Dash for the Cache!

Dozens of DEN members were in search of a stash!  It was the First Annual West Coast DEN Dash for the Cache — as in geocache — and they learned and laughed and had quite a bash!

Okay, enough with the rhyming!  Simply put, geocaching is so much fun!  In case you have never heard of it, it is kind of like treasure The_host_with_the_mosthunting with GPS units.  I think a t-shirt I’ve seen says it best… Geocaching: Using multi-billion dollar satellites to find Tupperware in the woods!  And that is exactly what we did.  Dedicated DEN members from southern California drove for many hours to join us at the La Quinta Inn in Ripon where our instructor, Geocaching Master Burt Lo,  walked us through the ins and outs of geocaching.

 

Your_missionWe were given our mission, assured that with teamwork, it wouldn’t be impossible.  We had our requisite dose of caffeine and headed for the parking lot for some hands-on training.  Be advised, if you do decide to take up geocaching, the people that HIDE these caches are very, very sneaky!  They have even been known to hide their caches in fake sprinkler heads and electrical boxes.

Caching_with_coffeeThey_came_and_they_learnedCaching_couple 

 

I know what I’ll be requesting from Santa this year!  With handheld GPS units costing anywhere from $80 to $$$, if I save up for a while, geocaching can be fun for the whole family.  We had children as young as five years old participating in this.  If they could understand the concept of "You’re getting warmer, warmer… hot!" then they could geocache with the family without difficulty.  Our high school aged kids had fun too!  I like that it gets the family out of the house, hiking in the great outdoors, all focused on a common goal.

And_theyre_off_3Hey_look_at_this_1Caching_with_the_kids_1 

After our parking lot practice, we headed to Caswell State Park where our wilderness adventure began.  We ate a lot and laughed a lot and searched high and low for several hidden caches.

Its_waaaay_up_here Fun_food_and_familyGeocaching_rocksIt took us a couple of hours to find all of our caches before we went back to the conference room at the La Quinta Inn.  It was time to discuss the educational applications of geocaching in general. 

The way I see it, there are basically three schools of thought on the subject of geocaching in the classroom.  I’m aware that this is an oversimplification, but here goes: 1) If kids love it and it’s cool, I’ll make my standards fit it.  2)  I need to be convinced that the use of GPS units has its merits as an educational tool.  And finally, 3)  Simply put, "Will it raise test scores?"

For what it’s worth, I do have an opinion.  I think geocaching is cool, kids love it and I could easily integrate it as a tool toward teaching my standards.  I think the teaching of the use of the GPS unit and/or the activity of geocaching itself is educationally limited beyond the obvious latitude/longitude lessons.  BUT when used as a tool, it engages kids in the learning of other subjects and it is only limited by the creativity of the teacher.  Will it raise test scores?  Yes.  (That’s a bold statement, I know.)  Test scores go up when students learn and know the curriculum, right?  Students of all ages and abilities retain information more readily when they are actively participating in their learning.  By being engaged in learning, retaining the information, and raising those test scores, everyone will be happy!  I think that this may be one step toward making classroom learning fun again.  What are your thoughts on the subject?

An_official_cache_1Ad_for_garminSynchronize_your_satellites 

Comments

  1. Karen Seddon

    That sounds like so much fun, Susan! How can I bring that to Florida? We have tons of adventurers in North and South Florida!

  2. Caitie Staat

    Whoa Mom!
    Those were definitely exciting stashes in the dash for the cache! Up, down and all around, even climbing up TREES to reach them! You are so right, kids (yes, even high school students, like me) now LOVE GEOCACHING. Could so easily be integrated into my school’s curriculum, too! FUN! I’m thinkin’ I need to talk to my teachers…

  3. Scott Johnson

    I don’t know how you do it, Susan! This is another very memorable event that will be remembered for a long time. The fun, the friendship, and the knowledge are supreme! It was especially great to spend time with the folks from Southern California DEN and those that I hadn’t seen since Sea World.

    If I had to pick one bad thing from this experience is that I am now hooked on geocaching. I have even contemplated purchasing a motorcycle to ride while I go out and search for multiple caches in one day. Uh oh! I think I need a 12-step program! (Or a used Harley. Anyone selling one? HA!)

    I agree with Susan. There are many ways to use this within a classroom setting. Math, Geometry, Science, and even Language Arts. One of the 8th Grade Language Arts standards is writing technical documents. I could have my students write out the directions of how to use the GPS units as well as find and mark caches. But most of all, as Susan stated, having the students engaged in learning and having fun goes way beyond the realm of standards and facts. It motivates them and compels them to learn more. I’m sure we can all agree that motivation is half the battle, if not more.

    I also must give a huge thanks to Burt Lo! He did a phenomenal job setting up our caches and teaching us the ins and outs of the geocaching world. He got me so hooked that we were out until after midnight at the CLMS/CUE Tech Conference in Monterey looking for a cache so we could be the second to find (STF). Yes, there is a whole new list of acronyms to learn.

    After I returned to my class the Monday after this event, I described my experience and we took off to the park next to our school to find a cache that was hidden there. As soon as the next day, I received emails and phone calls from parents wanting to know how much GPS units cost, where they can buy them, and what kind do I recommend. They were thinking ahead for Christmas gifts because the kids wanted them (But I must say I think the parents wanted them, too). Very powerful stuff!

    Once again, the DEN and its teachers are having direct effects on students’ enthusiasm and success. Way to go all!

  4. Bev Matheson

    Thanks so much to you Susan and to Burt for putting on such a fun, exciting, and memorable event!The food, the instruction, and the hunt were all perfectly planned.
    I had heard about geocaching from my brother, but never really understood what it was until this event.It was nice to have my brother and his family join up with us at the park.Since he is a seasoned geo cacher, he is very happy I will now be able to keep an eye on his caches he has hidden down here in socal.
    It was a long road trip, coming from So. Cal., but that too was an adventure with my DEN brother and sisters and so worth it! From singing “99 bottles of ____ on the wall” to telling silly jokes…I just have to say I can’t wait for the next road trip!
    Anyway, thanks to Janitta, Susan, and Burt for the wonderful experience and hope to see you here in the spring! :>

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