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Harker Heights Evening Star
Harker Heights Evening Star

Modern day treasure hunting takes over Heights

Modern day treasure hunting takes over Heights

Over 20 people showed up at Carl Levin Park on Thursday to learn about geocaching, which can be described as a modern-day treasure hunt.

Jasmine Scott and Sean Jones with the Texas Park and Wildlife Department out of Inks Lake taught the class, which was hosted by the Harker Heights Parks and Recreation Department GO Heights program.

“Think of it as modern-day treasure hunting,” said Scott, interpretative assistant.

In this modern-day treasure hunt, maps are replaced by GPS. While you can use your phone’s GPS unit, Scott advises against it.

“I like to use the units instead of my phone because the units do not cost as much as my phone and it doesn’t use data,” said Scott.

“I always recommend the standalone GPS receivers,” said Jones, lead interpreter. “You don’t need a plan for data; I could drop it and it would be ok. If I drop it in a lake it will be ok, or if it runs out of batteries I could just put new batteries in it.”

There are also limitations when using your phone such as poor connection or areas where you cannot receive the data you need due to no coverage.

“There are some limitations with using your phone. If you go out to lets say the Davis Mountains and you don’t have reception, you will get out there and go ‘um ok I guess I won’t be geocaching today’. So I just tell people to use stand alone receivers,” said Jones.

While geocaching seems like just a fun treasure hunt, the game does have rules for cache placement that need to be followed.

“The main rules of geocaching are that it cannot be buried and it cannot be on a moving object,” said Scott.

Typically the geocache will hold just a piece of paper for you to sign your name and leave a note for the next finder. However, some geocaches have items within them, which makes it a modern-day treasure hunt.

“The logbook is where you sign your name or your team name and date you found it. It’s usually etiquette to leave a little message as well,” said Jones. “If you are going to play the treasure hunting part of the game, which you don’t have to, but if you are the main thing to remember is ‘take something, leave something’. So plan ahead and have small things with you to replace what you take. It is kind of like a white elephant exchange, so plan ahead.”

Items left in the geocache also have rules that must be followed.

“Remember that if you take something to leave something. Another thing is you do not want to open it and find a stick or bubblegum wrapper, so likewise when you find this, you don’t go ‘awe what am I going to leave, let me just put this rock in there’. Also don’t expect valuable stuff. Don’t think you will find a pair of diamond earrings,” said Jones.

Geocaches aren’t just in parks; you can find them everywhere, all over the world, both in cities, parks and even in space.

“They are everywhere; there is even one on the space station. There are a lot underwater; they are everywhere on this planet,” said Scott.

“When I loaded the GPS units for today, I typed in Harker Heights and it was just covered,” said Jones.

According to the Geocaching.com website, Geocaching first came about in May of 2000 when Dave Ulmer, a computer consultant, wanted to test the accuracy of the new GPS technology by hiding a navigational target in the woods. He called the idea the “Great American GPS Stash Hunt” and posted it in an Internet GPS users’ group. The idea was simple: Hide a container out in the woods and note the coordinates with a GPS unit.

To learn the rest of the rules of Geocaching or to get started Geocaching and learn more visit geocaching.com

About

Bridget is a Mother to four and has been a Military Wife for 17 years. She is the author of the Dear Military Spouse - Ask Bridget column, a journalist, editor for Harker Heights Evening Star, and professional photographer. She is also the face behind Antics of a Nutty Hiker, and loves to spend her time out on the trails racking up miles.

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