GeoCaching Merit Badge

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Merit Badge Instructor to use teach - download and make any changes to fit your class - presentation is a teaching tool.

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GEOCAching

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Do the following: a. Explain to your counselor the most likely hazards you may encounter while participating in geocaching activities and what you should do to anticipate, help prevent, mitigate, and respond to these hazards. b. Discuss first aid and prevention for the types of injuries or illnesses that could occur while participating in geocaching activities, including cuts, scrapes, snakebite, insect stings, tick bites, exposure to poisonous plants, heat and cold reactions (sunburn, heatstroke, heat exhaustion, hypothermia), and dehydration. c. Discuss how to properly plan an activity that uses GPS, including using the buddy system, sharing your plan with others, and considering the weather, route, and proper attire.

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Your physical condition, The terrain you'll be covering, The weather conditions, Animals in area, a. Explain to your counselor the most likely hazards you may encounter while participating in geocaching activities and what you should do to anticipate, help prevent, mitigate, and respond to these hazards. 1.

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b. Discuss first aid and prevention for the types of injuries or illnesses that could occur while participating in geocaching activities, including cuts, scrapes, snakebite, insect stings, tick bites, exposure to poisonous plants, heat and cold reactions (sunburn, heatstroke, heat exhaustion, hypothermia), and dehydration. 1.

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c. Discuss how to properly plan an activity that uses GPS, including using the buddy system, sharing your plan with others, and considering the weather, route, and proper attire. 1.

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2. Discuss the following with your counselor: a. Why you should never bury a cache. b. How to use proper geocaching etiquette when hiding or seeking a cache, and how to properly hide, post, maintain, and dismantle a geocache c. The principles of Leave No Trace as they apply to geocaching

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a. Why you should never bury a cache. 2. You should never alter the environment when you hide a cache, nor should you place the cache in such a spot that seekers will have to affect the environment when they look for it. Never bury a geocache or place it in thick brush that others will have to clear. In urban environments, you should carefully consider placement of the cache. You don't want to put your cache in a place that could cause a panic. Geocachers must also consider safety in urban environments and should avoid areas like construction sites or other risky locations.

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b. How to use proper geocaching etiquette when hiding or seeking a cache, and how to properly hide, post, maintain, and dismantle a geocache Once you place the cache, it is your responsibility to maintain the cache and the area around it. You will need to return as often as you can to ensure that your cache is not impacting the area negatively, and to check that the container is in good shape. Does the area look disturbed? Are visitors disrupting the landscape in any way? If you eventually have concerns about the location, remove the container and make appropriate changes to your online listing. 2.

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You are ultimately responsible for the cache so make sure you know the rules for the area where your cache is being placed. Respect the area around your chosen location. Keep in mind that others will be walking in these areas. If it's the location of a wild animal nest, or if it is off-trail with delicate ground cover, too much activity may damage the very nature of why this area is cool. Do not place caches on archaeological or historical sites. In most cases these areas are highly sensitive to the extra traffic that would be caused by vehicles and humans. A cache hidden in full view of office or apartment building windows exposes a geocacher to being seen by someone who may think the cache search looks suspicious. c. The principles of Leave No Trace as they apply to geocaching 2.

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3. Explain the following terms used in geocaching : waypoint, log, cache, accuracy, difficulty and terrain ratings, attributes, trackable . Choose five additional terms to explain to your counselor. 3 .

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3 . Waypoint : 3. Explain the following terms used in geocaching : Log : A waypoint is a reference point in physical space used for purposes of navigation. The book in which this record is kept. Cache : A hiding place used for storing items.

