The time has come to start heading out into the great outdoors (and earning Jaguar Spots).
Geo-caching is a way to get out and enjoy nature. Geo-cachers have a very good reputation in the community as preservers of nature. Usually Geo-cachers will ensure that nature is not harmed in the placing or hunting of a cache. It is very important that you keep this in mind when you go out on a hunt. Also, be sure not to litter anywhere or disturb the area.
It is very important that when you find a cache, that you put it back exactly as you found it. If it was covered with a fallen log, make sure its covered with the same log when you leave. Pay very special attention to the area of the cache before you remove the cache so that you can restore it to its original condition.
A bit about caches… They range in size. There is nano (about the size of 3 dimes stuck together – these are usually magnetic), micro (film canister or small pill bottle), small (1-cup size rubbermaid container), medium (1-quart container), and large (these can be as big as a 5-gallon bucket). Mine are all between the small and medium size… so far.
Usually when someone finds a cache (assuming its bigger than a micro), it will have trinkets in it. These can be things like a pack of crayons like you would get at a restaurant, business cards, rubber animals (the stretchy kind the dentist gives you when you have no cavities). If there is something in there you want, take it. If not, just sign your name (or team name if you have one) in the log. Here’s the catch… if you take something, you have to leave something in return. When my family starting caching, we went to the dollar store and bought a pack of play-dough and a package of cool-shaped erasers. We only use these when we go out with the kids. If I go out on my own, I usually TNLN (take nothing, leave nothing).
In the case of a micro, there is usually only room enough for a log. In that case, it will be a VERY narrow piece of paper rolled up as tight as you could imagine. The first time I found one of these, I had a pro-cacher with me, and I had to be told how to open it, because I was in complete disbelief that anything could fit inside something the size of a watch battery. I’ve since learned that geocachers are very clever.
So you’re super excited now, right? A bit more information to get you started… I highly recommend that you get a membership on geocaching.com. It’s free for a basic membership. The basic is really all you need… until you go hard core. Think up a clever name. Our family works as a team, so we have just one team name. It seems that most work that way. Be creative with your name. My family’s team name is Wet_Footprints.
After you have registered (or even before you do), check out the website. You can search for caches by area, cache name, cache number (that’s the easiest), or by the name of the person who hid it. You won’t be able to see coordinates online unless you register. I will give them to you, but the website will give you a map making it a lot easier.
When you get addicted to geocaching (and you will), you might find that a GPS unit is highly valuable. Even the kind attached to your windshield will usually do the trick (don’t worry if you don’t have one. A simple compass will work just fine). I have downloaded the Geocaching App to my iPhone. There is a free app available, but it will only let you find 3 caches. The full version is about $10 (and worth every penny if you love it). I don’t know if the other phone platforms offer this app. Please let me know if you find it so I can let everyone else know.
One last word of advice… non-geocachers (we call them muggles) don’t understand the sport. As a result, you might find that you get some strange looks as you stare at the base of a tree for 20 minutes trying to find something. To avoid this, try to find caches when no one else is around. If you’re in the middle of retrieving something, perhaps pretend that you lost an earring or dropped your keys. The last thing we want is for a muggle to go trying to find what you just found and then destroy it or steal it because they don’t understand what it is.
And for the information you’ve been waiting for.
I originally had four caches placed around Macomb County, but two of them have been muggled (stolen by someone who didn’t understand). I will give you the coordinates of the two that are still available. As I place more, I’ll let you know about those too.
To earn the spots (5 per cache), you must take your picture with the cache box and an adult member of your family. If you choose to also include friends from my class, they will not earn points for finding it until they take a picture with one of their family members. The point of this is to get YOU out with YOUR family. Then e-mail the picture to me, or print it and bring it in. If the picture is on your cell phone, bring it to me before 1st hour, since you’re not allowed to have your phone out of your locker after classes start (I don’t want you to get in trouble).
Name: First Quarter Extra Credit
Geocaching.com ID: GC35JZ1
Coordinates: N 42° 45.536 W 083° 01.017
Name: Second Quarter Extra Credit
Geocaching.com ID: GC35JYM
Coordinates: N 42° 41.194 W 82° 57.504
If you find that one of my caches is in shambles when you find it, or the log is wet and soggy, please let me know. That said, ALWAYS make sure to put the log back in its bag before closing up the container. These are all exposed to the snow in the winter and we don’t want them to get wet.
If you do get a geocaching.com membership, please log your finds on there and leave me a message about your experience.