Grab the Global Positioning System device of your choice and head to a Texas State Park to try to locate hidden “caches” of weatherproof containers in the latest Texas State Park Geocache Challenge. The family friendly challenge kicks off today at almost 90 state parks, historic sites and other TPWD properties.
Geocaching (pronounced GEE-oh-cash-ing) is attracting a growing legion of millions of modern-day scavenger hunters who comb the outdoors for locations of intentionally hidden film canisters or boxes containing a variety of items ranging from a logbook where you can sign your name to token trinkets. Participants use hand-held GPS gadgets, vehicle units and mobile phone apps on this high-tech treasure hunt to locate caches using GPS coordinates. Geocaching today attracts more than four million people to the great outdoors for fun, adventure and exercise.
“Besides being just plain fun, geocaching serves as a bridge to fitness, getting children out from behind their computers to explore the outdoors,” says Ky Harkey, Texas State Parks outdoor education Instructor, “It also builds self-esteem and confidence in youngsters and promotes problem-solving skills.”
To join in this fall’s Geocache Challenge, download a Texas Geocache Passport and cache coordinates, by visiting the Texas State Parks geocaching web site: (www.texasstateparks.org/geocache). You can locate nearby state parks, find the individual park’s cache coordinates, and let the adventure begin.
If you don’t know how to geocache, sign up for one of the upcoming, hands-on fall Geocaching 101 workshops, starting Oct. 13 at Mission Tejas State Park and Guadalupe River State Park. Park staff will provide a GPS unit and instructions on how to get started in what is a wonderful individual or family activity. To view a complete list of fall workshops, visit: http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us/calendar/geocaching. Instructional videos are also found at www.TexasStateParks.org/Geocache.
Starting at finding just 10 geocaches, participants will be able to collect special challenge “pathtags,” or coins, with the completion of each of five challenge levels. In addition, all completed and returned passports will receive a waterproof TPWD challenge sticker.
Children 12 and younger get in free to Texas state parks, but adults, who pay entry fees, should consider purchasing a Texas State Park Pass. For $70, the pass will get you, and all of the occupants of your vehicle, into every state park without having to pay an entrance fee.
The Texas State Park Pass can be purchased at most state parks or by calling the State Park Customer Service Center (512) 389-8900. Purchases made through the Customer Service Center will be charged an additional shipping and handling fee.
Logo courtesy Texas Parks and Wildlife