Despite wet conditions and chilly temperature, Texas families gathered at Dinosaur Valley State Park in Somervell County for basic camping lessons last weekend.
The Texas Outdoor Family program, which was a two-day overnight adventure, taught families about nature, hiking, pitching tents, outdoor cooking and geocaching.
The latter was the greatest hit of the weekend. Replacing the usual video games in children’s hands with a global positioning system, or GPS, which allowed them to seek treasures throughout Dinosaur Valley.
“The simplest way to describe it is like a high-tech scavenger hunt,” said Robert Owen with Texas Parks and Wildlife.
Owen, who led the weekend with Rose Banzhaf, said geocaching is a much bigger activity than most people realize.
According to geocaching.com, “the basic idea is to locate hidden containers, called geocaches, outdoors and then share your experiences online.”
Families at Dinosaur Valley were equipped with GPS devices and given nine coordinates of geocaches hidden in the park, which ranged in size from small film canisters to larger ammunition boxes.
Inside the geocaches were small gifts left by previous finders, which may stay in the container or be replaced with new goodies.
“Texas Parks and Wildlife is looking at launching a geocaching in state parks,” Banzhaf said. “A series of questions (will be) in the area and you will have to be there to answer the questions.”
While geocaching is aimed at the younger generation, Banzhaf said it is not always cut and dry with them.
“One of the big challenges is getting the teenagers involved,” she said.
Geocaching.com approximates 899,909 active geocaches around the world, which can be found in almost any neighborhood.
For more information on geocaching, visit www.geocaching.com or www.tpwd.state.tx.us.