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Geocaching Merit Badge

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Geocaching Merit Badge

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  1. Geocaching Merit Badge

  2. The Plan for Today What is Geocaching? Safety How to Find a Geocache Mapping: GPS, UTM, Compass How to Hide a Geocache Geocaching Terms CITO Leave no Trace Geocaching Game

  3. What is Geocaching? “Geocaching is a sport where you use a multi billion dollar satellite system to locate a rubbermaid containers in middle of the woods.” ~~ Anonymous

  4. What is Geocaching? • Nature meets Technology • GPS (Global Positioning Device) • Maps • Hidden Containers • Latitude/Longitude • Friends and Family Time • • Adventures • Slideshow: geocachinpictures.ppt

  5. History of Geocaching • GPS was developed by the US Dept of Defense • May 1st, 2000 the Government made these GPS signals available to the public • Removing “Selective Availability” • On May 3rd, Dave Ulmer hid a 5 gallon pail out in woods in Oregon • Called “The Great American Stash Hunt” • The first finder, Jeremy Irish, created to document geocaches • Today over 1 Million are hidden around the world

  6. Global Positioning System (GPS) • What does a GPS Do? • Tells you where to go • Tracks where you have been • Stores maps: topo, trails, street • Stores coordinates (waypoints, points of interest) • Communicates with Satellites out in space

  7. How does it work? • Three Segments • Space • 24-30 satellites orbit around the earth at an altitude of about 12,550 miles • Transmits position, orbit and location, and altitude • Control • Satellites are tracked by US Air Force Monitoring Stations scattered throughout the US. • Ground stations will send navigation updates to the satellites • User • GPS • Uses data from satellites to calculate user’s position, altitude and other data

  8. How does it work? • To sum it all up: • The GPS uses the time it receives the signal from the satellites to determine location and altitude • The GPS only needs to receive data from 4 satellites to determine location. The more received, the better the accuracy

  9. Interference and Accuracy • Interference: Factors that prevent GPS from receiving information from satellites • Weather • Buildings • Trees • Canyons • Takes longer for GPS to receive satellite signal • No GPS is 100% Accurate • Most GPS units will get you within 20 feet of a Geocache • Use “Geosense” when hunting for a cache

  10. How to use a GPS • Get to know your GPS before you head out • Where is the Enter button, move up or down, zoom in or out, find the menu, turn on backlight • How to switch between the map and the compass • Check battery levels • “Mark” a Waypoint • A waypoint is a location entered in your GPS • “Find” a waypoint (location) or point of interest • Edit/Change coordinates • The Compass • The arrow will not move until you begin to move

  11. GPSr Demonstration

  12. GPS Safety How to NOT get lost or run into barriers: • GPS “where to crow flies” • Always look at a map of area first to determine your best route • Obstacles: rivers, streams, swamps, cliffs • Always carry extra batteries • Mark your car or trailhead • Have map and compass

  13. Map and Compass • Why should you bring a Map and Compass with you? • GPS batteries go dead • Satellite signal is not good • Accidently enter in the wrong coordinates TIME FOR QUESTIONS….

  14. How to Determine Coordinates • The globe is comprised of vertical and horizontal lines called: Latitude and Longitude • Latitude (parallels) • Horizontal lines around the globe • North to South position between the poles • North Pole is 90 degrees north • South Pole is 90 degrees south • Longitude (meridians) • Vertical lines around the globe • East to West • 0 degrees = Prime Meridian and goes through Greenwich England.

  15. Latitude and Longitude

  16. Latitude and Longitude • Each degree is divided into 60 minutes • Each minute of latitude and longitude = 60 seconds • Format used for Coordinates: • Degrees, Minutes, Seconds • Coordinates at Baldy Mountain at Philmont are • N 360 37’ 45’’ W 1050 12’ 48’’ • and most GPS uses different format: Degrees and Decimal Minutes • Coordinates above would read: • N 36 37.750 W 105 12.800

  17. Universal Transverse Mercator (UTM) • Rectangular grid-based map overlay • Divides Earth into 60 zones • Each zone = 6 degrees of latitude • 20 Latitude bands, each 8 degrees high • Each band is lettered from C to X (no I or O) • Ends at 84o N Latitude • “Easting” – measured from central meridian • “Northing” – measured from the equator • Always read coordinates East and then North

  18. UTM

  19. UTM

  20. UTM Excercise Questions or Break…..

  21. Types of Geocaches • Traditional • Multi-Cache • Puzzle • Virtual • Earthcache • Event • Letterbox • Wherigo • Webcam • Benchmarking • Waymarking

  22. Geocache Sizes • Micro • Nano, film containers, magnetic key holder • Typically only a logbook • Small • Sandwich size lock-n-lock, decon containers, small peanut butter container • Can fit logbook, pencil and small trade items • Regular • Ammo can, large lock-n-lock, think “shoebox size” • Large • 5 gallon pail, big wooden box

  23. Terrain and Difficulty • Terrain Rating: 1-5 stars • Steep terrain, water, cliffs • Paved trail • 1 star would be wheelchair accessible • 5 star may require special equipment • Difficulty Rating: 1-5 stars • Nano up in a pine tree (5) • 50 gallon garbage can (1) • 1 star would be super easy, 5 star is evil

  24. Attributes What to expect at cache location Is parking available? Can you bring your dog? Do you need special equipment (boat, scuba gear) How long will it take? Is cache available at night? Kid Friendly? Stealth Required? Do I need to watch out for ticks or poisonous plants?

