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Teaching an Intro To Geocaching Class


Snoogans

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Okay, I know there's a whole format for a Geocaching 101 class, (Durned if I can find a link.) but what about an Intro class for folks who know NOTHING of geocaching? :drama::)

 

I have 50min. to 1 hour of classroom time and 1 hour in the field to teach twice in November for my local Parks & Rec. Dept. :)

 

I figured I'd do a couple minutes on Dave Ulmer hiding the first cache after S.A. was turned off plus:

 

how to set up a user account

 

cache search of the local zipcode

 

types of caches including events

 

how to find caches that fit with your personal aesthetic to avoid burnout

 

safety tips and resources to learn to identify poisonous plants, etc.

 

pass around examples of caches, swag, travel bugs, geocoins, sig items, etc.

 

discuss trading ethics

 

discuss trackables with emphasis on responsible handling and the fact that they are NOT swag

 

briefly discuss other cache listing services and gps games including Waymarking

 

briefly discuss this forum as well as local and regional forums

 

Most importantly I plan to teach the class how to get cache published and where to obtain proper permission so the process goes as smooth as possible since I know of quite a few folks quit caching over the approval process.

 

Is there anything I'm missing? :) I could easily turn all that into 2 hours of class time if I had to. Should I leave any of that out? :D

Edited by Snoogans
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Okay, I know there's a whole format for a Geocaching 101 class, (Durned if I can find a link.) but what about an Intro class for folks who know NOTHING of geocaching? :drama::)

 

I have 50min. to 1 hour of classroom time and 1 hour in the field to teach twice in November for my local Parks & Rec. Dept. :)

 

I figured I'd do a couple minutes on Dave Ulmer hiding the first cache after S.A. was turned off plus:

 

how to set up a user account

 

cache search of the local zipcode

 

types of caches including events

 

how to find caches that fit with your personal aesthetic to avoid burnout

 

safety tips and resources to learn to identify poisonous plants, etc.

 

pass around examples of caches, swag, travel bugs, geocoins, sig items, etc.

 

discuss trading ethics

 

discuss trackables with emphasis on responsible handling and the fact that they are NOT swag

 

briefly discuss other cache listing services and gps games including Waymarking

 

briefly discuss this forum as well as local and regional forums

 

Most importantly I plan to teach the class how to get cache published and where to obtain proper permission so the process goes as smooth as possible since I know of quite a few folks quit caching over the approval process.

 

Is there anything I'm missing? :) I could easily turn all that into 2 hours of class time if I had to. Should I leave any of that out? :D

It almost sounds like you are mixing GEO100 Intro to Geocaching with GEO201 Intermediate Geocaching Topics.

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how to find caches that fit with your personal aesthetic to avoid burnout
This isn't really a Geocaching 101 topic. Teach them how to check the terrain, difficulty, and size, with particular emphasis on starting with easier, larger caches. Leave the subtlety of caches that fit their personal aesthetic until they've found enough to develop a personal aesthetic.

 

pass around examples of caches, swag, travel bugs, geocoins, sig items, etc.
I sat in on a local Geocaching 101 class. One of the most helpful things the instructor did happened during the transition from classroom to field time. He took them just outside the classroom, to a small area that was roped off. He told them that there were several geocaches hidden in this area, and then challenged them to spot them from where they were standing. Everyone could spot the regular container at the base of the bush. Most spotted the small container hanging from a branch. But it took some time before anyone spotted the fake rock, or the smaller, more deviously camouflaged caches.

 

Most importantly I plan to teach the class how to get cache published and where to obtain proper permission so the process goes as smooth as possible since I know of quite a few folks quit caching over the approval process.
Again, this doesn't seem like a Geocaching 101 topic. Discuss it briefly and make sure they know where to find the guidelines when they're ready to hide a cache, but don't spend too much time on this.

 

Keep the class-time moving, and pass around sample containers, geocoins, TBs, etc. while you talk. Get them outside and hand each group a loaner GPSr with the coordinates of a nearby cache already loaded into it. (Hide one yourself if there isn't an appropriate cache already published.) Get them geocaching (rather than merely hearing about geocaching) as quickly as possible.

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how to find caches that fit with your personal aesthetic to avoid burnout
This isn't really a Geocaching 101 topic. Teach them how to check the terrain, difficulty, and size, with particular emphasis on starting with easier, larger caches. Leave the subtlety of caches that fit their personal aesthetic until they've found enough to develop a personal aesthetic.

