It was Earth Day last week, which was the perfect reason to help Emma’s Brownie Unit get outside to learn a bit about geocaching and do some Spring trail cleaning.
(Ok. I don’t really need an actual reason to do anything related to geocaching or getting out on a trail. But hey – Earth Day? Spending time outside with Em and a bunch of her 7 – 8 year-old friends? If I actually needed a reason – those are really good ones.)
Getting ready for the Brownie Geo-adventure took a bit of pre-planning. A couple of weeks before our geo-date the Brownies handmade “hat crafts” to place in the geocaches.
Hat crafts are little pins that the girls attach to their camp hats. It’s a fun tradition for the kids to swap pins with new friends at camp or special guiding events.
I was given the crafts to place in four geocache containers. The first three containers were for the girls to find on the trail. The fourth container was for the girls to hide as an “official” geocache.
The day before the official Brownie gathering, Alex, Emma and I hit the trail to hide three geocache containers stuffed with hat crafts.
We chose the location a few weeks in advance because of a few important attributes. It is a pretty, forested area in the middle of a suburban neighbourhood. It’s within a reasonable distance to where most of the girls live, has good parking and is easy terrain for all fitness abilities within the Brownie Unit to handle. Whether you’re an experienced hiker or a once-in-awhile stroller, this trail offers a great opportunity to explore nature. In fact, while we were hiding the caches we kept hearing the knock-knock-knock-knock of a woodpecker.
But even more importantly, this trail offers many, excellent places to hide a geocache!
With our GPS set to go we hid the three containers, carefully saving the coordinates for each cache in our GPS. We spent a lot of time making sure the cache placements were not too easy or too difficult. We also took into consideration the safety of the hide location. And finally, to give Emma the thrill of the find with her friends, we made sure she had no idea where we hid one of the containers.
The plan was to separate the girls into three groups, with at least one leader armed with a GPS (pre-loaded each with the one set of the coordinates we recorded the day before) for each group. Each group would find one container. Once all the groups had made their find, we would convene at one location on the trail to hide the Unit’s official geocache.
|Searching for the geocache.|
With a few basic tips and hints, the girls were able to make quick work of finding the containers. It was awesome hearing the shouts of “Found it!!” from the girls as they made their discoveries!
It was a learning experience for all of us – from beginner to experienced geocachers. Some of the lessons included the fact that not all GPS units and phone apps are alike. We discovered that even in a suburban neighbourhood, satellite signals can get scrambled by a bunch of trees. And we found out that no matter how reliable your GPS has been in the past, it can completely die on you just as you head out on the trail.
In the true fashion of Girl Guides we also saw first hand that lending a helping hand and working as a team gets everybody to their intended destination and that geocaching treasure will be discovered!
The three containers planted for the girls in advance were collected as each was found. No trace remains of those hides in the forest. But finding treasure was only part of the evening activities and one final cache does remain just off of the trail. We hid the GGofC SWAPS cache for the entire geocaching community – and hopefully some other girl guide units – to find and celebrate the Girl Greatness that is guiding.
|The perfect spot for a Brownie Geocacehe hide. We dare you to find it!|
PS – While we were at it, we talked about the importance of keeping trails clean and did some CITO (Cache In, Trash Out). That’s a cool geocaching term for giving nature a bit of a hug by cleaning up the trail. Three big bags later, I’m pretty sure I heard the woodpecker tap out a thank you as we left the trail.