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Penlowe

Girl Scout Geocaching badge

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The GS has had a fun patch for caching for some time, but with the new book has replaced the old Orienteering badge with a Geocaching one (available to Juniors or 4th grade & up). As a novice cacher myself, I think this is both very cool and potentially very chaotic.

 

I haven't had an opportunity to fully read through the badge specifics (still waiting on my book) but was hoping someone here had.

Any cacher GS leaders out there? did you dare take a whole troop on a cache hike? what about planting practice caches? I'd love some feedback before I introduce the topic to my girls.

 

Also, I guess this is just Fair Warning for those not in the Scouting loop, there may be hordes of Girl Scouts descending on your caches! If you have any near churches or schools, expect more activity.

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Be forewarned. The boyscouts have a geocaching badge or belt loop thing similar to the girl scouts and it has been a hot topic with some people. The reason being that part of the requirements are putting a cache in place and watching it for thirty days online. Now there are boy scout caches out there that are well taken care but there are some that once the requirements are met or the boys and leaders move on to the next level the cache is forgotten about. I rather see that the requirements be releasing a TB or coin then placing a cache. The TB could travel are over and that could be exciting to see just where and how far it could go.

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The boyscouts have a geocaching badge or belt loop thing similar to the girl scouts and it has been a hot topic with some people. The reason being that part of the requirements are putting a cache in place and watching it for thirty days online.

 

Incorrect.

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Be forewarned. The boyscouts have a geocaching badge or belt loop thing similar to the girl scouts and it has been a hot topic with some people. The reason being that part of the requirements are putting a cache in place and watching it for thirty days online. Now there are boy scout caches out there that are well taken care but there are some that once the requirements are met or the boys and leaders move on to the next level the cache is forgotten about. I rather see that the requirements be releasing a TB or coin then placing a cache. The TB could travel are over and that could be exciting to see just where and how far it could go.

Actually, requirement 8 reads (bold mine):

 

Do ONE of the following:

a.If a Cache to Eagle® series exists in your council, visit at least three of the 12 locations in the series. Describe the projects that each cache you visit highlights, and explain how the Cache to Eagle® program helps share our Scouting service with the public.

 

b.Create a Scouting-related Travel Bug® that promotes one of the values of Scouting. "Release" your Travel Bug into a public geocache and, with your parent’s permission, monitor its progress at www.geocaching.com for 30 days. Keep a log, and share this with your counselor at the end of the 30-day period.

 

c.Set up and hide a public geocache, following the guidelines in the Geocaching merit badge pamphlet. Before doing so, share with your counselor a six-month maintenance plan for the geocache where you are personally responsible for the first three months. After setting up the geocache, with your parent’s permission, follow the logs online for 30 days and share them with your counselor.

 

d.Explain what Cache In Trash Out (CITO) means, and describe how you have practiced CITO at public geocaches or at a CITO event. Then, either create CITO containers to leave at public caches, or host a CITO event for your unit or for the public.

 

In essence, putting out a new cache is only one of the options. The others are equally valid and, in some cases, preferred. I've not seen any data other than anecdotal that shows a higher incidence of Scout produced caches being poorly maintained than those of cachers as a whole.

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We helped out on a CITO that was part of a Girl Scout project. I thought it was for a geocaching badge, but apparently it was part of her Gold Award. Can't remember if she ended up getting it or not. Smallest event we've ever attended: it was her, her parents, and us.

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c.Set up and hide a public geocache, following the guidelines in the Geocaching merit badge pamphlet. Before doing so, share with your counselor a six-month maintenance plan for the geocache where you are personally responsible for the first three months. After setting up the geocache, with your parent’s permission, follow the logs online for 30 days and share them with your counselor.

 

Unless the cache is going to be archived and removed at the end of that 90 day period, that is woefully inadequate. A year would be inadequate. They need to be responsible (or have somebody that will be acting for them) for the life of the cache.

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Girl Scouts used to have a "Hi-Tech Hide & Seek" Interest Project Award for older girls, but that has been mothballed in advance of new program materials. There was an option to hide a cache and maintain it, but only for four months. The other option was to release a travel bug and track it for at least four months.

 

When the troops that I work with earned that recognition, we elected the travel bug option because the girls decided that, in all honesty, they were not interested in cache maintenance. Our travel bug (Sew Glam One, TBN2CK) was released in 2007 in a cache that was named "Please, Sir, Can I have S'more?" (since archived due to fire) that we tracked for several years before it was unfortunate enough to be in a cache in Ireland that was muggled in 2010.

