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Going Beyond Geocaching

In the latter half of last year, Cache Up NB was approached by the Moncton Nature Club to give a course on GPS use. They had got our name from the folks at Fundy National Park and were interested in having their members take a course on the basics of GPS use. Given that geocachers tend to know at least a little bit about GPS receivers and the technology behind them, me and Rev Slippery headed out to Irishtown Park to give the lowdown on GPS.

Turns out there was quite an interest as 30 people were there. Mostly senior citizens, we had an interesting time talking a bit about geocaching, and a lot about GPS technology. At the end of the session, we took everyone outside and got them to dial in a geocache or two into their GPS, and used them as navigation points to show them how to follow the GPS directions. We did the small loop trail around Tankville school and managed to get a lot of people up to speed on what their GPS was actually capable of.

Since then, me and Rev have done three more of these GPS courses with one more coming up this week. It seems that the interest in our little website community has gone beyond that of just geocaching. Which brings me to the topic at hand.

Although most of us are focused on the actual sport of geocaching, there are plenty of other side hobbies and learning points that tend to come out as a side affect of geocaching. Hiking is a good example of this. I had never done any serious hiking until I started wanting to get the caches on the Dobson Trail. Before long, I had taken several decent hikes. In some cases, the reverse is true. Hikers do long trails and learn of geocaching through other folks and find themselves taking up the sport as part of their regular hiking activities.

GPS technology is something else you tend to learn about. Everyone has a certain level of expertise about how their GPS works and what it can do. We’ve all learned about how the accuracy can shift depending on where you are. Whether it’s serious tree cover, or in the middle of a downtown region, accuracy shifts due to terrain. You may have even learned a thing or two about navigation using the map and compass on a GPS. Lastly, throw in all of the computer related skills required to get geocaches onto your GPS, run pocket queries, do filters in GSAK, load maps, and plenty of other technical aspects to this game that many don’t take into account.

How about we throw some environmental and wildlife knowledge into the mix. Many folks learn about the various birds, and other wildlife that are living in some of the forest regions of our area. Whether it’s spotting tracks on the ground, or bird watching, many of us have seen our fair share of wildlife in our ongoing search for that container. We’ve also exercised our share of litter removal through the CITO program. In fact, it seems within the last year or so, many geocachers have become less scared of removing old, rotting containers from the woods in an attempt to prevent the proliferation of geotrash and litter. Some geocachers go beyond that and are active participants of the Leave No Trace program which teaches folks how to enjoy the wilderness without impacting it.

As you start to look at it from a broader point of view, it becomes very clear that the participating in the hobby of geocaching goes far beyond just finding a container. Yes, we learn all of the ins and outs of the hobby itself, but in the process of doing it, we learn a whole lot more.

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