Program

Now that you have an understanding of both Geocaching and Treasure Hiking we will cover to specifics on how to plan a program, plan a hike, and lead a hike.

 

Geocaching Account

To access the coordinates for caches you will need to create an account at www.geocaching.com.  A basic account does not cost anything and gives you access to all the features you will need to go Treasure Hiking.

Lets do that now. Here are the steps for setting up an account.

  1. Open a web browser
  2. Go to www.geocaching.com
  3. Click "Login" on the top right
  4. Click "Create a new account" in the middle
  5. Fill out all the information on this page
    • You may want to pick a username for the Pack
    • Something like Pack123Chicago
  6. Click the "Create My Account" button on the bottom
  7. Enter your location information
    • Note: you are not required to enter your physical address
  8. Click the "Update My Location Info" button on the bottom
  9. Enter any profile information
    • Note: you are not required to enter any of this information
  10. Click the "Save My Profile" button on the bottom
  11. Wait to receive an email from Geocaching.com
  12. Click on the validation link in the email you receive
  13. Click "Logon" on the top right
    • Use the username and password you created
  14. Congratulations ! You now have a Geocaching.com account

Premium Membership

Geocaching.com offers a premium membership for $30 per year.  The basic free account will provide all the information you need to Treasure Hike.  There are two features available to Premium Members that do make Treasure Hiking easier to plan.

  • Bookmarks - Being able to save interesting caches in a bookmark list.  Without this feature, you will have to write down Cache IDs on paper to remember them
  • Pocket Queries - This is an advanced searching feature that will allow you to narrow down interesting caches by such criteria as difficulty level and receive the cache information in an electronic file that you can immediately transfer to your GPS unit.

Create a Program

How you go about creating a Treasure Hiking program is directly dependant upon which method of Treasure Hiking you have selected.

To plan a program, please select the method you have choosen.

Method: Den

Creating a Program for a Den Treasure Hike is very easy to do.

  1. Find a GPS unit to use, if you do not already have one
  2. Select a public park as the location for the Treasure Hike
    • Go to www.geocaching.com
    • Type your zip code into the box in the upper right corner
    • Click the arrow to search
    • Click on the "Map It" icon in the upper right corner
    • Move around the map looking for a park in your area that has 5+ caches
      • Public parks are usually shown as green on the map
      • You can move the map by clicking on the map and holding the button down while moving the mouse.
      • You can also zoom in/out using the + and - icons on the left
  3. Pick a date for the Treasure Hike
    • Saturday mornings or weekday nights work well
  4. Communicate to your Den
    • Send out an email (or call) the members in your Den to let them know the plan
    • An example email can be found here
  5. Find a nearby cache and go on a "test run"
    • This will help you learn how to use the GPS unit
    • It will also give you your first experience finding a cache
  6. Go to the Plan a Hike section

Method: Entire Pack

Creating a Treasure Hiking Program for a Pack will require some planning.

  1. Find more than one GPS unit
  2. Select three (3) public park as locations for the Treasure Hikes
    • Go to www.geocaching.com
    • Type your zip code into the box in the upper right corner
    • Click the arrow to search
    • Click on the "Map It" icon in the upper right corner
    • Move around the map looking for a park in your area that has 5+ caches
      • Public parks are usually shown as green on the map
      • You can move the map by clicking on the map and holding the button down while moving the mouse.
      • You can also zoom in/out using the + and - icons on the left
  3. Find a Hike Leader for each Treasure Hike
  4. Pick dates for the Treasure Hike that work for the Hike Leaders
    • Saturday mornings or weekday nights work well
  5. Decide if you are going to hold a picnic in addition to the Treasure Hike
    • Depending upon the facilities you would like, this may effect your selection of parks for hike locations
    • If necessary, reserve facilities at the parks
    • Find someone to manage the picnic
    • Add a description of the picnic to the next section
  6. Communicate to your Pack
    • Fill out the Treasure Hiking Pack Program template
    • Post a notice on your website with the Pack Program as an attachment
    • Send an email to the Pack with the Pack Program as an attachment
    • An example email can be found here
  7. Organize a "test run" for the Hike Leaders
    • This will help learn how to use the GPS unit
    • It will also give them their first experience finding a cache
  8. Have the Hike Leaders go to the Plan a Hike section

Method: Pack Optional

Creating an optional Treasure Hiking Program for a Pack will require some planning, but not as much as for the entire Pack.