 

The new Brownie Girl Scout "Letterboxer" and Junior Girl Scout "Cacher" proficiency badge are each part of the new program materials, and I don't know that the booklets are even in publication yet - all online sources say "coming soon."

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d.Explain what Cache In Trash Out (CITO) means, and describe how you have practiced CITO at public geocaches or at a CITO event. Then, either create CITO containers to leave at public caches, or host a CITO event for your unit or for the public.

 

I am a counselor for this merit badge, and each time I have worked with the boys on it, we have chosen this option, as I feel it ties in better with the Leave No Trace principles of Scouting, and provides a better community service. Before teaching the badge, I visit the local photo processors and pick up film canisters, which the boys then fill with trash bags and put CITO labels on them, then they leave them as swag in caches, as well as filling bags of trash during the outing.

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...it has been a hot topic with some people.

My objections had more to do with BSA selling out to commercialism, (Rule 7), deliberately showing preference to one for-profit business over others, requiring that each Scout wanting their merit badge create a free account at that business' website. It makes me wonder how well it would be recieved if BSA said you had to use a Matthews bow to earn the Archery Merit Badge, and/or a Werner compass to earn the Orienteering Merit Badge. As far as I know, this Merit Badge is the first time BSA has sold out to a particular business. Now that the ice has been broken, I doubt it will be the last.

 

Source:

General Merit Badge Requirements.

"You are expected to meet the requirements as they are statedno more and no less. You are expected to do exactly what is stated in the requirements."

Source:

Geocaching Merit Badge Requirements

"7.With your parents permission*, go to www.geocaching.com . Type in your zip code to locate public geocaches in your area. Share with your counselor the posted information about three of those geocaches. Then, pick one of the three and find the cache.

*To fulfill this requirement, you will need to set up a free user account with www.geocaching.com"

Edited by Clan Riffster
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I think people are overreacting and blaming ALL scouts for bad caches... I don't see it. I just found one of the local caches that was hidden by a scout troop that was extremely well maintained. Like ALL caches, there are good owners and bad owners. One of the cleanest and well stocked caches I ever found was hidden by a middle school class whose teacher used geocaching as a teaching tool. I've also found caches that should be thrown in the trash as part of the CITO hidden by well experienced cachers that placed the cache and seem to have forgotten about them.

 

If the cache is bad, log it as such and don't lump the group the owner belongs to as a problem.

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I think people are overreacting and blaming ALL scouts for bad caches....

Your comment piqued my curiosity, so I reread this thread.

There isn't a single post so much as hinting that "all" Scout hides are bad.

What there is, are several people relating their personal experiences with these hides.

The general consensus seems to be that caches placed by Scouts often face neglect.

This certainly matches my personal observations.

 

Of all the Scout/classroom hides I've found, I only remember one that stayed viable for an extended time.

 

Your use of the word "All" seems to be an overreaction. :P:lol::ph34r:

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As I said earlier: "I've not seen any data other than anecdotal that shows a higher incidence of Scout produced caches being poorly maintained than those of cachers as a whole."

 

In my area of central Florida, my experience has been that about a fourth of all caches I've found have maintenance problems (mostly water intrusion). The few Scout placed caches I've seen that are over three months old seem to be no more likely to have maintenance problems than the others.

 

But, again, that is merely my observation and not the result of any special study of the subject. I'm not aware of any specific statistics on the subject, so all of this is largely unsubstantiated blather.

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Thank you all very much for the input! The new GS books are published, but moving very slowly, which is why I still don't have my book yet.

 

Chances are the GS borrowed a lot of ideas from the BSA, which is fine by me. Love the travel bug option, hope it carries over, way better than me taking ownership of a cache when their interest wanes. I've never hidden my own cache yet (formally speaking, I've done hide & seek on the family ranch with friends & family, but not published nor nearly as well hidden as proper caches).

 

I am still curious about cache hiking, with say, more than four people, maybe in the fifteen people range. Is it viable? Do you think hiking part way there then sending groups of two or three the rest of the way is reasonable? Would you only go to where you had already found a cache & were reasonably sure it was there first? Or just let fate roll her dice? Is even that a bad idea?

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...it has been a hot topic with some people.

My objections had more to do with BSA selling out to commercialism, (Rule 7), deliberately showing preference to one for-profit business over others, requiring that each Scout wanting their merit badge create a free account at that business' website. It makes me wonder how well it would be recieved if BSA said you had to use a Matthews bow to earn the Archery Merit Badge, and/or a Werner compass to earn the Orienteering Merit Badge. As far as I know, this Merit Badge is the first time BSA has sold out to a particular business. Now that the ice has been broken, I doubt it will be the last.