 

pass around examples of caches, swag, travel bugs, geocoins, sig items, etc.
I sat in on a local Geocaching 101 class. One of the most helpful things the instructor did happened during the transition from classroom to field time. He took them just outside the classroom, to a small area that was roped off. He told them that there were several geocaches hidden in this area, and then challenged them to spot them from where they were standing. Everyone could spot the regular container at the base of the bush. Most spotted the small container hanging from a branch. But it took some time before anyone spotted the fake rock, or the smaller, more deviously camouflaged caches.

 

Most importantly I plan to teach the class how to get cache published and where to obtain proper permission so the process goes as smooth as possible since I know of quite a few folks quit caching over the approval process.
Again, this doesn't seem like a Geocaching 101 topic. Discuss it briefly and make sure they know where to find the guidelines when they're ready to hide a cache, but don't spend too much time on this.

 

Keep the class-time moving, and pass around sample containers, geocoins, TBs, etc. while you talk. Get them outside and hand each group a loaner GPSr with the coordinates of a nearby cache already loaded into it. (Hide one yourself if there isn't an appropriate cache already published.) Get them geocaching (rather than merely hearing about geocaching) as quickly as possible.

 

VERY helpful! Thank you very much. :)

 

I would like to hear from more attendees of geocaching classes to know what did and didn't work for you. :drama::D

Edited by Snoogans
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The OP agenda sounds great if your group is already familiar with geocaching and GPS usage.

 

If not...I've covered very few of those topics in an Intro to Geocaching presentation for non-cachers. I find that most non-cachers don't know what GPS is or how to use a unit (which isn't mentioned in your agenda), so I often use the Geocaching PowerPoint deck and my general topic buckets are:

 

- What is geocaching and who does it (how it started, what do you do, where do you do it, trading trinkets, people of all ages, families, etc etc etc)

- What is GPS and those funny location numbers (gubmint hardware to find their lost ammo cans, etc)

- Geocaching.com (more basic than your list) - just explaining how to read a cache page (cache types, container size, D/T, attributes, etc etc) is key (and can take 10 minutes with queries), plus how to register, search for caches, maps, etc. Help pages, forums...

- Basics of GPS receivers and how to use them (unit agnostic - stuff that they all have/do)

- Caching do's and don'ts, etiquette

- CITO, permissions, working with parks - how we are good citizens of our community

- Examples of caches, handouts, and books, etc. on side table. I always try to have a handout of an upcoming event in their area (the cache page printed) so they have a followup 'action item' if they're interested.

- I've also set temp caches for them to find if it's a longer time frame (say, 3 hrs). For a youth group last spring, I set up six temp caches, mocked up gc.com cache pages so they could how they'd be represented, borrowed GPS units from REI and preprogrammed the caches into them (teaching the class to input coords would have taken too much time alongside everything else), and turned them loose for 45 minutes after the indoor presentation to find them. The kids went in teams, taking turns using the shared GPSr, with an adult geocacher shadowing them.

 

It's easy to overwhelm newcomers with info, and 60-90 mins isn't very long, esp with a Q&A period, so I generally don't discuss trackables, premium features (like PQs), specialized searches, how to publish a cache (if they don't even know what caching or GPS is, this is way too early for that), outdoor safety (that's another class), etc.

 

Sorry, this is a bit stream-of-consciousness cos I'm in a hurry, but hope it helps.

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Before thinking what to include in the presentation, you should know your students better: are they comfortable with technology, computers, gadgets with buttons?

Assuming the answer is yes, then I'd concentrate on these topics:

+ latitude and longitude, brief explanation

+ how to use the GPSr:

-- powering up, waiting to acquire satellites;

-- determining current coordinates;

-- navigating to specific coordinates;

-- manually entering coordinates.

+ geocaching, with:

-- mention of geocaching.com website, where most info can be found;

-- brief history (when and how it started, how it evolved);

-- geocaching "rules" for finders;

-- etiquette, accent on "respect the environment";

-- cache types, sizes, terrain, difficulty, attributes, cache description, hint;

-- swag and trackables;

-- hiding caches, permission, saturation.

 

I think that's enough for 50 minutes, no need to drown them in information. Prepare some containers to show them as examples (with logbook, swag and trackables) - ammo can, lock-n-lock, bison tube, plus a custom or camoed container. After the course hand them the preloaded GPSr's and guide them to find the caches.

During the hunt, you can continue the course with safety tips, respect the law, respect the environment (again). At the cache site, techniques to locate the cache (what to look for). After the find, signing and trading etiquette. Repeat for next caches.

 

People comfortable with computers are able to check the website, sign up, locate caches in their state/county, find the forums, find the information they need.

If your students are not computer and technology savvy, then your task is more difficult. I'd suggest another introductory course for using computers, but that will take many hours. In this case, I'd probably present them the same topics described above, and feel sorry for those who won't be able to look up caches.

