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The North Bend Eagle


 

Geocaching leads players on high-tech scavenger hunt

by Mary Le Arneal
Published 6/15/11

Pack 110 held its end-of-year pack meeting at the Kragh Johnson home southwest of Prague. With about 67 people in attendance, one of the activities of the evening was geocacheing.

North Bend Boy Scouts have done geocachingNorth Bend Boy Scouts Sam Wesely, Kendall Eveland and Alex Archer show one of the GPS devices used in geocaching.

Geocaching is a real-world outdoor scavenger hunting game using Global Positioning Satellite-enabled devices to locate hidden containers, called caches. It has been around since 2000 when 24 satellites around the globe improved the accuracy of GPS technology tenfold. Now, anyone could precisely pinpoint their location or that of anyone or anything else. This enabled some men in Seattle, Washington, to devise the game of Geocaching.

A the pack meeting, Johnson hid four different styles of geocaches, one for each den of scouts. For the youngest group, the Tiger Cubs, there was a traditional cache, an ammo can that could hold items to trade. The Wolf Scouts found a smaller cache, a bison tube (small metal cylinder about the size of your ring finger) that was in a plastic Easter egg in a bird’s nest. The Bear Cub Scouts hunted for a bison tube hidden in a ceder tree and the Webolos had a nano (size of the tip of your little finger) with a magnet on it stuck to a steel post. Boy Scouts that were in attendance helped the younger scouts.

An electronic GPS unit that can determine your location within 6 to 30 feet on the planet is used with geocaching. Coordinates are normally given in latitude and longitude. For instance the North Bend Eagle is at N 41° 31.227 W 96° 47.534.
There is a web site to join that gives coordinates for caches hidden by other geocaching players. They can be anything from a box with items inside to a microchip on the side of a larger object. The difficulty and terrain surrounding these geocaches are listed on the web site so players can pick and chose the style of hunting they want to do. The web site lists 4,601 caches within 100 miles of North Bend and 144 within 25 miles of North Bend. There are more than a million caches all over the world.

The Post family has hidden three caches in the area. They started doing it in 2009 and have done it locally and on vacation.

“It’s a fun family activity,” Jana Post said. “Other than the initial cost of the GPS device, it doesn’t cost anything.”

Post said on a Colorado vacation they enjoyed geocaching while on mountain trails and near rivers. Kragh Johnson and his family have been geocaching for five years, having read about the activity in the newspaper.

“It’s a lot of fun,” Louis Johnson, 10, said. “My favorite ones are on minimum maintenance roads.”

The Johnson family did one that took them to Smith Falls on the Niobrara River near Valentine. Louis said they had to climb over lots of things to find the cache. Often there is a log that one signs or initials when a cache is found. Some have a virtual log, where you have to e-mail answers to questions or send a picture of yourself by the cache in order to register.

“It’ll take you to places where you would never stop,” Kragh Johnson said. The Johnsons recently went to a World War II bombing target site near Pierce.

The Johnson family has a premium membership at Geocache.com and are alerted when new caches are posted, providing the opportunity and challenge to be the first one to find the cache.

Players start by joining the free geocaching web site, Geocache.com, and then downloading coordinates listed where caches are hidden. GPS device are used to follow these coordinates. The devise can be purchased at electronic or sporting goods stores or online. They start at around $80 and can get more expensive, but the basic one works just fine for geocaching. Some mobile phones are equipped with a GPS chip and can be used. Caches can be downloaded onto the GPS device and called up when the area is reached.

The GPS devices used at the pack meeting were borrowed from North Bend Central. In 2004 teachers Bob Feurer and Bev Grueber wrote a grant to the Fremont Area Community Foundation requesting funds to purchase 19 GPS devices. Feurer uses them in class when studying land forms. Grueber uses the speedometer part of it in classes.

Math instructor Teri Jelinick received a Great Plains Communications grant to purchase four GPS devices. She uses them in her trigonometry classes and in the MathCounts summer camp.

Second-year Webelo Trevor Nelson, 10, had fun trying to find the cache at the pack meeting.

“We were last ones to find ours,” Trevor said. “We had to go over a wire, down a field, over another wire and by a pond. It was pretty cool.”

When asked if he thought GPS was the trend of the future, he said, “It has been the future since 2000.”

He thinks he will be using it more in the future, driving places or “just going anywhere.”

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