 

Source:

General Merit Badge Requirements.

"You are expected to meet the requirements as they are stated—no more and no less. You are expected to do exactly what is stated in the requirements."

Source:

Geocaching Merit Badge Requirements

"7.With your parent’s permission*, go to www.geocaching.com . Type in your zip code to locate public geocaches in your area. Share with your counselor the posted information about three of those geocaches. Then, pick one of the three and find the cache.

*To fulfill this requirement, you will need to set up a free user account with www.geocaching.com"

This is my biggest concern with the merit badge as well (I'm not an MB counselor, but I have helped teach this badge).

 

Things may have changed since I was a Scout (been away from it for about 15 years now), but IIRC, the counselor does, or at least used to, have some room to use their own judgement in deciding whether the Scout met the requirements as they were intended (IOW, did he get the experience he was meant to get). In this case, that would mean giving the Scout some latitude with which site(s) to list his cache(s) on, as long as he completed the remainder of the requirements.

 

If I were the counselor, and the Scout completed all of the requirements to my satisfaction but used another site that openly allows membership just as this one does, I'd probably give him credit for it.

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I am still curious about cache hiking, with say, more than four people, maybe in the fifteen people range. Is it viable? Do you think hiking part way there then sending groups of two or three the rest of the way is reasonable? Would you only go to where you had already found a cache & were reasonably sure it was there first? Or just let fate roll her dice? Is even that a bad idea?

I've always disliked hiking in large packs, whether for caching or any other reason. ~10 is my upper limit.

 

Limiting the "find group" to 3 would be good. In a pack of 15 people, you'll get 2-3 "real" searchers and the rest will stand around doing nothing. And if all 15 are looking, they'll likely tear up the whole area.

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...it has been a hot topic with some people.

My objections had more to do with BSA selling out to commercialism, (Rule 7), deliberately showing preference to one for-profit business over others, requiring that each Scout wanting their merit badge create a free account at that business' website. It makes me wonder how well it would be recieved if BSA said you had to use a Matthews bow to earn the Archery Merit Badge, and/or a Werner compass to earn the Orienteering Merit Badge. As far as I know, this Merit Badge is the first time BSA has sold out to a particular business. Now that the ice has been broken, I doubt it will be the last.

 

Source:

General Merit Badge Requirements.

"You are expected to meet the requirements as they are stated—no more and no less. You are expected to do exactly what is stated in the requirements."

Source:

Geocaching Merit Badge Requirements

"7.With your parent’s permission*, go to www.geocaching.com . Type in your zip code to locate public geocaches in your area. Share with your counselor the posted information about three of those geocaches. Then, pick one of the three and find the cache.

*To fulfill this requirement, you will need to set up a free user account with www.geocaching.com"

This is my biggest concern with the merit badge as well (I'm not an MB counselor, but I have helped teach this badge).

 

Things may have changed since I was a Scout (been away from it for about 15 years now), but IIRC, the counselor does, or at least used to, have some room to use their own judgement in deciding whether the Scout met the requirements as they were intended (IOW, did he get the experience he was meant to get). In this case, that would mean giving the Scout some latitude with which site(s) to list his cache(s) on, as long as he completed the remainder of the requirements.

 

If I were the counselor, and the Scout completed all of the requirements to my satisfaction but used another site that openly allows membership just as this one does, I'd probably give him credit for it.

 

Very interesting, and something I totally didn't think about. Especially as a strong supporter of Geocaching alternatives. And the other 5 alternatives that list caches in the U.S. (seeing as we're talking BSA here, not worldwide), are actually not for profit! Well, one of them, owned by Garmin, is a corporation which is supposedly running a free website for Geocaching.

 

But as Dakboy stated, I'll bet any counselor would accept a membership at another website, and a cache find there.

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I think people are overreacting and blaming ALL scouts for bad caches... I don't see it. I just found one of the local caches that was hidden by a scout troop that was extremely well maintained. Like ALL caches, there are good owners and bad owners. One of the cleanest and well stocked caches I ever found was hidden by a middle school class whose teacher used geocaching as a teaching tool. I've also found caches that should be thrown in the trash as part of the CITO hidden by well experienced cachers that placed the cache and seem to have forgotten about them.

 

If the cache is bad, log it as such and don't lump the group the owner belongs to as a problem.

 

Scout caches *that have been around for a while* *tend to* be in poor shape. There are exceptions to everything, but this is a commonality that many have observed, and the reasons for it seem clear as well... geocaching is generally not a committment to those groups... it is a brief experience.

 

The examples you mentioned... how old are they?

 

Absolutely, experienced cachers can have poorly maintained caches. Nobody is claiming otherwise. But that is not a pattern. It is an exception.

