CacheCrazy.Com: Looking back at ~ The Best Guest Blogs Ever - Beth from TheDunsilFamily - Scouts and Geocaching

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Looking back at ~ The Best Guest Blogs Ever - Beth from TheDunsilFamily - Scouts and Geocaching

The first time Beth from TheDunsilFamily wrote for CacheCrazy.Com was April 2, 2011. This brought many great comments and was just great work to read. Now she's back at it again and this time she is leading the way with a group of scouts who have never Geocached before. Join me in welcoming Beth back and enjoy her inspiring story of scouts, geocaching and how the two finally came together one day.

As Kevin (aka Bloodhounded) can surely tell you, another cache-loving leader (Percy) and I have been busting our asses trying to arrange a geocaching demonstration and hunt for our cub scout pack (Pack 193 based in Swoyersville, Holla!) for months.  Our first failed endeavor was a Venturing (a branch of scouting aimed at 14-21 year old boys and girls) weekend that the BSA (Boy Scouts of America) was holding at Camp Acahela the weekend of May 5th.  They had tons of really cool activities lined up, one of which was termed “GPS Games”.  That was their first mistake.  Those who are completely unfamiliar with geocaching would never associate this awesome and rewarding activity with a title like “GPS Games”!  Not one person who participated in the weekend’s events signed up for our portion of the festivities.  It was a monumental blow to my spirit, not to mention my ego.  How could these kids NOT see a treasure hunt as, at the very least, an exciting adventure?!?!  I think a lot of the problem was the wording of it.  I’m sure if they called it “geocaching”, at least some people would have been interested.

After picking up the pieces of my shattered heart, I got back up on the horse and soldiered on, working with my fellow leader, Percy, once again.  We were determined to get these kids interested in the sport we both love so much.  The two of us brainstormed ideas and tried to work out a feasible game plan for the boys.  Mind you, these kids range in age from 5 to 12, so we had to be sure that we could captivate them with the adventure of the hunt and the beauty of the outdoors, while keeping in mind that most of them have little legs and short attention spans.  After weeks of bouncing ideas off of each other and countless e-mails and phone calls back and forth, we finally settled upon Frances Slocum.  The park is close enough to where everyone lives, affords the opportunity to find multiple caches in one trip, and as an added bonus, I had already found all of what is hidden there.  It was the perfect location!  We ironed out the details with a den father (Matt) who was organizing the hiking part of the day, and I drew up a plan of attack based on the trails he chose.  We (boldly, I might add) decided upon Memorial Day weekend (the 29th specifically) as the big day (or “G-Day as I now refer to it).  As if interest wasn’t hard enough to capture, we had the unofficial start of summer to compete with.  With family BBQ’s and traveling, we had our work cut out for us.

I got the ball rolling with a brilliantly worded e-mail elaborating the wondrous adventure that was in store for those who decided to forgo the monotony of potato salad and burnt hot dogs in favor of joining us for the hunt.  As an added incentive, the park was holding a family scavenger hunt on the same day at 4:00.  Wouldn’t it be fun to do two treasure hunts in one day?!  We scheduled our hike for 1:00 to allow enough time to accomplish both.  It was like taking candy from a baby.  Who could refuse?  Despite my delusions of grandeur, I still had some doubts that we would have as profound a turnout as I thought was warranted.  But sure enough, within the week after I sent the e-mail, we had a surprising amount of parents responding that, despite the holiday weekend, they were indeed coming! 

After getting a rough idea of the number of people attending, I got to work, busily printing out all of the cache pages for the 5 caches we were going to attempt, a park map detailing where they were, and formulating what I was going to say in my explanation of the sport.  The day was getting closer, and I was 100% prepared.  This was going to go off like gangbusters!

Sunday had arrived and I packed up my manila envelope full of neatly stapled cache pages and maps, along with all my geo-gear, and headed off to the park.  For once in my life, I was early.  This was my shining moment.  I was going to rope these kids (and even some parents!) in with my exuberantly descriptive stories of how fun and exciting this was.  The places you will go!  The breathtaking scenery you will encounter!  The unexpectedly cool swag you can find!  They’ll never be the same again. 
We all met at the park office and followed Percy to where we would park to start our hike at around 1:20.  13 kids and 7 adults ended up making it.  After getting settled and together, Matt spelled out some safety rules and Percy elaborated the finer points of “Leave No Trace” to the group.  Then it was my turn.  Everyone was gathered around a small picnic table, eagerness glinting in their eyes.  I quickly explained what geocaching was exactly (most of the group had never heard of it) and gave them a few of the rules.  I had made sure to include a brief description of it in my previous e-mail, and asked them to bring some swag in case they found something they wanted to take from the cache.  Everyone had brought their own little bag of trade items!  After the formality of it all, we were off on our hike.  I was overflowing with anticipation of how they would react when they made their very first find.  THAT was what I was looking forward to the most.  The looks on their faces.  The pride in their voices.  I know that feeling all too well, and I positively could not wait to see it come to fruition on the faces of these boys. 

