By Kristen Miller
DASSEL-COKATO, MN - The modern-day treasure hunt of geocaching is taking hold of adventurers of all ages, including Dassel-Cokato’s own fifth graders.
This past spring, roughly 20 students learned the sport of geocaching in which they used GPS technology to locate hidden treasures, or what is called a cache.
Geocaching is a worldwide game of hide and seek for a treasure, according to the web site, geocaching.com.
A geocacher can hide a cache anywhere in the world and determine its location by using a GPS or Global Positioning System.
The geocacher then shares the location and existence of the cache with other hunters who have a GPS and the Internet.
John Hoaglun of Kingston has been involved with the sport since January when his son asked if they could do it as a family.
Hoaglun looked into it and since they frequent state parks throughout the summer, he thought it would be a great family activity.
Since then, Hoaglun has found 20 to 30 caches around the state, he said.
“It’s surprising how many people are actually doing it, not just talking about it,” Hoaglun said of geocaching.
He took what he knew about geocaching and volunteered his time by facilitating an after-school enrichment program with fifth grade teacher Alisa Johnson.
The school had been looking into enrichment courses for its students to participate in, according to Johnson.
She became aware of the fourth grade Odyssey program participating in geocaching during their field trip to Fort Snelling. Then a parent of one of her students mentioned geocaching and recommended Hoaglun.
A cache is similar to a time capsule one would bury in their own backyard, Hoaglun explained. The only difference is it’s out in the open for people to find.
A cache can be any type of waterproof container and most times holds a log book and a small item. Hoaglun used little green Army men.
The idea is if a geocacher takes an item, the person then replaces it with another and records the item in the log book.
Using the web site, geocachers can find hidden caches in any location. For example, within a 10-mile radius of Dassel, there are 42 geocaches.
The students participated in four one-hour after-school classes, with Hoaglun, learning about geocaching, and then they took what they learned to Collinwood Park to find actual Internet-posted geocaches.
“It’s a pretty fun and low-cost activity,” Hoaglun said.
Hoaglun and his wife, Cristy, have three sons attending DC Schools Jacob, 10; Benjamin, 8; and Joseph, 6.