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3 . 3. Explain the following terms used in geocaching : Accuracy : the condition or quality of being true, correct, or exact. Attributes : an object closely associated with or belonging to a specific person or thing Trackable : A path, route, or course

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3 . 3. Explain the following terms used in geocaching : difficulty and terrain ratings : The difficulty rating lets you know what the search is going to be like once you get to ground zero. The suggested search times are at best approximate, and reflect search times for a typical geocacher . easy - The container is in plain sight or is in an obvious hiding place, and is easily recognized as a geocache ; it requires only a few minutes searching. average - The container is in one of a few possible hiding places, or is camouflaged to blend well into the environment; it may require up to half an hour searching. challenging - The container is well hidden in one of several possible hiding places, or its camouflage could be mistaken for part of the environment; it will challenge an experienced geocacher and may require more than an hour searching. difficult - The container is very well hidden in one of many possible hiding places, or its camouflage appears to be part of the environment; it is a real challenge for an experienced geocacher and may require multiple days/trips to find. extreme - Finding the container is a serious mental/physical challenge that requires specialized knowledge, skills, or equipment. 1 of 4

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3 . 3. Explain the following terms used in geocaching : difficulty and terrain ratings : The terrain rating lets you know what the trip to the cache location is going to be like. wheelchair accessible - The path to the cache location should be paved, relatively flat, and short (less than ½ mile); someone sitting in a chair on the paved path should be able to reach the container. suitable for small children - The path to the cache location follows marked trails, and is less than 2 miles; there are no steep elevation changes or heavy overgrowth. not suitable for small children - The path to the cache location is suitable for most adults and older children, but may be longer than 2 miles, and may include some off-trail hiking, some overgrowth, or some steep elevation changes. experienced outdoor enthusiasts only - The path to the cache location probably includes off-trail hiking, and will include very heavy overgrowth, very steep elevation changes (requiring use of hands), or more than a 10 mile hike; an overnight stay may be required. requires specialized equipment - The path to the cache location requires specialized equipment (for example, SCUBA gear, rock-climbing gear, a boat, or a 4WD vehicle) and the skill to use it, or is otherwise extremely difficult. 2 of 4

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3 . 3. Explain the following terms used in geocaching : Choose five additional terms to explain to your counselor. 3 of 4

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Choose five additional terms to explain to your counselor. CITO 4 of 4 3 . Travel Bugs Geocoins Benchmark Virtual Cache

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4. Explain how the Global Positioning System (GPS) works. Then, using Scouting’s teaching EDGE, demonstrate the use of a GPS unit to your counselor. Include marking and editing a waypoint, changing field functions, and changing the coordinate system in the unit.

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Global Positioning System satellites transmit signals to equipment on the ground. GPS receivers passively receive satellite signals; they do not transmit. GPS receivers require an unobstructed view of the sky, so they are used only outdoors and they often do not perform well within forested areas or near tall buildings. GPS operations depend on a very accurate time reference, which is provided by atomic clocks at the U.S. Naval Observatory. Each GPS satellite has atomic clocks on board. Each GPS satellite transmits data that indicates its location and the current time. All GPS satellites synchronize operations so that these repeating signals are transmitted at the same instant. The signals, moving at the speed of light, arrive at a GPS receiver at slightly different times because some satellites are farther away than others. The distance to the GPS satellites can be determined by estimating the amount of time it takes for their signals to reach the receiver. When the receiver estimates the distance to at least four GPS satellites, it can calculate its position in three dimensions. 4.

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Determining Position A GPS receiver "knows" the location of the satellites, because that information is included in satellite transmissions. By estimating how far away a satellite is, the receiver also "knows" it is located somewhere on the surface of an imaginary sphere centered at the satellite. It then determines the sizes of several spheres, one for each satellite. The receiver is located where these spheres intersect. GPS Accuracy The accuracy of a position determined with GPS depends on the type of receiver. Most hand-held GPS units have about 10-20 meter accuracy. Other types of receivers use a method called Differential GPS (DGPS) to obtain much higher accuracy. DGPS requires an additional receiver fixed at a known location nearby. Observations made by the stationary receiver are used to correct positions recorded by the roving units, producing an accuracy greater than 1 meter. When the system was created, timing errors were inserted into GPS transmissions to limit the accuracy of non-military GPS receivers to about 100 meters. This part of GPS operations, called Selective Availability, was eliminated in May 2000. 4.

