense.
·      Pack a backpack with a few basic supplies- water, a flashlight, a compass, a pencil, etc. and charge your smart phone. 
·      Recruit a friend to go with you and use the buddy system.  It is much more fun to treasure hunt with a buddy.
·      Open your Geocaching app and find your current location, then find the closest cache- check out the distance from your location, the terrain difficulty, and the cache difficulty level.  You’ll need to choose a low difficulty level for your first cache.  (I suggest the “One Foot in the Grave” cache at the Decatur Cemetery for a first-time cache if you’re in the area- it is great!)
·      Join a Geocaching group or club.
·      Create and place your own cache!
Enjoy your time outdoors and good luck finding treasures.

Sandi Dennis is the Media and Instructional Technology Specialist at The 4/5 Academy at Fifth Avenue in The City Schools of Decatur.