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Park Ranger wants to show campers joy of geocaching

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I am a park ranger and am in charge of educational/interpretive programs at our park campgrounds. More and more I am seeing folks bringing their tvs and nintendos into the campgrounds to entertain the kids. What a great opportunity to possibly get the family pysched up for a little bit of hi tech, good old fashioned game of hide n seek, little bit of scavenger hunt, a little bit of detective work, a tad bit of luck, and maybe even some exercise when they aren't looking.


Only problem is I've only got one (possibly two) GPS and compass to work with. I thought I would pre-hide two caches relatively close together. I'd like to invite the campers to the amphitheatre for a presentation of GPS (about 20 minutes worth - then, guide them thru the process of locating a cache, asking questions about waypoints, degrees, compass readings, as we go.


What do ya'll suggest is most important in the first 20 minutes of intro? I plan to give them a couple pages of hand-outs to take home - (again - suggestions appreciated - obviously - a sample cache site page, and main information page from www.geocaching.com), but are there any graphics that might good to share? Remember the most likely camper to attend will be the family oriented with kids in tow - so program's usually have to be on a 6th grade level... - would appreciate some tips, ideas, suggestions on what would make a good intro program for people who most likely have never heard of geocaching before.


I am no expert myself. I've only found 12 so far - and basically I've been the log writer, map printer and support Tracker for I. Will Ketchum who is in charge of entering coords & following all the bad guys as the crow flies. We never follow the trail... that's taking the easy way. And when you live in the mountains of SW VA that's often the difference between a hill, a ridge and a cliff -sigh. So if you folks have some great ideas on what makes a good beginner intro program - that will really put some spark back into these folks campfire - please let me know. Looking forward to hearing from you. TracksAll

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show 'em a sample cache.


take 'em to find a simple temporary presentation box, maybe with treat inside for everybody.


'splain the concept of "trade even or trade up"


turn 'em loose.


works for me.


it doesn't matter if you get to camp at one or at six. dinner is still at six.

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First let me say thank you for being so active. I remember a campground from my youth that had organized *family* activities. I wish I could find something similar for my kids.


For the presentation portion, Flask left out Cache In Trash Out. My kids (ages 7 and 9) enjoy picking up trash (even when I dont want them to icon_smile.gif as much as finding the cache.


This thread has a couple of suggestions for where you might be able to get more gps units.


For the hunt itself, I could see a two-level approach. Offer a traditional scavenger hunt for the beginners where they visit each waypoint and:


* record information from a nearby plaque/sign/trail marker.

* identify nearby plants/trees/animal tracks from pictures on a sheet you provide.

* get a coupon/tag from a cache container.


Each cache/waypoint would be fairly easy so *everyone* can try it out. The reward (in addition to the tour of the park) is provided when they return to the ranger station with their answers (give an extra point for Trashing Out). Something with the park name and/or logo would be great.


Once they are comfortable with the GPS, they can chose to go after caches that are in more difficult/remote parts of the park. Most people like to visit someone elses favorite spot, ask the other rangers for theirs.


Hope my two cents worth help somehow.

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First of all, I think this is a great idea. You might want to check out this Web site for some general information on GPS. It has several graphics and is written from an education perspective.


To help teach people how to use the GPS, you could divide them up into teams. One could go hide a "cache", mark the coordinates, then the next team would go find it. This might allow more people to use the GPS if you only have one or two for the whole group.


I also liked Windchill's idea of a multi-point cache. This could lead them on a trail through the park, while giving more people the opportunity to use the equipment.


Good luck to you. I hope you let us know how things go.




There are 10 kinds of people in this world - those who understand binary and those who don't.

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I think that it's an excellent idea. Lot's of good suggestions too! You might find a couple of local geocachers that might help you out by attending and offering some input, as well as providing you with a couple more GPSr's. icon_wink.gif


For your pre-cache class ... One thing you might want to do, is draw a couple of huge GPSr's on some posterboard, (Maybe a Garmin and a Magellan) to demonstrate what all the buttons are for.


