The Kentucky Department of Parks hosted a Geocaching Weekend on March 24-25 with special geocaching activities at Lake Cumberland and Dale Hollow state resort parks.
Geocaching, a kind of high-tech treasure hunting, has become a popular hobby in the last few years. Geocachers use handheld Global Positioning Satellite (GPS) receivers to seek out treasures hidden by other participants. Participants find the latitude and longitude coordinates for these treasures, called geocaches or caches, on the Internet, mostly at Geocaching.com, which recently listed 232,177 active caches in 220 countries.
Many geocaches are multipart caches, where the initial coordinates only serve to lead participants to the vicinity of the first clue. The first clue then leads to others, and many clues are often needed before the final hiding place may be located. Atmospheric conditions and tree cover add to the challenge by decreasing the accuracy of GPS receivers. Also, many geocaches are very cleverly hidden. For these reasons, it's popular to hunt for caches with a team of hunters, sometimes with each having a GPS receiver.
Caches typically consist of a waterproof container discreetly placed within the environment. Size of the caches may vary from a film canister to about the size of a lunch box. The container includes a log book or small log sheet for successful hunters to log their find, and usually holds other items. Sometimes caches contain a disposable camera that the hunters may use to take a photo of themselves. The photos are posted on the Internet by the person who originally hid the cache. Geocachers who remove some of the treasure from the cache are expected to leave something in return, so the contents of the cache are constantly changing. For many, the search is as much fun as the discovery of the cache and its treasures.
The weekend activities at the parks included an Introduction to Geocaching program and guided hunts. Participants were encouraged to bring their own GPS units.
The cost of the Geocaching Weekend was $15 per individual or $25 per couple and included events at both parks, special caches and geocaching weekend shirts. The event was coordinated by Lisa Deavers (Lisa.Deavers@ky.gov) and Robert Myers (RobertA.Myers@ky.gov).
The Kentucky State Park System is composed of 52 state parks plus an interstate park shared with Virginia. The Department of Parks, an agency of the Commerce Cabinet, operates 17 resort parks with lodges -- more than any other state. Each year, Kentucky parks draw 7 million visitors and contribute $317 million to the economy. For more information on Kentucky parks, visit www.parks.ky.gov.
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