Geocaching, the ultimate scavenger hunt

David Pulaski geocacher

SUN PHOTO BY TOM CHANG David Pulaski demonstrates what he wears at night when he goes geocaching, a safety vest and a hard hat. One bystander mistook him for a construction worker, he said.

ENGLEWOOD — Visitors at the Englewood Sports Complex were treated to an introduction to geocaching, the scavenger hunt sensation popular all over the world. The workshop is part of Lemon Bay Fest — History with Zest.

Since its start in 2000, there now are almost 2 million geocaches and over 5 million active geocachers all over the world, according to geocaching.com.

Geocaching 101 was held at the indoor main facility at the complex and the room was filled to capacity with 23 in attendance.

Geocachers James Louisgnan and David Pulaski ran the workshop.

“They buried caches at various locations at the park with county approval and they have a map for the points of interest,” said Wendy Alridge, recreational program coordinator for Sarasota Parks and Recreation. “Their caches have been sitting there at least two years.”

Geocachers place small trackers and register them online. After registration, the person who places the tracker can leave a clue behind, pending moderator approval, so the search can begin. The geocachers use a global positioning system device to pinpoint the locations of the trackers.

Pulaski has been geocaching for 12 years.

“I had an old, clunky GPS,” he said. “I found there were 30 caches near me. After I found the first one, I kept going and I was hooked.”

While a GPS device can help locate the proximity of the tracker, geocachers still have to locate the item on their own whether they’re 5 or 10 feet away. Locations can be as inconspicuous as a fake rock at a park, a traffic light at an intersection or a window sill on a building.

“Sometimes people forget to check the rock itself when they look for it under the rock,” Louisgnan said.

When geocaching at night, Pulaski often gets confused for a construction worker when he wears a hard hat and a safety vest.

“Sometimes I get, ‘Man, you’re working late tonight,’” he said. “Sometimes you have the police involved because not everybody knows about it. When they arrive at the scene, some of them will have to look it up online before they let you go. Some will even wave as they pass by.”

To enhance visibility, night geocaches are sometimes visible with attached reflectors when people use their flashlights to locate them.

“It’s bad enough to try to search during the day, try it at night,” Pulaski said.    Those who stayed after the session went to a hunt in two separate groups.

“I thought it was very interesting and informative,” said Joan Stockamp, a Minnesota resident who has family in Punta Gorda. “I heard about this geocaching in Minnesota. I think it could be very addicting.”

People can register on the website for free, but can upgrade to a premium annual membership for $30. For more information on geocaching, go to http://www.geocaching.com.

SOME GEOCACHING ACRONYMS

• BYOP — Bring Your Own Pen/Pencil. An acronym often used by cache owners to communicate to other geocachers that you will need to bring your writing instrument in order to sign the cache logbook.

• DNF — An acronym used by geocachers to state that they did not find a cache. This is also a type of online log on Geocaching.com and is useful for alerting cache owners of potential issues. Cache owners who repeatedly receive “Did Not Find” logs should check to see that there cache has not been removed.

• FTF — First to Find. An acronym written by geocachers in physical cache logbooks or online when logging cache finds to denote being the first to find a new geocache.

• CITO — Cache In, Trash Out is an ongoing environmental initiative supported by the worldwide geocaching community. Since 2002, geocachers have been dedicated to cleaning up parks and other cachefriendly places around the world. Learn more at http://www.geocaching.com/ cito.

—Source: http://www.geocaching.com

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About Tom

Tom Chang is a freelance journalist with a background in multimedia journalism and web publishing. He is currently pursuing his Masters in Journalism and Media Studies from the University of South Florida St.Petersburg. He graduated in 2004 with a Bachelors Degree in Mass Communications at USF Tampa. Tom's interests include a little bit of everything from entertainment to sports. He also wishes to delve into creative writing writing sci-fi/fantasy stories. Tom was recently the Online Editor for USF St. Petersburg's the Crow's Nest, he joined the staff in January 2010 where he started freelance writing, photographing, copy editing and later became a staff writer. Tom’s freelance experience in journalism amassed a wide range of companies including Creative Loafing, The Focus Magazine, Lutz News, Examiner.com, and Tampa Tribune.
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