Informative on geocaching


Complete the following steps as you plan and compose your essay. 1. Read two selections about geocaching. 2. Answer questions about the sources. 3. Plan and write your essay. Geocaching by Amanda Briney, Geography Guide for August 2, 2009 Geocaching is a worldwide outdoor hide-and-seek activity where participants use global positioning system (GPS) technology and latitude and longitude coordinates to locate containers, called geocaches or caches, that can be hidden anywhere in the world—from remote cliffs to along major highways. There are currently over 860,000 active geocaches located in over 100 countries on all continents, including Antarctica. The word geocaching itself is derived from the use of “geo” for geography and “caching” as the process of hiding a cache. Cache is 10 a term used in computer technology terms to mean the storage of information in a computer’s memory, but in hiking and camping the same term is applied to a hiding place for supplies. Thus when combined, geocaching means the use of geography, in this case GPS and maps, to find hidden containers. History of Geocaching Although similar to the older sports of letterboxing and orienteering in that it requires participants to navigate through unfamiliar terrain, geocaching is a relatively new activity. This is 20 because it uses GPS and satellites to navigate and prior to the year 2000, GPS receivers were not accurate enough to allow users to find small objects with a set of geographic coordinates. Before that year, selective availability, or the intentional disruption of satellite signals to GPS units causing errors of up to 328 feet (100 m), was in place for United States security purposes. On May 1, 2000 though, selective availability was turned off and almost immediately, the accuracy of personal GPS receivers increased. With the removal of selective availability and increased accuracy with GPS, small objects could be more easily located with a set of 30 geographic coordinates. On May 3, 2000, Dave Ulmer, a computer consultant from Oregon, hid a navigational target (a black bucket containing various prizes and a logbook) in the woods to test the new GPS accuracy. He posted the coordinates of his target which were, N 45° 17.460 and W 122°24.800, online and within three days, two different users found the target. NOTES Unit 4: Mixed Practice 117 © Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company Am I on Track? NOTES Actual Time Sp pe en nt t t t R R e e a a d d i i n n g g The first person to find Ulmer’s target was Mike Teague of Vancouver, Washington. Upon finding this target, he began looking up other newly placed targets around the world documenting them on his website. He then created a mailing list called “GPS Stash Hunt” 40 to inform other users of new targets and the activity quickly grew in popularity. Shortly thereafter, interested users began discussing different names for the activity because they believed “stash” could have a negative connotation and on May 30, 2000, Matt Stum suggested the name geocaching. “Geo,” he said could be used to describe the geographic and global nature of the activity, while cache’s meaning as a hiding place for items could be applied to the hiding of a target. In September 2000, geocaching became the official name for the activity and since then participation has grown worldwide. 118 © Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company ANCHOR TEXT Seattle Firm’s GPS Scavenger- Hunt Game Stirs Controversy by James Gunsalus, Bloomberg News November 14, 2006 Aaron McCain and his 9-year-old son rifled through a battered box containing rubber balls, napkin holders and plastic army men high on a pass near Mount Baker. Using a handheld Global Positioning System device, the two had hiked miles to Excelsior Pass to find the hidden loot as part of a global scavenger hunt run by Seattle-based Players post coordinates on the Web site telling where they have hidden objects and challenge others to find the “caches” using GPS devices. The adventure game, called “geocaching,” started six years ago in 10 the Pacific Northwest and now counts more than 328,000 caches in 222 countries, the Web site says. The activity pushes people outdoors, although some parkland managers say they worry about its impact on sites ranging from sensitive forestlands to historic cemeteries. is the brainchild of Jeremy Irish, 33, a computer- software programmer who went on GPS scavenger hunts as a hobby. He quit his job at, an online clothing store, to start the Web site in 2000. His company, Groundspeak, employs 12 and has 500,000 registered users. He charges $30 a year for membership access to detailed, 20 interactive maps that help gamers navigate rough terrain and rivers. The closely held company is profitable, though Irish said he isn’t getting rich. “I’m still living a meager lifestyle,” he said. “We put the money back into the company.” GPS devices only recently have gone mainstream. The satellite navigation system was developed by the U.S. Defense Department, with the first launch in 1978. The U.S. Air Force disrupted signals for civilian users until 2000. U.S. sales of the GPS units were $42.3 million last year, compared 30 with $16.7 million in 2002, according to the Boulder, Colo.-based  NOTES Am I on Track? Actual Time Spent Reading Outdoor Industry Association’s Web site. Unit 4: Mixed Practice 119 © Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company NOTES Geocaching has stirred some controversy, however. “If it’s done right, it’s actually a pretty good tool to introduce people to hiking and learning navigational skills,” said the U.S. Forest Service’s Gary Walker, lead climbing ranger on Mount St. Helens. “But I’ve also seen caches put on private property and people tromping all around looking for them.” The 242,000-acre Three Sisters Wilderness Area in Oregon banned geocaching in 2002. South Carolina has proposed fining people $100 for 40 placing caches without permission in cemeteries or at historic sites. “Land managers get nervous about people wandering around in wilderness and want to keep them on trails,” said Robert Speik, 78, a Bend, Ore., climbing instructor who fought a proposed ban in the nearby Badlands forest. “They lose sight of the fact that wilderness is where you wander.” McCain, a 32-year-old engineer who lives in Bellingham, said his family is responsible when hunting for caches. “Finding the actual cache was pretty low on the list of exciting things that day,” McCain said of his recent Excelsior Pass trip. “I got a 50 six-mile hike with my son, I saw the first colors of the fall and a peek at Mount Baker.” But geocaching bothers those who say satellites and computer screens interfere with the outdoors experience. The race to find caches sacrifices the slower pace needed to appreciate nature, said Scott Silver, director of Wild Wilderness, a nonprofit group in Bend. Custodians for public lands in the Pacific Northwest wrestle with how to accommodate both sides. The U.S. Bureau of Land Management proposed closing the 32,000- acre Badlands to geocachers in 2003, then yielded after enthusiasts 60 complained. Recreation manager Greg Currie says the bureau may revisit the issue. “It places a big demand on the land managers to police these things, and we don’t have staff or time for it.” Irish’s Web site encourages geocachers to “Cache In, Trash Out”— that is, collect litter on trails. Manuals that come with some GPS devices include such tips as respecting private property and staying on trails. 120 © Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company Am I on Track? NOTES Actual Time Sp pe en nt t t t R R e e a a d d i i n n g g 70 Irish said he isn’t worried about outdoor purists curbing the game’s growth. Every January he doubles his computer-storage capacity as people receive that new handheld Christmas present. “The idea of being a tech geek outside seemed like a good idea to me,” he said. “I don’t think I’m alone there.” Copyright © 2006 The Seattle Times Company


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