Geocaching Merit Badge
Recently, I got the privilege of teaching the Geocaching Merit Badge to seven Boy Scouts at our Troop’s Annual Merit Badge Fair. We usually host a Merit Badge Fair (MBF) every spring with about 150 or so Scouts attending. This year was no different.
This was my 4th time to teach at the MBF but it was my first time to teach Geocaching at the MBF. Heck, it was my first time to EVER teach it. I tried Geocaching several years ago with a low end GPS unit and it was ok but not that great. Fast forward to today and with rise of the smartphone and apps it has become really easy and really fun. I have even got the family involved.
We spent the first part of the day doing the “book work” portion of the badge. They learned what GPS means and how GPS works. We discussed Geocaching etiquette and Leave No Trace. We also talked about using a map and compass and UTM (Universal Transverse Mercator) system. It was fun and then learned some new things.
in the afternoon we got in the car and went caching. I took the Scouts to an area that had several Geocaches located around an old abandoned park. All of the Geocaches were within walking distance from each other and all were in different containers. As a bonus, one of the caches was a Boy Scout related cache from the Council Centennial Camporee in 2009. it was located next to the property the campout was at and was cleverly disguised as a dove.
One of the requirements was to activate and release a new Travel Bug. A travel bug is a trackable tag that you attach to an item. This allows you to track your item on Geocaching.com. The item becomes a hitchhiker that is carried from cache to cache (or person to person) in the real world and you can follow its progress online. We got one from a fellow Scouter who was teaching a class and we walked through activating it. We attached a Scout coin with the Scout Oath on one side and the Law on the other. We put it in an ammo can and are waiting on someone to pick it up and move it.
It was a great time and they had a blast learning what may become a lifelong hobby. I had fun teaching the class and will likely teach it again next year.