April 30, 2010

(VIDEO LINK) Geocaching is an adventure – a high-tech, modern-day scavenger hunt that folks in Rockcastle County hope will boost tourism and get people moving outdoors this spring.

The official Geocaching.com website says the basic idea is for participants to use GPS devices to locate containers hidden outdoors, called geocaches, and then share their experiences online. The experience is open to all ages with a goal of building a strong sense of community and support for the environment.

The Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service and the Rockcastle Quilt Trail Association in Rockcastle County coordinated a three-week geocaching adventure while redbuds bloomed at their peak. They placed 10 different geocaches at various locations throughout the county and then logged their coordinates.

“We featured 10 of our barn quilts, and our GPS numbers actually took people to those locations where the geocaches were within sight of one of those barn quilts,” said Hazel Jackson, extension agent for family and consumer sciences in Rockcastle County. “It’s one way of celebrating redbud month in this part of the state, and it’s a good time to just get out and see Kentucky when spring has arrived. It’s a great time to spend time with family and do those activities together.”

Jackson said participation was picking up and some people were really beginning to enjoy the hunt.

“It’s a great family activity, and it’s fun for the kids because they get prizes and you meet different people by doing this—and just the thrill of the hunt,” said Janetta Begley, after locating a geocache at the Hiatt Homeplace. “Actually getting outside and seeing the redbuds right now, that’s a big thing for me, and I am interested in quilts, the quilt blocks and actually making those.”

Begley was geocaching with her son Tristan, who said he wanted to find all 10 geocaches.

“What I like is that you get to explore new places; you get to look at all the features around every place you go to,” he said. “You can learn about stuff while you are doing it, and you learn how to use teamwork finding things.”

When someone finds a geocache, they sign a log book inside, and if there are multiple items, the geocacher writes down what he or she takes. In some cases, geocachers also leave items in the box for those who come behind them. Each geocache box in the Rockcastle event had a word or phrase, written on a piece of paper, taped under the lid. Geocachers who collected all 10 and put them in the correct order were entered into a drawing for a 2-feet-by-2 feet mini quilt block, restaurant gift certificates and a decorative, handmade broom.

Jackson said she hopes to make the geocaching adventure a regular event during redbud month each year.