Over the past year, as my wife was introducing me to Geocaching (she certainly knows what a man likes *grin*), an interesting development with Scouting and Geocaching was taking shape. It had been announced as early as 2009 that the BSA 100 year anniversary and for Geocaching’s 10 year anniversary would be a perfect pairing.
This relationship, dubbed “Get in the Game!,” was not without its glitches. In one discussion BSA was chided for partnering specifically with Groudspeak in the requirements instead of allowing scouts to use TerraCaching.com or Navicache.com. Someone pointed out, however, that Groundspeak’s Geocaching.com has clear and appropriate requirements for hiding, maintaining and finding caches that support the scouting experience.
Another problem was waiting for the actual merit badge to become available. As scouts were earning their badges mid-2010, when the requirements were first released, badges weren’t available for purchase until Mid-December.
I’m reminded of Russell in “Up”, holding out his GPS unit confidently and announcing they won’t ever be lost (before it’s accidentally chucked out the window). That GPSr is the map of the 21st century; it’s important for the youth today to learn both paper maps and compasses (in case something disrupts or weakens the GPS signal enough to make it inoperable/unreliable) along with GPS units, and this concept is perfect. As technology increases and more intelligent GPS units are made to increase their reliability and accuracy, older technology and the patents they were built upon are just now expiring and GPS units of that older technology becomes cost effective. To me, taking my kids out on Geocaching hunts isn’t just about the family bonding and treasure hunting, it’s about teaching my children about survival skills: treks across wilderness and talks about where to get shelter, food and water while we’re being hounded by freezing wind.
Although scouting is long associated with BSA, Girl Scouts have also been involved with Geocaching, and they’ve been active at it just as long as the boys. That makes sense as families have both boys and girls and it’s family volunteers that make up the backbone of both organizations.
Something that I discovered along the rabbit trails, that most geocachers would want to learn is that the Cascade Pacific Council of BSA has released a series of scouting caches, usually near boy scout camp grounds or state parks since geocaching often becomes part of the camping-out experience. That’s not all. Other Scout masters and enthusiasts have placed geocaches out there for our enjoyment, such as #1scout, roostersting, TKDScouter, paulie777 (aka “Steeves Memorial Scouts”), and Eagle Ranger just to name a few. Although not as popular, Girl Scouts have also put out a number of caches and have a merit badge for the sport, though it can also involve letterboxing.
If you happen to find a scout-themed geocache, consider this: 181 NASA astronauts were involved in Scouting, and over 30 percent of our armed forces were involved with Scouting. Give a little of yourself to these caches for the leaders of tomorrow. They’ll be looking out for you in the future, even if today they’re only looking out for geocaches.
Groudspeak YouTube video on Scouting and Geocaching
CPC Council BSA – Get in the Game! with Geocaching
TECUMSEH Council BSA – Geocaching Merit Badge Teaching Kit available
BSA – Geocaching (“Get In The Game!”)
Geocaching Merit Badge Wiki (Contains merit badge worksheets, requirements and resources)
Geocaching Ideas for Girl Scouts