  25. Internet Safety Obtain parent permission and follow the rules Never give out your email, phone number or other personal information Never open e-mail or files if you don’t know who sent it Tell a parent if you see or receive anything that makes you feel uncomfortable Never agree to meet with anybody you meet online Don’t share passwords Don’t believe everything you read online Obey the laws

  26. Getting Started Step 1: Research Step 2: Safety Step 3: The Hunt Step 4: The Actual Find

  27. Step 1: Research • Sign up for free account on • Click “Hide and Seek a Cache”, enter a zip code • Select the Geocache you want to find • Pay attention to distance, difficulty, terrain, type and size • Enter coordinates in your GPS device • Look at map of area to determine your best approach • In the city, use a city map • In rural areas, use a topographic map

  28. Preparing to Geocache What to take with you GPS Extra batteries Cache page Water A buddy Trinkets to trade with Pen/Pencil Bug Spray CITO bag Sense of Adventure

  29. Step 2: Safety Bring a buddy Tell someone where you are going and when you expect to be back Carry a compass, whistle and first aid kit Dress for weather and terrain Be aware of your surroundings If it’s hunting season, wear blaze orange

  30. Step 3: The Hunt • Mark your car and/or trailhead • Stay on the trail • Watch your Footing • Use your GPS compass to lead you towards the cache • Slow down when you get to about 300 feet • Once you get to about 30 feet, start your search • Sometimes it helps to just put the GPS away and use your “geosense”

  31. Step 4: The Actual Find • Once you find it, write about it in logbook • Use your geocaching name (handle) and date • Take something, Leave something • Only take a trackable if you intend on moving it • Trackables are Geocoins, Travel Bugs and tracked on • Put Geocache back, better than how you found it • Many times, geocaches “move” or camo disappears • Make sure lid is on tight • Log it on and share your experience.

  32. Hazards • Poisonous plants • Sunburn • Heatstroke • Hypothermia • Woodticks • Mosquitoes • Holes in the ground • Uneven terrain • Disorientation

  33. Hiding a Geocache • Read the guidelines on • Many parks and cities have special rules • Same steps as finding: • Step 1: Research • Step 2: Safety • Step 3: The Hunt • Step 4: The Actual Find

  34. Step 1: Research • Where would be a good place to hide a Geocache? • Geocaches must be .10 miles (528 feet) away from others. • Think “Where would I like to FIND a Geocache?” • Hide Geocache where there will be minimal risk to the environment

  35. Step 2: Safety Geocaches must be safe to get to If on private property, obtain permission Geocaches are not allowed near railroads, bridges, school property or military bases

  36. Step 3: The Hunt Make sure coordinates are accurate Supply a hint Write “Geocache” on outside of container You want to be sure Geocachers can find your hide

  37. Step 4: The Actual Find • Be sure to use a watertight container • Lock N Locks • Ammo Cans • Decon containers • Do not use: “gladware”, they do not hold up to Minnesota winters • Put a “Cache Note” in the geocache • This can be printed off • Put logbook in a plastic baggie • Leave the pencil out, they tend to poke holes in the baggie • Load the cache up with swag • Do not put in food, fireworks, or other dangerous materials

  38. Submitting your Geocache • Go to • On “Hide and Seek” page, click on the Online Form • Complete all information on the form and Submit • Add Attributes • Volunteer reviewers will review your listing • If there are questions, they will email you • If no questions and all guidelines were followed, they will publish your new Geocache on • Wait for that first Geocacher to log the “FTF” (First to Find)

  39. Maintain it! • When you hide a Geocache, you are obligated to maintain it • Read the logs that geocachers will send you • They will let you know if your Geocache is “wet” or the logbook is full • If you get a few “DNF” logs (Did Not Find), you may want to check to see if the geocache has been “Muggled” (a non-geocacher may have found it and removed it) • When you visit the area, make sure environment around isn’t being damaged in anyway • If you can no longer maintain, you need to “archive” and remove the geocache

  40. Leave No Trace • Follow 7 Leave No Trace Principles • Plan Ahead and Prepare • Check weather, be safe, follow land policies, know how to use GPS • Travel and Cache on durable surfaces • Stay on the trail, avoid creating new “geotrails”, avoid sensitive areas • Dispose of Waste Properly • Cache in, Trash Out • Leave What you Find • “see it as it is, leave it as it was”

  41. Leave No Trace • Minimize Campfire Impacts • Typically doesn’t apply with Geocaching, but know area regulations • Respect Wildlife • Never leave food in a geocache • Dogs on a leash • Observe wildlife from a distance • Be Considerate of other Visitors • Yield to those on a trail • Avoid loud noises • Do not trespass

  42. CITO • Cache In Trash Out • Always carry a bag with you to pick up trash on your way out • CITO Event: Group of geocachers getting together to clean up a park or other geocaching friendly area • DIPO • Dog in Poop Out: make sure you clean up after the dogs

  43. Make CITO Containers

  44. Geocaching Game!!

  45. Geocachers Creed When placing or seeking geocaches, I will: Not endanger myself or others Observe all laws & rules of the area Respect property rights and seek permission where appropriate Avoid causing disruptions or public alarm Minimize my and others' impact on the environment Be considerate of others Protect the integrity of the game pieces

  46. Resources • • • • • References: • Geocaching Merit Badge Handbook • • • •

  47. Contact Information Melissa Portz, Assistant Scoutmaster Delano Troop 273 612-590-3453

  48. What to bring with to class GPS devices UTM mapping materials CITO stickers, containers and bags Presentation, binder stand, LCD, Laptop Geocaching Glossary and Handouts Geocaches, Travel Bugs, Geocoins, Pathtags