Treasure hunting to connect with your community
Geocaching is like treasure hunting with a GPS device or smartphone. Why not use this fun and popular activity to offer a fun event that the community will enjoy, create a neighborhood clean-up with a twist, help them discover more about your community's religious landmarks, or share Bible quotations? In today's economic environment, who wouldn't want to have a great time at little cost?
There are millions of geocaches (that is, hidden containers, objects or unique land formations sought in the game) and more than 5 million players worldwide. Players sign up for free at the official geocaching.com website where they can search for a geocache and view its GPS coordinates. You will find many websites regarding the game, but geocaching.com is the only one with all rules and destinations.
View geocache types to understand all the built-in games from which to choose:
- Cache In Trash Out is a game that involves cleaning up litter.
- EarthCaches involve geocaches that include information about the destination’s unique geoscience features.
- Reverse Caches do not lead to hidden containers, but rather to land formations or interesting locations.
- Multi-Caches have a hint to find the second cache, the second cache has a hint to the third, and so on. Some caches may require using a tool, device or bigger item such as a canoe to access the next cache.
- Puzzle Caches are based more on clues than simple GPS coordinates.
- Event Caches lead you to a small community gathering.
- Mega-event Caches lead to events attended by at least 500 world travelers.
Once you’ve decided on an interesting game, just input the coordinates into your device, and the search is on! Many geocaches are creatively hidden, so even if you know the coordinates, the actual location is still a surprise.
When you find the geocache, sign the logbook and check out the geoswag (items that other players leave behind). Geoswag could be anything! Frequently, you will find toys, coins, buttons, magnets, jewelry, artistic creations and other inexpensive items. Why not try Christian music, Bible verses, life lesson posters and so forth? You can take something that “caches” your attention as long as you replace it with something of similar value.
CREATING A CACHE
Read the requirements on how to hide and list a geocache. The rules protect people from getting lost, wandering onto private property or breaking local laws. Once you know the guidelines, find a waterproof case and fill it with goodies.
Be aware of the rules. Each cache is typically approved through regional facilitators, and the rules say that cache listings that are perceived to be posted for religious, political, charitable or social agendas are not permitted.
Caches can be hidden just about anywhere – even at your church (just get permission from the pastor and board of trustees). The bigger the cache (in terms of trackable items and fun stuff), the more popular it will become. Perhaps you might ask congregation members to bring something to put in the cache.
HOW GEOCACHING CAN BRING PEOPLE TO YOUR CHURCH
Create an event cache, either at the church or in a local park. Create a theme for your event and pray for those whom God will bring. Invite those who seem interested to the church for food and fellowship.
Check out this Church Cache Series, a multi-cache game offering Bible verses as clues for stumped hunters. Consider creating a similar cache and include Bible verses about adventure or treasure in heaven.
Form search groups. Research shows that many retired persons get involved with this activity. However, there are no age limitations. It’s fun for the family, men’s, women’s and youth groups. Encourage your congregation to invite neighbors, friends and family to join search groups. Integrate prayer, Bible study and fellowship where appropriate. Obviously, respect those who may be uncomfortable with these practices.
Social, fun, cheap. Geocaching is sure to take you places you might never have gone. While out, make some connections (just beware of the muggles). The Rev. John Bunn, a retired pastor from the North Carolina Annual Conference, and his wife, Dorothy, are avid geocachers. “It’s becoming more and more popular,” Bunn said. “It’s a great way to reach out to others.” (Florida United Methodist News Service.)