  1. Find more than one GPS unit
  2. Select three (3) public park as locations for the Treasure Hikes
    • Go to www.geocaching.com
    • Type your zip code into the box in the upper right corner
    • Click the arrow to search
    • Click on the "Map It" icon in the upper right corner
    • Move around the map looking for a park in your area that has 5+ caches
      • Public parks are usually shown as green on the map
      • You can move the map by clicking on the map and holding the button down while moving the mouse.
      • You can also zoom in/out using the + and - icons on the left
  3. Find a Hike Leader for each Treasure Hike
  4. Pick dates for the Treasure Hike that work for the Hike Leaders
    • Saturday mornings or weekday nights work well
  5. Communicate to your Pack
    • Fill out the Treasure Hiking Pack Program template
    • Post a notice on your website with the Pack Program as an attachment
    • Send an email to the Pack with the Pack Program as an attachment
    • An example email can be found here
  6. Organize a "test run" for the Hike Leaders
    • This will help learn how to use the GPS unit
    • It will also give them their first experience finding a cache
  7. Have the Hike Leaders go to the Plan a Hike section

Plan a Hike

By this time you are ready to starting planning an individual Treasure Hike.

You should have the following defined before proceeding.

  • Hike Leader(s)  with email address and cell phone number
  • Hike Location - public park
  • Hike Date & Time

If you have more than 15 attending, you need create hike groups.

  • Make sure you have a Hike Leader and GPS unit for each group
  • Print out the Hike Grouping Form
  • Using the form, groups the boys trying to keep Dens together
  • Stage the starting time of the groups 30 minutes apart
  • Include siblings in the same group for convenience of the parents
  • Remember to schedule groups with older boys to go first

Each Hiking Leader (hike group) should perform the following.

  1. Print out a Hike Record Form
    • Fill out the Hike Details section
  2. Select the Treasures you would like to look for
    • Write them down on the Hike Record Form
    • Refer to the section on Appropriate Caches to select Treasures
    • Go to www.geocaching.com
    • Type your zip code into the box in the upper right corner
    • Click the arrow to search
    • Click on the "Map It" icon in the upper right corner
    • Find the public park you will be hiking in
    • Search through the available caches, selecting at least 4 to find.
      • Print out each cache's detail page
      • Write the Cache ID on the Hike Record Form
      • Download the location file to transfer to your GPS unit
  3. Find a map of the park location, including trails
    • Your county's website will usually have these available
  4. Communicate with your group
    • Send out an email at least a week ahead of time
    • Provide detailed directions to the parking location
    • Include your cell phone number for "day of" contact
    • Include your hike group's specific start time
  5. Gather all the items on the Hike Day Checklist (see below)
  6. Communicate with your group again
    • Send out a reminder 2 days before the hike
  7. Get ready to have a great time !

Hike Day Checklist

Here is a list of items you should collect prior to going on your Treasure Hike.  This list should be reviewed the night before the hike and all items placed in a bag to make sure you don't forget anything in the morning.