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Just 2 days ago, I was doing GCC9 and in the log book (small composition book), I three pages dedicated to one troop, that found out back in 2004. Most of the logs said it was their first cache. Its cool to see others being introduced to this.

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If I were the counselor, and the Scout completed all of the requirements to my satisfaction but used another site that openly allows membership just as this one does, I'd probably give him credit for it.
Around here, several park districts have geocaching policies that require caches be listed on the geocaching.com site. They do that not to promote the geocaching.com site, but because they want all geocaches on land they manage to go through the review process here. You're free to list geocaches on other sites with less thorough review processes, as long as you also list them here.

 

With that in mind, I think it would be fine to accept a listing on another site, as long as the cache otherwise met the requirements for being listed here. That way, the only change is the site the listing is published on. The requirements that are implicit in having a cache listed on the geocaching.com site are still met.

 

But it's been a long time since I've been involved with the BSA...

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The new Girl Scout caching badge has five steps, and each step has three options. 1. Learn about geocaching (go to event, have a speaker in, explore geocaching.com), 2. Learn about gps (the three options are all simple set up, take down, practice kind of things), 3. Make a peice of swag (something personal, something GS related, or a peice of jewelry), 4. Find a cache (either a themed cache, a hiking cache, or a multicache), 5. travel bug ( make bug with International goal, make bug with a GS related goal, or simply track a bug that has gone four places and see where it has been).

 

As an avid cacher and an avid GS adult, I don't think you'll be running across problem caches placed. You might see some interesting bits of childmade art as swag, but hopefully that won't offend to many people.

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Thanks LatonkaGal :) Our troop will definitely do swag & travel bugs, they are really into pen pals & crafts these days.

 

I decided to make some 'practice caches' for our upcoming hike. None are terribly fancy, I really only need them to last one weekend, and they will be labeled "practice cache". No two are the same size or shape, and all my hiding places are natural.

 

The first is going to be a gimme, there is a rock boulder with a natural hole that goes all the way through it, big enough for a man to put his arm in up to the shoulder and wave fingers out the other side. As I know children cannot resist such a temptation, that is where my first container will go. I'm not introducing GPS to this, just training them in the idea of looking carefully. All the points along our hike where we will look at specific features or rest will be where I put my caches. They will be numbered and have logs to sign, but no goodies. There will be s'mores at the end of the hike, that's treat enough ;)

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The first Girl Scout placed cache in Anchorage, Brownies are not for eating, is at least as good as the best Boy Scout placed cache and will most likely be around much longer. Kudos to Troop 496! (I have no affiliation, but I do like the park they chose that features a salmon stream, the custom decorated ammo can, the nice handmade swag, and the accurate coordinates.)

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The first Girl Scout placed cache in Anchorage, Brownies are not for eating, is at least as good as the best Boy Scout placed cache and will most likely be around much longer. Kudos to Troop 496! (I have no affiliation, but I do like the park they chose that features a salmon stream, the custom decorated ammo can, the nice handmade swag, and the accurate coordinates.)

 

I hope you are right. I put that cache on my watch list. Maintenance is the key... good luck!!

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My family has been geocaching off and on for over five years, more on in the last two.

 

My 11 year old started earning the Hi Tech Hide & Seek IP award last summer. She stretched herself to learn more, rather than relying on skills she already had. She started another travel bug when she placed her own cache. She is continuing to maintain it and will for the foreseeable future. The last activity element she had was to Share. An opportunity presented itself with our service unit hiking club. My daughter picked to place some "trainer" caches on the trail we would be walking, rather than having people try and find existing caches. We talked about type of hide and locations on our first trail walk. Next time she placed the containers and took readings. She then put together a booklet describing the sport, some basics for finding, how to use the gps, ..., and the coordinates for her placed caches.

 

There were adults with all the kids at the hike so the families shared one or two units (checked out from the local Girl Scout service center). After the general information and directions were given, we divided the large group into three smaller groups (~10). Each group had a plan on what order to look for the caches. In each group we sent an experienced geocacher; myself, my 11 year old, and my 8 year old. The "expert" guided the group and answered lots of questions. The adults were encouraged to look, but not "grab" the find. We made special trade items for the event and each kid could claim one from the cache.

 

The key elements were: hiding caches to demonstrate the skills you want to empart, hiding them far enough apart that another group doesn't see you finding, preparing the "hunters" ahead of time with knowledge, splitting into smaller groups (~5 girls), making sure a person with each group really knows what they are doing.

 

My 8 year old has by far earned the Junior Geocaching badge and more.

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