West Virginia Department of Commerce Geocaching – The Chase and the Challenge

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Geocaching – The Chase and the Challenge



Geocaching - The Chase and the Challenge

GeocachingBy Hoy Murphy

Childhood fantasies of following a pirate map and digging up hidden treasure have become reality for thousands of modern-day treasure hunters who have discovered the challenge of geocaching. The word refers to GEO for geography, and to CACHING, the process of hiding a “cache” a term normally used in hiking/camping as a hiding place for concealing and preserving provisions. Explorers of all ages are using this “hide and seek” game to test their skills at finding hidden boxes full of surprising items left by others, and at the same time use it as a reason to visit unfamiliar parts of the state.

Geocaching is a relatively new pursuit that came into popularity with the general availability of Global Positioning Systems (GPS). They can be stand-alone handheld devices or can be found on many smart phones and portable automobile navigation systems. Geocachers follow satellite-generated GPS signals to find hidden “caches,” which usually are containers containing trinkets, but can also be physical landmarks.

The fun comes from getting cache coordinates from the official Geocaching.com website or other sources, then using your skills to track down the exact point you’re looking for. It is estimated that there are more than one million caches in more than 100 countries, and that number grows daily.

 “It’s more fun searching in groups and working together to find the caches,” said Kimberly McHenry, who spent many weekends geocaching with a group of church youth in the Kanawha Valley during the summer. “Sometimes we’re running in all different directions trying to find the same spot, but it teaches teamwork and cooperation, and we all get a sense of accomplishment when we find the boxes.”

Shelby Boyd, a Nitro High School freshman, enjoyed chasing the caches with McHenry’s group.  “What I like about geocahing is that it makes you work your mind and think outside the box. It has different levels of challenge and works your brain. The most unusual thing I found in a geocache was a fake worm, bait for fishing.” 

Of course, there are rules that most players follow. Cache boxes usually have a log book for you to register your visit. “Swag,” or small treasurers, may be found in larger caches, and you can remove items if you replace them with something else.

West Virginia State Parks (see sidebar) and many communities have set up their own geocaching trails to encourage enthusiasts to explore areas they might not normally visit. Now, that has expanded to include nearly every part of the state as the West Virginia Department of Education and the Arts (WVDOE&A), in conjunction with the West Virginia Division of Tourism and the West Virginia Division of Culture and History, has created its “ExploreWV GeoChallenge.”

Statewide Geocaching Challenges 
The first official challenge of ExploreWV GeoChallenge was the “West Virginia Geocoin Challenge” that began in September, 2010...
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Fire up the GPS – Many Trails Lie Ahead
For 2011, The ExploreWV GeoChallenge will be taking players across the state in search of different kinds of treasures...
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Try it before you buy it 
Realizing that not everyone is willing to purchase the GPS equipment without trying it out first, the Department of Education and the Arts will be making geocaching kits available to the main public libraries in all 55 counties in the coming months...
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Treasures within treasures – Geocaching in West Virginia State Parks 
West Virginia State Parks have been playing the geocaching game for several years as a way of providing another fun thing to do outside and encouraging visitors to explore parts of the state they might not otherwise see.
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