You could use these in your classroom (amphitheatre) basic instructions. Then take 'em out to find some easy caches. I know it goes without saying that you'll stress the cache in - cache out theme as well.


I'm guessing you are a Ranger at Fairystone State Park . (Which BTW ... for you folks that haven't ever been there, you NEED to make the trip!) This is a beautiful park with some VERY unique stones.


If you ever get over to Hungry Mother State Park bring your GPSr with you, there are several caches located nearby!


I'd like to see the Rangers at Hungry Mother do the same thing. Especially since there are several caches already in place nearby. Do you know who I should contact at HMSP to make this suggestion, and offer to help in any way that I could?



ASA/MI Veteran ... Geocaching for Uncle Sam ... we just didn't realize it at the time!


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You seem to be very much on the right track, I wouldn't change a thing there.


On a technical note however, one thing that might rain on your parade is that GPS receivers will interfere with each other if they're operated too close together.


I've found that two receivers working within about 5 or so metres (australian!) of each other would *both* give inaccurate results. Do some testing ahead of time to see how your machines work together, and consider sending your budding cachers off in groups, in different directions (or whatever works to get them and their GPS receivers seperated).


hope this helps!

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I have to say, I've never experienced that problem... and I've conducted "newbie treks" for several months.


I realize this thread has gotten "old", but I thought I'd still put in my 2-cents worth.


I think its a fantastic idea! I know that the Big Sioux Recreation Area near Sioux Falls, SD, has done some experimenting with GPS in their park, so you might want to contact Becky Graff there. Also, please don't hesitate to post your needs on the gc.com forums, especially when it comes to asking geocachers to help out.


When I conduct newbie treks, we start with about 30 minutes of instruction about geocaching and then break up to help people get coords into the attendees GPSRs. Then we head out for the hunt. Depending on how many people you have in attendance, you might want to split the group up to hunt different caches (in one case, the organizer hid 3 short distance caches and three experienced geocachers led the groups in rotation to the caches). Its great fun.


Another example of geocaching in state parks is to log the location of interesting overlooks or features of the park, then produce a brochure with the coordinates and a suggested route to visit them. I believe thats what was done at Big Sioux Rec. That way, they accommodated geocachers without actually hiding traditional caches in the park.


Keep this thread alive! We need this kind of information for park rangers that are interested in the educational value of geocaching in the parks.






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Excellent idea. Be sure to cover the highlights of how the GPS works. Info about how signals are received from the satellites would interest the campers. I'm sure you'd work in the respect for nature and environment elements given your position. It might be interesting to some to learn of the differences in magnetic and true north; I'm always amazed to find so many people don't know there is a difference.


I've never been lost, but I was a might bewildered for three days once. Daniel Boone

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Originally posted by Jpjazz:

What is this true? A Park Ranger that is willing to promote Geocaching. Thank you for taking this inititive!




icon_wink.gif I am also a ranger that supports this sport. I found about geocaching because one was hidden in a park I patrol. I think it is a great way to get people to enjoy the outdoors and don't see the harm as long as common sense is used. Obviously don't damage any vegetation or official signs when plaching caches or markers. The trash out program is appreciated by park managers too. After dealing with obnoxiously loud campers, drunks, and vandals I not only welcome caching, but see it as positive recreation for park patrons.

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hey, we're everywhere...

here's another Park Ranger (Nevada), that encourages geocaching and getting out there! i also enjoy working with the local cachers so that caches are placed properly in our parks.

i think a multi cache, with groups helping to do each leg, will give everyone a chance to experience the hunt. (you may even make the final coords a little off so EVERYONE has to hunt the last one). here's to Rangers...


having to do what the voices in my GPSr tell me to do...

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I'm a park naturalist and I have been thinking about how to use geocaching in our parks as well. One of my ideas was to set up a multi-point hunt where at each cache site the next coordinates are found by identifying an adjacent tree (with key provided) and then changing the letters of the tree's name to numbers and adding to other numbers to get the coordinates. And so on.


