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 Saturday, 06 May 2006
News: Article in Edmonton Journal PDF Print E-mail
Written by Admin   
Tuesday, 28 March 2006

Another GeoCaching story in the news -- from the Satuday Mar.25th Edmonton Journal. Not a local story.

Geocaching catching on in family resorts
Educational treasure hunt teaches compass, GPS reading
Elaine Glusac
For CanWest News Service

TUCSON, Ariz. - Geocaching, the high-tech treasure hunt, isn't for you if you're bad with numbers. Consider this task: "Bear 250 degrees until reaching a saguaro cactus with no arms and a gila woodpecker hole 30 degrees off the trail." A 10-minute blitz tutorial in compass- and GPS-reading later, my son, our guide and I hit the Arizona trail.

"Mom, check this out!" yells six-year-old Seth, reaching around the base of the armless cactus for a Ziploc treasure packet planted there strictly for our discovery. "A rocket!"


Geocaching, the electronics-driven game in which planners hide trinkets and provide players with the Global Positioning System co-ordinates indicating their location, is hitting the resort scene, newly fashioned as a family activity.

From its infancy in 2000 when the U.S. Defense Department, which controls the global satellite navigation system, stopped scrambling satellite position signals, geocaching ("geo" for geography and "caching" for hiding goods) has had a worldwide following among electronics-savvy outdoor folk who post stash co-ordinates on the web and travel to find them.

For parents who want to hike and kids who want to play, resort-based geocaching is the ultimate crowd-pleaser. Throw in the educational element and it's the kind of constructive fun parents approve, with the gadget-appeal kids love.

"Geocaching is a great family sport because it gets everyone outside the house for some low-impact exercise outdoors," says Joel McNamara, author of Geocaching for Dummies.

At resorts, you can try geocaching without investing in your own equipment. Irish Mountain B&B on Georgian Bay in Ontario doesn't hide its own goodies, but loans out an electronic device for cachers to find stashes planted by area geocachers. Smugglers' Notch in Vermont plants booty up and down Morse Mountain in summer.

"It's a great opportunity to learn to use a compass and the GPS while we learn about the desert," said Mark Schurke, our guide at the new JW Marriott Starr Pass Resort & Spa in Tucson. With him, we learned not only to read the longitude and latitude figures on the GPS and navigate with a compass, but to identify barrel cactus (they always lean south), understand the water-seeking methods of the saguaros (shallow, far-reaching roots) and learn to play the nose flute, our last treasure in a collection that included insect pins, rubber lizards and the plastic rocket.

"I have no idea how this works," admitted the guide, attempting to honk on the flute. "But I can answer any questions about navigating the desert."

Elaine Glusac is a Chicago writer.


- Irish Mountain B&B, Ontario: 1-517-538-2803,

- JW Marriott Starr Pass, Arizona: 1-520-792-3500 or

- Salt Fork State Park Resort, Ohio: 1-740-439-2751,

- Smugglers' Notch, Vermont: 1-800-451-8752,

Ran with fact box "Places to Geocache", which has been appended to this story.



Last Updated ( Tuesday, 28 March 2006 )
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