By Mira Reverente
To commemorate its 50th anniversary, the Conejo Recreation and Park District (CRPD) has minted 300 limited edition commemorative coins hidden in geocaches throughout the Conejo Valley.
What exactly are geocaches? Think sturdy boxes or containers of all shapes and sizes. Think modern-day treasure hunt with a GPS or a smart phone.
“It’s very easy to start,” said Avery Akers, recreation coordinator at CRPD. “Just create a free account on geoacaching.com and then put your detective skills to work and navigate to the geocaches in your area.”
No skills are needed, said Akers, just a zest for adventures and an eye for “treasures.” Anyone from eight years old and up can do it. Families can make it a weekend adventure and even include friends and grandparents, if they are up to the task.
“It’s a great way to get everyone out there – hiking, walking, spending time with family and exploring the big outdoors,” said Akers, deftly navigating the trails on the Conejo Valley Botanical Garden and illustrating where geocaches may be hidden.
For the uninitiated, CRPD has introductory geocaching classes, geocaching using smart phones and even an geo-Easter egg hunt.
Coined by Matt Stum on the GPS Stash Hunt mailing list in 2000, geocaching has picked up in popularity. It is estimated that over 2 million geocaches are currently hidden all over the world.
In the Conejo Valley alone, Akers estimates that over 1,000 geocaches have been hidden, mostly along trails and in and around public parks or playgrounds. Most are not obvious, “camouflaged” or “disguised” as tree stumps or looking like they’re part of the scenery.
There are a few guidelines in geocaching, said Akers. “Hide them well in places that are safe but not very obvious – no climbing involved and not near poison oak, for example,” he said. “Sign the log inside the geocache and remember to replace what you take with something of equal or greater value.”
What do most geocachers typically leave inside a geocache? “It could be coins, toys, souvenirs or any small item,” said Akers.
Tara Saczynski has found marbles, shells, gems and various knick-knacks while out geocaching with her boyfriend. “He actually introduced me to it but I’m hooked now too,” said the Simi Valley resident.
When you get home, log on to geocaching.com to register your “find” or share your experience.
With spring break around the corner and summer break fast approaching, Akers guesses the interest in geocaching to pick up steam once again. “We expect more interest in the geocaching classes and a higher percentage of people outdoors trying out geocaching hopefully. It’s a great way to explore your local parks,” he said.
Click here for upcoming geocaching classes.