Saturday, April 27, 2013

X Marks the Spot (Geocaching) - A to Z April Challenge

Today, Sophia, Olivia, and I spent the morning at William O'Brien State Park where we learned about geocaching by watching a 45-minute presentation and then practiced what we learned by using a GPS to locate eight different caches around the park.

Sophia holding the GPS while Olivia looks on.
We learned how to do geocaching last year at Interstate State Park over Memorial Day weekend. However,  with thunder, lightening, a rainstorm, trying to learn how to use a GPS as well as punching in the coordinates, it was a bit overwhelming. Nonetheless, we were able to explore parts of the park that normally we would not have seen.

One of the caches was near a bat house.
It wasn't there, so the girls headed to 
the next big thing in the area: the tree.

This year, the experience was so much fun and we are eager to go geocaching again - at state parks throughout Minnesota and at places we discover through

A small cache located near a bluebird feeder.

The latter has places throughout the world where caches have been hidden - from tiny micro-caches (smaller than the size of a 35-mm film canister) to large caches.

The first cache we found was the most difficult.
It was metal and was stuck to the inside of a fence.
The cache was an Altoid tin painted black - 
so it was very inconspicuous.

The instructor said one large cache he went to was a playhouse that had a combination that he needed to enter on the lock. Once he opened it, there was "swag" (something we all get)  for anyone who found the cache.

We were at the same destination when another team 
was looking for the cache.
Finally it was found by the other team - 
hidden under a fallen branch.
It was rather large - but very well hidden!

Today's demonstration showed us how caches could be hidden. Some were easy to find and others a bit more challenging.

First, we were divided into teams. The girls and I were paired with another woman (her name was Peggy). As a team, we had two GPS units so we could gain practice on them while finding the caches.

Sophia and Peggy carried the GPS units.
Olivia and Sophia were the primary "finders" of the caches, and
I provided the directions to which location we headed to next.

We found all eight caches which was a huge sense of satisfaction! It was quite an adventure finding some of the caches because we had to go off the trails.

The girls discovered a cache near the base of the tree.
It was buried under some grass.

We were all happy that we wore long pants because some of areas that we walked through had thorny bushes which would have been uncomfortable to walk through if we were wearing shorts.

The last cache the girls found was near a tree.
Olivia had to be close to the ground and 
under a lot of brambles in order to reach it.

One of the things that the instructor said is to make sure to sign the logbook when you find a cache. It's a good idea to bring a pencil or pen with you because one isn't always available - especially in the case of the micro-caches.

Sophia and Olivia in the process 
of signing the logbook.

The state park has a geocaching program with an avian theme. At each state park there is a cache that has a card featuring a bird typically seen at that park. When you find the cache, you can take a card.

Some people are trying to visit all the state parks and collect all the cards (there's a prize for the winner who does that). Others, like us, will visit different parks nearby our homes or when we travel, and go geocaching so we can find the cards and experience being at the state parks in a different way than we normally would do.

We are looking forward to going geocaching in early June when we travel to Grand Marais. We will have the chance to visit up to ten state parks on that trip alone. During the summer, we can visit more parks within driving distance of our home which we're looking forward to doing as well.

Geocaching is a great way to combine geography, nature,  computers, science, math, and physical education into one educational activity. It certainly has and will enrich our homeschooling this year!

1 comment:

Rita said...

wow! That looks fun and challenging! Your trip sounds great. Grand Marais is really a beautiful spot! You'll have to stop at Sven and Ole's Pizza!!! I had a wild rice and chicken pizza there that sounds weird, but was delicious! Take lots of pictures! :)