Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Geocaching Anyone?

What is Geocaching? Good question! During Southampton’s first Community Read, funded through a grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services, and sponsored by the MBLC, residents of Southampton found out exactly what geocaching is. The theme for our Community Read was “Sense of Place” and so we planned activities and programs that would help to develop a fuller sense of the place we call Southampton. Through Geocaching, Southampton residents explored a local park in search of “treasure”!

Geocaching is a high tech treasure hunt in your neighborhood, but instead of searching for an actual “X” on a map using a compass to guide you, you use latitude and longitude coordinates and a GPS receiver to find the prize. Geocachers look up coordinates to a location on the Internet, and use their GPS receiver to guide them to the treasure, or cache, hidden by another geocacher. A traditional cache might be a Tupperware container with a notebook and small prizes inside. Once you find the cache, you sign the logbook and may take something from the cache and leave something else in its place for the next “treasure hunter.”

The Edwards Public Library in Southampton hosted Brian White, a local expert Geocacher, who created a cache at Conant Memorial Park in Southampton, right across from the library. Residents and avid Geocachers turned out to hear Brian explain geocaching and then trekked out to the park with GPS units to locate the cache. Rules state that a cache cannot be buried, but it can be hidden underneath sticks or brush. The GPS coordinates will lead you close to the cache, but from there you will need to search for the actual location of the treasure. See for more about geocaches in your area.

Need a GPS receiver? The Edwards Public Library is the first public library in the state to have a GPS receiver for loan! You must come to the library to check it out and can use it for 2 days at a time to go on geocache adventures. Check it out! There are over 3000 geochaches in Massachusetts and nearly 400,000 worldwide.

Maybe the next time someone asks you, “What are you doing this weekend?”, you can tell them, “Using a multi-billion dollar satellite system to find Tupperware hidden in the woods!” Brian White says “Fantastic parks, hidden caves, historical locales, beautiful waterfalls – you’ll be exposed to it all through geocaching. And by spending time on the hunt with friends and family, you’ll probably end up finding a lot more to treasure than a simple geocache.”

~ Karen Kappenman, Director, Edwards Public Library, Southampton

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