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Shoreview Press

 
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GeoPierce
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PostPosted: Thu May 21, 2009 1:32 pm    Post subject: Shoreview Press Reply with quote

Geocaching: 'X' still marks the spot in popular family activity

http://presspubs.com/articles/2009/05/20/shoreview_press/news/doc4a12d3db4836d232446713.txt

by Kelly Jo McDonnell
Contributing Writer
Published: Tuesday, May 19, 2009 4:46 PM CDT
SHOREVIEW — As children, treasure hunting meant following a map to the “X” that marked the spot. But the rules of that game have evolved along with technology over the years.

Now Shoreview residents can become involved. The Shoreview Community Center is offering a class in geocaching, the high-tech version of hiding and seeking treasure, from 6 to 8 p.m. Monday, June 15. The city’s Recreation Director Becky Sola said people of all ages from all across the world seem to enjoy the sport, which involves locating hidden objects using Global Positioning System or GPS technology.

“It’s a rising trend,” she said. “We’re hoping we’ll get people in to check it out.”

The class is hands-on, explained Sola. She said participants will discover how to operate GPS units by toggling through pages and performing other functions. The class will then use such devices to navigate through the park to find hidden treasure. “Anyone under 16 years of age must attend the class with an adult,” Sola said. “But it’s really open to 8 years and up. It’s very family-friendly.”

Geocaching (pronounced geo-cashing) is a worldwide phenomenon. The word geocaching comes from the prefix geo-, meaning geography, and the suffix cache, as in the process of hiding a cache. The instructor of the class, Alex McKinney, said many enthusiasts don’t really know how the hobby got its start.

“It was started by the government in the 1950s after $10 billion was spent putting satellites in space for missile launches,” McKinney explained. “Eventually, private contractors thought they could use it (the satellite technology) and open it up for the public. Now it’s a worldwide hobby. It’s a treasure hunt with technology.”

The instructor said a sub-culture has surfaced with geocaching.

“People who are not familiar with geocaching are called ‘muggles,’” he laughed, referring to the Harry Potter books and their references to “muggles” being non-magic folk.

McKinney got started in the treasure hunting around four years ago. He is a full-time outdoor education/recreation specialist at the Three Rivers Park District. He said parks staff realized the sport was becoming very popular in Minnesota and that it’s a great way to introduce both kids and adults to nature.

He and a park team developed a curriculum, worked up the program, and then went out and practiced. He and a park team developed a curriculum, worked up the program, and then went out and practiced.

“Eventually we got a grant through a foundation,” he explained. “Now we teach it to around 500 to 800 people a year. It’s a reason to go out and explore and see the areas around you.”

How does it work? Basically, an explorer uses a GPS receiver that reads signals from at least three satellites at once to calculate a general location.

With signals from four satellites, a GPS receiver will get a more accurate fix that includes altitudes, exact time, longitude and latitude. Basically, the more satellite signals the receiver reads, the more accurate of a position it will report. The position is where another players has hidden a given object, or cache.

Sound easy? Accord-ing to online sources it can be deceptively easy, as there could be obstacles in the way such as trees, rivers or rocks. But the main theme of the game is to enjoy the great outdoors in the process.

Exploring the outdoors is no new thing for McKinney, who has a degree in recreational management, and went on to become a trail guide, which he said made him more “wild-erness-based.” It was a natural fit for him to start developing programs, he said.

“It’s a good way to expose people to our parks, especially with the movement to get kids back outside,” he said.

McKinney said he’s looking forward to teaching the class to interested Shoreview families. Currently, he is based at French Regional Park in Plymouth, Minn. but he said his coverage area has a broad span.

“Up north, we’re up in the Champlin area and we go down to Shakopee and Jordan. The majority of the funding comes from Hennepin County, but there’s pretty much 27,000 acres of park land in the west metro,” he said.

All that park land comes in handy for a hobby such as geocaching.

He said that the biggest reward for him is seeing youngsters experience the outdoors while learning something.

“Last time I was out, I took a group of 50 eighth graders,” he explained. “While we were out there, we saw a great horned owl, and deer running through the woods … things you notice when you’re looking for the cache. You find cool stuff when you’re down there.”

Usually included in any cache is a logbook which contains information from the cache owner, notes from visitors and sometimes valuable and entertaining information. Large caches sometimes contain valuable items, which turn the hobby into true treasure hunts. To obey the laws of the game and the land, however, it’s considered polite for players to leave something in return if they take something.

It’s recommended that items in a cache be individually packaged in a clear, zipped plastic bag to protect them from the elements.

McKinney said the sport seems to reach across age barriers. He said the average age is across the board.

“It’s pretty much people who like to go outside and enjoy searching for stuff,” he said. “I’ve seen families do it, I’ve seen teenagers do it, and there are adult geocaching clubs that do it too. It’s perfect for the whole family.”

For information on class registration, go to http://www.shoreviewmn.gov/Parks/RecPrograms.html

Geocaching class
When: 6 to 8 p.m. Monday June 15
Cost: $15; $10 Shoreview resident (Activity #370305-01)
Where: Shoreview Community Center (Register by June 8th)
Contact: http://www.shoreviewmn.gov/Parks/RecPrograms.html
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Pear Head
Past MnGCA President


Joined: 04 Apr 2004

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PostPosted: Thu May 21, 2009 1:37 pm    Post subject: Re: Shoreview Press Reply with quote

GeoPierce wrote:

“It was started by the government in the 1950s after $10 billion was spent putting satellites in space for missile launches,” McKinney explained.


Uh... The 1950's? How many dollars of today's money was $10 billion in the 50's?
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The Hipster
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Joined: 06 Oct 2008

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PostPosted: Thu May 21, 2009 2:01 pm    Post subject: Re: Shoreview Press Reply with quote

Pear Head wrote:
GeoPierce wrote:

“It was started by the government in the 1950s after $10 billion was spent putting satellites in space for missile launches,” McKinney explained.


Uh... The 1950's? How many dollars of today's money was $10 billion in the 50's?

If I just did the math correctly, then 10 billion would be approximately 71.43 billion, based on the Consumer Price Index.
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MrRogersNghbor
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PostPosted: Thu May 21, 2009 2:14 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Is it just me or does it come off like geocaching has been around since the 1950's in that article. I understand that they are giving background but it seems to difficult to tell the difference.
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Pear Head
Past MnGCA President


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PostPosted: Thu May 21, 2009 2:20 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

MrRogersNghbor wrote:
Is it just me or does it come off like geocaching has been around since the 1950's in that article. I understand that they are giving background but it seems to difficult to tell the difference.


I hadn't even picked up on that the first time around as I knew what they were actually referring to. Now that you point it out, it really does look like that.
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Draconisdax
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PostPosted: Thu May 21, 2009 2:36 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Pear Head wrote:
MrRogersNghbor wrote:
Is it just me or does it come off like geocaching has been around since the 1950's in that article. I understand that they are giving background but it seems to difficult to tell the difference.


I hadn't even picked up on that the first time around as I knew what they were actually referring to. Now that you point it out, it really does look like that.


So...those that started with the grande activity of Geocaching in the 1950's truly are "Oldtimers" (considering they would be later teens...or early 20's at the time...at the earliest)...

Wink Laughing Wink
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Grey Wolf and Wild Rice
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PostPosted: Thu May 21, 2009 9:22 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Laughing I better go put some additional log paper in my cache that's in their parking lot.
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