  • Three (3) copies of park maps including trails marked on them
  • Electronics
    • GPS Unit
    • Cell phone
    • Camera
    • Small flashlight
    • Make sure all electronics are charged and have fresh batteries
  • Paperwork
  • Treasures
    • A printout of the details for each treasure you want to search for.  Make sure to include the coordinates, Additional Hints, and Decryption Key sections.
    • Coordinates fore each programed into your GPS unit
    • A tentative order for finding the treasures
  • A waist/backpack with the following
    • Bug spray
    • Sunscreen
    • Band aids of various sizes
    • Benadryl for bug bites
    • Two (2) ball point pens
    • Two (2) small zip-lock bags
    • One (1) large garbage bag
    • One (1) kitchen size garbage bag
    • A whistle
    • A pocket knife
  • Hiking boots or sneakers
  • Appropriate clothes for the climate
    • Wear layers when it is colder out
  • Water, water, and more water

Lead a Hike

You are finally at the exciting part, going on the Treasure Hike !  We bet you can't wait.

The following sequence of events will lead you through a successful event.

  1. Things to do the night before the hike
    • Gather all you "gear"
    • Make sure your GPS unit and cell phone are fully charged
    • Check the weather forecast
  2. Get to the hike location early !

The Night Before

The night before your hike , do the following.

  1. Check the weather forecast.
    • If the weather does not look good, will you cancel the event?
  2. Gather all your "gear" near the front door in a single bag
  3. Make sure your GPS unit is fully charged
  4. Make sure your cell phone is charged
  5. Get a good nights sleep dreaming about your Treasure Hike in the morning !

Gathering

Follow these steps once you get to the hike location.

  1. Get to the hike location early
  2. Turn on your GPS unit
    • Check if you can view Treasure locations and they are close by
    • Create a Waypoint on our GPS representing where you parked. 
    • Reset the tracking log on your GPS
  3. Great each family as they arrive
  4. Use the Treasure Hike Record Form to check each family
  5. Assign an adult to lead the boys on the service project
    • Provide the adult with the large trash bag
    • Boys pick up trash in parking area
    • When finished, have boys place full trash bag in trunk of a car

Once all the boys have arrived and the parking area has been cleaned up, get them together and call them to attention with the scout sign.  Run through the following in a fun manner.

  1. Ask if anyone has found Treasure before?
    • Give the boys a chance to tell a couple stories
    • Explain what you will be doing during the hike
  2. Ask if anyone knows what the buddy system is? Why is it important?
  3. Ask if anyone knows what Leave No Trace is?
  4. Ask if anyone knows the rules of hiking?
  5. Ask if everyone is ready to go Treasure Hiking?

Hiking

At this point, you are now on your way to look for your first Treasure.

As appropriate incorporate the following while you are hiking.

  • Rotate the GPS unit
    • Make sure each boy has an opportunity to hold the GPS and "guide" the hike
    • We have found that time based rotation works for the boys
    • You will need to periodically "ask" for the GPS unit to check progress
  • Nature
    • On each "leg" of your hike (i.e. between Treasures) find something in your surroundings to point out the boys
    • Gather all the boys and take a minute to let them ask questions
    • Also take this opportunity to reinforce the buddy system by doing a buddy check
    • Don't overdue this - If you stop every 10 feet to point something out, the boys will not continue to come back to you
  • Trash
    • If you see trash along the trail, get one of the boys to pick it up and place in the kitchen garbage bag you brought
    • Encourage this behavior in the boys by keeping count and announcing their count each time a boy participates
  • Drink water as needed
    • It is important to keep everyone hydrated
  • Keep track of where you are on the trail map
    • There may be cases when you will have to back track and try a different trail to reach the Treasure
  • Most Treasures will be close to a trail
    • Therefore, stay on the trail !
    • Only those with a higher Terrain Rating will require "bushwhacking"
  • Keep track of the boys
    • At the same time let them have fun

Nearing the Treasure

When you get to within 100 feet of the location, the fun really begins.  At this point the boys will be very excited.  Try as best you can to remind them of the Leave No Trace guidelines they have learned.

The golden rule in this phase is to follow your GPS unit until your "icon" is almost completely covering the cache icon on the GPS map.  Once that has occurred you should be within feet of the Treasure.  You should also have the map on your GPS unit zoomed in as much as possible.  A scale of 100 feet should be showing.

