Today I went geocaching with John Kaup and his son, Richard. I’ve found that I enjoy geocaching with others more than just heading out on my own. I think that’s why I haven’t been very active lately – it’s been harder to coordinate times with friends who are interested. John and I were actually written up in the Greenville News for geocaching ‘way back in 2002 when the sport was just getting started.
Our trip almost didn’t happen. Apparently this is the weekend for GeoWoodstock VI out in California. The website was getting so many hits that it was hard to get through. I was afraid I wasn’t going to be able to download the caches I needed for this trip. However, I was able to get up early enough to download what I needed and get it uploaded to the GPS units.
I’ve started doing paperless geocaching when I’m on my own. I look up the caches on my Blackberry and upload everything to my Garmin eTrex ahead of time. Since we had a seven year old with us this time, I decided that it would be better to print out the caches we would seek. I selected several parks where there were multiple caches so that we could stay in one place and catch several of them. I decided upon Furman. I had two caches of my own there, and there were three others available on campus. I met John and Richard there, and we were of on our adventure.
Richard was already able to describe to me how a GPS works. I let him use my older Magellan 315. While not as accurate as my Garmin eTrex, the controls are super-simple to use, and he was able to select waypoints and follow with no problem.
While Richard seem to grasp the concepts of geocaching, the more subtle aspects eluded him. He tended to trust the technology blindly, thinking that the GPS’s direction arrow would lead him directly to the cache. We let him run on ahead. In one case we wound up walking a LONG way out of our way to get to the next location. All in all, we found four caches – two of mine and two new ones.
Geocaching is a hot topic at instructional technology conferences right now. As much as I enjoy it myself, I have a hard time figuring out how this might be used in a classroom. About the only way this would work would be to take your class to a location like Furman that has multiple caches. Otherwise it seems like you would have to drag your class all over town to find the caches. I guess you could set up a limited set of caches on a school campus that doesn’t actually go through geocaching.com. Regardless, there were lots of teachable moments with Richard today, and we enjoyed our adventure.
[tags]geocaching, GPS, cache, geocache[/tags]