Our first cache, oddly enough, was “Frances Slocum Rocks”.  MY first find.  My previous blog post detailed the experience I had finding this cache, and it was only fitting that I introduced this to the scouts as THEIR first.  The trail from the parking area to GZ was short enough that they didn’t have to wait a terribly long time to get started.  I did this intentionally, so as to get them hooked from the beginning.  To make the longer hike ahead worth it, knowing what they were striving for.  Those who had GPS devices followed their coordinates, and the others just tagged along, waiting for instruction.  Once we got close, the boys took off with a start, scouring every inch of the small area where their GPS said the cache was located.  I stood there like a proud momma, tears welling up in my eyes, as these kids searched with fierce determination, for a mysterious box.  There were no video games, no TV, no cell phones… Just nature and adventure at its purest.  And they were actually ENJOYING themselves. 

After looking for about 20 minutes, these newbie cachers came up empty.  Percy and I tried to give them some easier clues to follow (after Percy had discovered the cache himself, since I had completely forgotten where it was after the year that had passed since I first found it) and they uncovered their first cache!  These boys, of varying size and age, descended upon the container like geo-vultures, crowding around and knocking each other over to find out what was inside this elusive tube.  I cracked it open and there was a hush in the crowd as they all waited to see its contents.  Their eyes were wide with wonder as I took everything out and showed it around.  There was nothing special in there… some pencils, small toys, and boy scout patches… but the boys all traded something and signed their names to the log like it was the Declaration of Independence.  I signed it “Scouts of Pack 193”. 

After replacing the cache, we continued hiking to the historic rock shelter for a small history lesson.  On the way, I could hear them excitedly discussing how cool it was to find the previous cache and how they were going to be doing this more often, now that they know what it’s all about.  I beamed with pride as I thought to myself, “Right there is exactly why I did this.”  I knew if they gave it a chance, they would love it.  As frustrating as it was trying to get people interested, it was all worth it to see the sense of accomplishment on those boys faces.  The absolute pure joy of hunting for, and finding what you set out to. 

In a time where kids find fun and happiness more often in Xbox games and Facebook than nature and sports, it was refreshing and rewarding for me to be able to give them this.  As a direct result of “G-Day”, most of the scouts and their families who were there, have started their very own accounts and have been actively geocaching.  My heart wells up with pride and I smile when I think that I had a little something to do with that.

Until next time, Cache On!


Kim@Snug Harbor said...

I have a cousin who is a scout leader and he takes his boys geocaching. I think it's a great idea for the scouts! Happy caching.

Dodger said...

Some of the best times I ever had were as a Boy Scout. Thanks for doing your part!

A fun place to bring the Scouts geocaching - the Francis E. Walter Dam.

See you on the trails, and thanks for the article!

BigAl said...

This was a tremendous article Beth and I love the fact that it worked out for all involved. I love to hear stories of folks taking kids out and getting them hooked on a sport that is fun, healthy, exciting, and friendly. When you think about what all of the kids do now days that keeps them inside it's great to be able to show them something that can get them outside and help them enjoy life in the outdoors. Thanks for being willing to do this with those kids. I'll be teaching a class again this next year to a group of Senior High students called "Educaching". I hope our turnout is just as good.

smithie23 said...

Great article! I was once a Boy Scout, and I've always thought of how awesome it would have been if geocaching was around back then. We did some wild and crazy stuff back then. Maybe I need to channel some of that craziness from my youth, and start hunting some 5/5 caches!

Also, a shout out to my pal Harold, aka BIG_DOG1970 for Frances Slocum Rocks! The guy places a lot of great caches around our parts!

Benizerith said...

Thanks guys! I appreciate the input. I finally just now got the chance to get online and look at my blog as I've been up at the scout camp (Camp Acahela) for week-long resident camp with the Scouts. I am going back tomorrow morning to finish off the week. (I really needed a shower and my bed!) Love the look of it, Kevin! Thanks so much!

James Cagney said...

The boy scouts have it just about identify on with their brief and lovely motto: Be Ready. There is no dilly-dallying around the point that we are in the center of a economic downturn, with the term 'credit crunch' being tossed around like a hot spud. Out-of-style Boy Scout shelters

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