 

My background: everything I know about geocaching I found out alone, from the web and from doing it in the field. Adding topics like how to set up an account, how to search for caches in an area, or reading info from the site would bore me to hell - just give me the link and let's move on.

On the other side, my mother is a technophobe. It's useless to try to drag her in front of a computer, she won't touch it - the maximum she does is browse pictures in a folder. Showing her how to follow the arrow on the GPSr took a long time (keep it level, point it forward, keep moving, look at the distance, go around the building not through it, yes it's normal that the arrow shows left while we go forward, don't rotate the GPSr, keep it level, keep moving, etc). If you have such students, teach them about the activity they are able to do (going out and finding caches), and let their kids/coworkers help them with using the site and uploading coordinates into the GPSr.

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Lot's of good suggestions that I can use. Keep them coming. :D:):)

 

My background: everything I know about geocaching I found out alone, from the web and from doing it in the field. Adding topics like how to set up an account, how to search for caches in an area, or reading info from the site would bore me to hell - just give me the link and let's move on.

 

I agree with this, but I can only move ahead at the pace of the slowest group. I figured that I would find out how fast I could move from the students in the first few minutes of the class.

 

My class size could be anywhere from 5-25 people and they will most likely not know much about geocaching if at all and in many cases not even be very computer literate. :drama:

 

When I started geocaching, I learned everything on my own and was pretty expert in just a couple of weeks, but it was like peeling layers of an onion. My vision for this class is to cut the onion in half so the layers can be seen more clearly than when I first started. :)

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The plan in the first post tries to cover too much ground, in my opinion.

 

I've been helping with an hourlong introduction to geocaching program. I didn't write it, but here's what we do:

 

1. Very brief history of pre-GPS navigation.

2. Brief history of GPS.

3. Show video. How Does GPS Work? It's from NASA. Meant for kids, but helpful for adults too.

4. Brief mention of uses of GPS. Agriculture, surveying, hunting and fishing, automotive navigation, etc.

5. History of geocaching. Mention geocaching.com. Show map with nearby caches.

6. Cache types. The "rules." Swag and trackables. Pass around actual trackables, if possible.

7. Cache sizes. Show and tell with typical containers and a log book.

8. Don't. What not to leave as swag, how caches should not be hidden.

9. Why try geocaching? Why it's fun.

10. Questions so far?

11. Go outdoors, distribute GPS units with waypoints preloaded, explain how to choose a waypoint and use navigation screens.

12. Turn them loose to look for a temp cache hidden for the session.

 

We have swag in the temp caches and tell them that it's a prize for them, and not to worry about trading this time.

 

I think it would be useful to give attendees a printout to take home, even if it just has geocaching.com and the web site of the local geocaching group on it.

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The plan in the first post tries to cover too much ground, in my opinion.

 

I think you may be right. I will have a set of notes ready on all of these topics, especially the ones I hadn't considered, but I'll still be forced to move at the pace of the class. I'll have a list of links to important info and that way whatever we don't have time for in class, they can look up for themselves. ;)

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Lots of great suggestions here. Many of them I use in my presentations to high schools, Scout troops and church groups.

 

I think that the most important thing a newbie needs to know is that there are guidelines and where to find them listed. Without getting into excruciating detail highlight the guidelines where new cachers most often run afoul. Emphasize the need for 'adequate' permission and try to use examples of why adequate is a case-by-case decision. Perhaps use the Frisbee rule (If it's okay to play Frisbee there then it should be okay to hide a cache there) though of course that's not infallible.

 

Touch on any cache-restricted or permit-required areas near them.

 

When I present to geocachers and newbies at an event I cover some of the more detailed items in a Geocaching 101 style... call this Geocaching 099 - Remedial Common Sense As Applied To Geocaching.

 

Let me propose that we write this up as a guide - call it Intro To Geocaching and include stuff like illustrations of the GPS system, pictures which support the main points, links, the things listed above, etc. If done right this can be a really fun 30 minute presentation, 15 minute Q&A, then 30 minutes to find some temp caches that you hid for the class... or real caches if they happen to be nearby.

 

If there is a good place nearby I might hide a traditional cache, list it under my account (so I will be owner) but put the school, church, Scout troop, whoever as 'Owner' in the Cache Placed By field and they can all set a watch on it as if it were their own.

 

Then any geocacher who wants to use the guide in a presentation can use it as a base to pull ideas from (or add ideas to) or adopt it as a 'handout' that can be mailed to prospective attendees in advance of the class.

 

I have found that with newbies the KISS concept works best. ;)

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