I was a bit concerned when you talked about never using the trails but going as the crow flies. I do not think that this is the way to teach young folk how to geocache. Any skills they learn from you will be taken outside of your area to wherever they go. Here on Vancouver Island we encourage people to use the most environmentally friendly way possible to find a cache. That means that bushwacking to a cache is not the recommended way. There is usually a trail or road of some sort that will lead the hunter as close as possible to the cache before having to go off trail. In geocaching, the shortest distance between two points is not necessarily a straight line. As nature educators, we have the responsibility to teach good practices that are best for the environments we are charged to protect.


Now that I have stepped off my soap box...Good luck with this. Hope you will let us all know how it goes once you have tried this out a few times.

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Sorry to come in so late on this thread but I just stumbled across it.


As far as setting up geocaches in parks for educational programs and general public use, I worked with the ranger at Whitecliff Park in Crestwood (suburb of St. Louis) to create a permanent multicache to see different areas of the 90 acre park. I also made a phamplet with a satellite view of the WP's marked and clues to find them. The phamplet is available on the city's website as a PDF and is available at the recreation center in the park. This allows for groups such as Cub Scout dens and families to find the cache without a GPS. The final cache is a "take" only and a logbook, loaded with custom pencils and Crestwood geocache buttons.

Details are here.

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BOBO:Heeeey Yogi,The Ranger is doing something with that box and he has something in his hand..

YOGI:Well BoBo,we have never seen him do this before.

BOBO: Yea Yogi, he has maps too,he has been around here forever what does he need those maps for?Maybeeeeeee he is hiding something Yogi.

YOGI:Yea BOBO he is marking things down and putting little marks up and down the trails.

BOBO: Yea Yogi he is up to sumpin,lets watch him and see what he does.Look Yogi he is hiding the box in the stump over there,and he is taking a reading or something with that little gizmo he has been carrying aroud,What is it Yogi?

YOGI: BOBO that is called a GPS and Gives you exact coordinates,or your position on the Earth.

BOBO:WOW Yogi what are they going to think of next,All them people who use to get lost in our Hidden Woods can now learn how to get back out...........OH Yogi that means we cant raid their food at night when they get lost.

YOGI: BOBO we have to make room for technology in the Forest too and that is what Mister Ranger looks like he is doing. Maybe it will bring more people to the woods,more food get it..

BOBO: Yea YOGI MORE FOOD.But back to that box,I hope Mr. Ranger Put something in there for us...............

That Night They raid the Cache......

YOGI: Theres no food here?????????? just a bunch of MCToys that smell like hamburgers,OH BOBO that even makes me Hungrier.And trinkets and treasures,maybe we can take them to town an Hock em and get a BIG MAC.......

BOBO: Yea YOGI lets get some BIG MACS and a FILET o FISH












Arkansas Missouri Geocachers Association


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Wow! Completely forgot I had asked this. What great responses! Thanks. Now if I can just wake up Yogi and Boo Boo... Ranger TracksALL



It's a Bummer to have 200+ finds and a lousy Tadpole Label (2 Posts)! So I don't have much to say. Hurmph! My Avatar that I just put on tonight - "Caching Brings SERENITY" says it all! Arrrgh! (okay ...so the photo is a little on the small side and needed to be enlarged. I put the screaming brat in a cache and can't retake the photo. Oh well. I'm feeling very serene right now...can't you tell!)



Ah-ha...I sure showed them... Premium Membership has it's advantages...NO MORE TADPOLE LABEL FOR ME!!! The Mask of Justice has prevailed!

Edited by TracksAll & Will Ketchum
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Don't feel bad about 200 finds and only 2 posts. It means you are a geocacher not a forum poster.


Btw if you click "track this topic" at the top of the page you will get an email when someone posts to this topic.


I'm glad to see a ranger that has educated himself about geocaching and knows that we don't "bury"" our caches like some have the opinion. Sometimes you guys "rangers in general" not you personally, take a real bashing here in the forums. But as with everything else ther are bad and good examples.Thanx for posting all you RANGERS and letting us know there are some of you on our side.

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