 Look around for:

  • Fallen trees, large logs, and tree stumps
  • "holes" in existing trees
  • Look up into the trees overhead
  • Have the boys look closely, carefully, and respectfully at all of the objects around them

 You will most likely need to leave the main trail to find the Treasure.  Here are some pointers.

  • Stay on the trail as long as possible
  • Minimize your impact to the environment
  • Go past the Treasure on the main trail first, then assess where to go "off trail"
  • A smaller trail may have been created by others visiting the Treasure, try and stick to those.
  • Have an adult lead the off trail hike and demonstrate by example for the boys
  • Watch our for poison ivy and pricker bushes !

If you are having a problem finding the Treasure, do the following:

  • Use the GPS to get back to where the unit thinks the Treasure
  • Stand in place for 1 minute to let the GPS signals "settle"
  • Check the accuracy reading on your GPS unit
  • 8 times out of 10 the GPS unit is right
  • Slowly turn in place taking in your surrounds
  • Start at ground level and then move to looking upward
  • That log in front of you may not look hollow, but it might just be !
  • Have each boy fan out and walk up to 20 feet looking around

 The race to find the Treasure can on occasion cause issues with the boys.

  • Reinforce that you are a team and the team all helped find the Treasure
  • Correct any actions by the boys on pushing or shoving
  • If a specific boys feelings are hurt, help him find it on the next Treasure
  • Congratulate ALL the boys on finding the Treasure

Treasure Found

Congratulations, you've found the Treasure !

Here are some suggestions on what to do next.

  1. Have a boy (rotate this) bring the Treasure container to a suitable place where all can see it that is not too far from its hiding spot
  2. Explain that the team is going to open the Treasure and look inside.  You may take an item out of the Treasure and look at it, you must also pass it along for other to look at and place it back in the container when you are done
  3. Have the boys try and open it first.  Assist as necessary
  4. Ask the boys lots of leading questions
    • Who do you think put this here?
    • Who put all the items in the container?
    • Was that difficult to find?
    • What did we learn?  (Follow the GPS for the adults !)
    • Note any special items and explain them to the boys
  5. Sign the logbook
    • If the ziplock bag that contains the logbook has holes, replace it

 Once the boys have had their fill of looking at the Treasure it is time to put it back.

  1. Make sure all the items are back in the container
  2. Make sure the container is sealed properly
  3. Have a boy (rotate this) put the Treasure back where it was found
  4. Make sure the Treasure is hidden as it was originally

Go back to the Hiking section and the hunt for your next Treasure !

Wrap It Up

You've been hiking for some time now and hopefully have found a few Treasures along the way.  The Hike back is a great time to talk about what you have learned.  This can also be done in a gathering back at the parking lot before everyone leaves.

 Ask the boys

  • What wildlife did you see?
  • Did you notice any new plants?
  • What did you like about Treasure Hiking?
  • What was your favorite Treasure?
  • Would you like to do Treasure Hiking again?
  • Did we follow the Leave No Trace guidelines?
  • Did we complete our Service Project?

Remind the parents that the boys have an activity to complete at home

  • Draw a poster of what the boy learned about Leave No Trace guidlines and bring it to the next Pack meeting for display

 

At Home

Soon after you Treasure Hike has completed, you should do the following.

  1. Throw out the trash you collected
    1. Leaving this in your trunk is not a good idea, although you will notice it quickly
  2. Log your Treasures
    • Go to the www.geocaching.com website
    • Go to each Treasure page and "log your visit" in the upper right
    • You should do this for all Treasures you tried to find, if you found them or not
    • Share some of the details in your message
  3. Complete the Treasure Hiking Record Form
    • Make sure a copy gets to the leaders who are processing awards
  4. Get the boys to share their experience at the next Den or Pack meeting 
  5. Start planning your next Treasure Hike !
    • Think about what worked this time
    • Think about what you might like to change