Hunting for treasure with a handheld GPS

Geocaching catching on

What do you get when you bring together treasure hunting, wireless devices, parks and the internet? How about 100 different reasons to get outdoors this summer?

BC Parks and the Geocaching Association of B.C. have placed 100 geocaches in parks around B.C., with prizes for those who find them first. A geocache is a hidden container found with the help of Global Positioning System (GPS) technology.

The search begins online, with geocaching websites providing coordinates that players can program into their GPS devices. Coordinates for the 100 geocaches will be posted online on June 26 (see Learn More for web addresses).

Each cache contains a stash of stickers, pins and other collectables, along with three specially-designed BC Parks 100 coins.

With the advent of smart phones and other mobile technologies, geocaching has become increasingly popular. According to the website geocaching.com, there are more than 1.4 million active geocaches in existence and approximately five million geocachers worldwide.

“People sometimes point to modern technologies as reasons for spending more time indoors. But geocaching does just the opposite. With this new initiative, we’re giving tech-savvy kids and families a new incentive to get out there and explore our spectacular natural surroundings,” said B.C. Environment Minister Terry Lake.

Quick Facts:

• Geocaching has  been encouraged in BC parks since 2008. It’s recognized as a low-impact, healthy activity that can be managed safely, even in protected areas.

• The basic guidelines for placing caches in BC parks include:

• The cache must be accessible from established trails orapproved travel routes.

• It must not disturb the natural environment, including soil.

• It cannot be left for more than three years.

• The special BC Parks 100 coin was produced at no cost to taxpayers. It was funded through a partnership with the B.C. Camping and RV Coalition.

• Parking fees were eliminated from B.C. parks to help make them more accessible and inviting to families.

• The province has also launched a $500,000 Community Legacy Program to fund improvements to parks across B.C. and a BC Parks Passport Program offering rewards for visiting parks this summer.

Learn More at:

• Learn more about geocaching – and get the coordinates for the 100 geocaches in B.C. parks at: www.bcgeo caching.com/