Meridian Parks Offers Geocaching Program

Meridian is creating an effort to get locals involved and interested in the activity, offering a program called “Discover Geo-Caching.”

The program is offered through the Harris Nature Center as an introduction for those interested in Geocaching.

The new form of recreation, called Geocaching, involves the use of a GPS, short for Global Positioning System, a device that determines location on the planet through a satellite system, to find items hid by other Geocaching participants.

When somebody initially hides a ‘cache,’ or the item container being sought, they record their coordinates in latitude and longitude into their GPS. They later upload these coordinates to geocaching.com, where they’re available to download for anybody. The interactive, online feature allows for others to see the scenery and caches left behind, as well as to log their own experiences geocaching and communicate with others who visited the cache.

The “Discover Geo-Caching” program is offered approximately two or three times a year, boasting attendance between 30 to a 100 people.

“The programs been pretty successful for beginners and people just getting their feet wet,” Kati Adams, a representative for the Harris Nature Center said when asked which people usually attend the events.

Caches often can contain a variety of items ranging from logbooks to left behind toys or books. The caches themselves can often come in a variety of forms including Virtual caches, which aren’t really containers of items, but rather coordinates of a location that is appreciable for either its scenery or some other reason.

There are caches left in the area by both members of the Meridian park services as well as regular participants in Geocaching.

“Our caches are a bit simpler than those caches online so people just getting into it can enjoy it,” Adams said.

The program has also gained attention from people wanting to bring large groups to experience Geocaching, such as Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts.

Other areas surrounding Meridian are not receiving the same positive response to the activity as the Harris Nature Center is.

Michigan State University had its own Geocaching club founded in the spring of 2006 by Michigan State alumnus Drew Trotter. The club enjoyed a short period of activity, where it would rent out the two GPS units it lent out to interested parties as well as creating its own cache called “Go Green! Go White!” However, according to the clubs current president Nathan Graham, due to a lack of involvement from people in the community, and Trotter graduating, the club has become defunct and the cache the club maintained has disappeared with it.

Geocaching is enjoyed throughout the state of Michigan, and the Michigan Geocaching Organization aims to help geocachers be aware of technology and respect nature while they play. The organization promotes community-based Geocaching events across Michigan, as well as holding its own meetings and events for people willing to attend them.

Those wanting to learn more about Geocaching can go to their national Web site at http://www.geocaching.com.  More information can also be found at the Harris Nature Center, which offers rentals of GPS units for $10 to people interested in trying Geocaching.  The Harris Nature Center will also be hosting a “Discover Geo-Caching” event next month on Saturday, May 17.

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