Geocaching: Discover the World
Around You
By Jennifer Dudley and Priscilla Suarez

Questions about doing this program? 
Contact Jennifer Dudley

Introduction

The intentions of this program are to help you provide teens with a background on the popular sport of Geocaching, which is a modern hide-and-seek game savvy teens are sure to love. 

Geocaching is sporting activity that takes place outdoors and uses a Global Positioning System (GPS) receiver to hide and seek containers (called "geocaches") anywhere in the world. A common geocache is a small waterproof container containing a logbook. Larger containers can also contain items for swapping, normally toys or trinkets of nominal value. Geocaching is sometimes described as a "game of high-tech hide and seek.”  Activities similar to geocaching are benchmarking, trigpointing, orienteering, treasure-hunting, letterboxing, and waymarking.

Geocaching is similar to the 150-year-old game letterboxing, which is an outdoor hobby combining art, orienteering, and puzzle solving.  The activity was originally called gps stashing but in early 2000, the name was changed to geocaching. 

Books to Share

The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Geocaching by Jack W. Peters
Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives: An All-American Road Trip…with recipes by Guy Fieri and Ann Volkweia
Local Treasures: Geocaching Across America by Margot Anne Kelley
Paper Towns by John Green

Books to Show or Booktalk

4-H Guide to Digital Photography by Daniel Johnson
Geocaching for Dummies by Joel McNamera and K. Feltman
GPS: Global Positioning System by Jeanne Sturm
Roadfood: The Coast-to-Coast Guide to 500 of the Best Barbecue Joints, Lobster Shacks, Ice Cream Parlors, Highway Diners, and Much More by Michael Stern
Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants by Ann Brashares
Student Atlas of the World by National Geographic

Bulletin Board

Summer Journeys

Using an overhead projector, project an image of your neighborhood or city map onto white butcher paper and trace outline with a pencil.  Trace over outline with a black sharpie and place butcher paper onto bulletin board.  Staff can then place their vacation pictures and images of local roadside monuments, and local or national tourist attractions up on the bulletin board.  If an overhead projector isn't available, staff can freehand draw a map onto butcher paper.

Display

Travel Photo Albums

Visit a local museum and ask a historian to lend old travel photo albums; ask a local genealogy group to display their collections of old travel photo albums; or, you can also ask staff and patrons for their travel photo albums to put on display.

Set up a table and cover with a decorative table cloth.  Place photo albums and travel guides on the table.  You can also ask your local Chamber of Commerce for local maps you can set on the table for patrons to take for their geocaching adventures.

Decorations

Summertime is full of traveling adventures.  Ask your coworkers and patrons for copies of their vacation pictures, as well as for any old maps you may use.  Use the old maps to create photo frames and photo albums you can lay out throughout the library next to flyers promoting your event.

Refreshments 

Road Trip Snacks

The best thing about Geocaching is the road trip experience, and what is a road trip without munchies?  The thing about road trip snacks is there are no rules as to what you can bring along to snack on.  Some of the most popular refreshments include:  candy bars, chips, peanuts, trail mix, juice boxes, soft drinks, and water.

Display the snacks by placing them in an ice chest, just as you would for travel.  Be prepared with napkins, paper plates, and ice (to cool the beverages). 

Contests

Guess the Number of Map Pins

Display a map, either on the wall or a table, with thumb tacks displaying popular vacation destinations.  Explain to teens how these thumb tacks can serve as map pins, to display where they have been or plan to travel to.  Fill up a small fish bowl with thumb tacks and have teens estimate how many tacks are in the fish bowl.  Closest answer gets a prize.

Personalized Geocaching Containers

 

An old shampoo container decorated and with a lable that says Priscillas Cache

Provide teens with old containers (Pringles pop cans, peanut butter jars, etc) and have them decorate with tempera paint.  The most creative container wins a prize.

Incentives

Snack Pack

As a raffle or prize, prepare a goodie basket (or a goodie bag) with random goodies such as soft drinks, peanuts, chips and candy.

Songs and Audio Recordings

“Born to be Wild” on Easy Rider by Steppenwolf
“Drive My Car” on Rubber Soul by The Beatles
“Interstate Love Song” on Purple by Stone Temple Pilots
“I’ve Been Everywhere” on Unchained by Johnny Cash
“Slow Ride” on Fool for the City by Foghat

Crafts 

Log Books

A map of the world on a table with a hand-made log book labled Priscilla's Log Book laying on top of it

 

Materials

  • Composition books (available year round in dollar stores)
  • Decorative craft items

Directions

Have participants decorate inexpensive composition books using old magazines, construction paper, glue, glitter, paint, etc.  These books will serve as their personal log book / journal for keeping track of their Geocaching experiences.

Games and Activities

Dewey Decimal Scavenger Hunt

Explain to teens how the Dewey Decimal System works, giving them a brief outlook about the library system.  Separate teens into groups for a brief scavenger hunt, where they will be given coordinates (in this case, a Dewey Decimal number) which they will have to locate.  Before the scavenger hunt, the librarian or program coordinator should set out six coordinates around the library.  Each coordinate they find will provide them with coordinates for another location, in a sequential order, until the sixth and final coordinate is found.  The final coordinate will lead them to an envelope informing them that they are the winners.  Whoever finds the final coordinates first wins a prize.

Geocaching in the Library

Before the program:

Be sure to orient yourselves and your participants to the world of Geocaching.  A good guide is the Geocaching brochure here.   

Ask participants to bring with them their smart phones (and download a free GPS or geocaching tool from their phone’s market place) and/or GPS tools. 

Create an account with the Geocaching website.  Creating an account is free of charge, unless if you opt to become a premium member.  Once logged into your account, you can browse the site as you wish to become better acquainted with it. 

Learn more about how to go about hiding your first geocache at the following link: http://www.geocaching.com/about/hiding.aspx.  Once you are ready to create and log a geocache in or around your library using GPS coordinates, follow the instructions provided at www.geocaching.com by clicking on the “Play” link, and then on the “Hide & Seek a Cache” link. 

During the program: 

Have the teens search for the cache as a team.  Tell them to log onto www.geocaching.comto create their own accountsand find the specific cache you have hidden to get the coordinates and clues. When they have found the cache, they could go back to their accounts to log in their finds.

Web-Based Activities

BookCrossing.com - Catch and release books from all over the world at this online community.

Google Sight Seeing - Since most of us can’t afford to travel all over the world, this site provides us with visual images recommended by other Google earth users.

Where’s George - This is a fun website where anyone can log on to track where their money has come and gone.

Guest Speakers 

Local Geocachers to talk about their fun experiences or a member from the Chamber of Commerce to speak about free resources they can provide to travelers.

Web 2.0

Flash Earth - Use this site to find coordinates around the world.

Google Earth - Zoom in and out of locations worldwide. This website requires a download of Google Earth application.

The Official Global GPS Cache Hunt Site - Get started with your first treasure hunt by joining this online community through a free basic membership, and track where you can find your first cache.

Professional Resources

The Official Geocaching Brochure - Learn about the basic ins and outs of Geocaching with this easy to understand brochure.

Page last modified: February 2, 2012