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What does EDGE mean? E xplain how it is done - Tell them D emonstrate the steps - Show them G uide learners as they practice - Watch them do it E nable them to succeed on their own - Use memory aids, practice it, they teach it Demonstrate the use of a GPS unit to your counselor 4.

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5. Do the following: Show you know how to use a map and compass and explain why this is important for geocaching . b. Explain the similarities and differences between GPS navigation and standard map reading skills and describe the benefits of each. c. Explain the UTM (Universal Transverse Mercator) system and how it differs from the latitude/longitude system used for public geocaches . d. Show how to plot a UTM waypoint on a map. Compare the accuracy to that found with a GPS unit. 5 .

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5 . Show you know how to use a map and compass and explain why this is important for geocaching .

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5 . b. Explain the similarities and differences between GPS navigation and standard map reading skills and describe the benefits of each.

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The Universal Transverse Mercator ( UTM ) coordinate system is a grid-based method of specifying locations on the surface of the Earth that is a practical application of a 2-dimensional Cartesian coordinate system. It is a horizontal position representation, i.e. it is used to identify locations on the earth independently of vertical position, but differs from the traditional method of latitude and longitude in several respects. 5 . c. Explain the UTM (Universal Transverse Mercator) system and how it differs from the latitude/longitude system used for public geocaches .

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5 . d. Show how to plot a UTM waypoint on a map. Compare the accuracy to that found with a GPS unit.

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6. Describe the four steps to finding your first cache to your counselor. Then mark and edit a waypoint.

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6. Enter the coordinates of the geocache into your GPS Device. Use your GPS device to assist you in finding the hidden geocache . Sign the logbook Return the geocache to its original location

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7. With your parent’s permission*, go to www.geocaching.com. Type in your zip code to locate public geocaches in your area. Share the posted information about three of those geocaches with your counselor. Then, pick one of the three and find the cache. *To fulfill this requirement, you will need to set up a free user account with www.geocaching.com. Ask your parent for permission and help before you do so.

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8. Do ONE of the following: If a Cache to Eagle® series exists in your council, visit at least three of the 12 locations in the series. Describe the projects that each cache you visit highlights, and explain how the Cache to Eagle® program helps share our Scouting service with the public. b. Create a Scouting-related Travel Bug® that promotes one of the values of Scouting. "Release" your Travel Bug into a public geocache and, with your parent’s permission, monitor its progress at www.geocaching.com for 30 days. Keep a log, and share this with your counselor at the end of the 30-day period. c. Set up and hide a public geocache , following the guidelines in the Geocaching merit badge pamphlet. Before doing so, share with your counselor a six-month maintenance plan for the geocache where you are personally responsible for the first three months. After setting up the geocache , with your parent’s permission, follow the logs online for 30 days and share them with your counselor. d. Explain what Cache In Trash Out (CITO) means, and describe how you have practiced CITO at public geocaches or at a CITO event. Then, either create CITO containers to leave at public caches, or host a CITO event for your unit or for the public.

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If a Cache to Eagle® series exists in your council, visit at least three of the 12 locations in the series. Describe the projects that each cache you visit highlights, and explain how the Cache to Eagle® program helps share our Scouting service with the public. 8.

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b. Create a Scouting-related Travel Bug® that promotes one of the values of Scouting. "Release" your Travel Bug into a public geocache and, with your parent’s permission, monitor its progress at www.geocaching.com for 30 days. Keep a log, and share this with your counselor at the end of the 30-day period. 8.

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c. Set up and hide a public geocache , following the guidelines in the Geocaching merit badge pamphlet. Before doing so, share with your counselor a six-month maintenance plan for the geocache where you are personally responsible for the first three months. After setting up the geocache , with your parent’s permission, follow the logs online for 30 days and share them with your counselor. 8. Label the outside . In today's world, suspicious packages can create alarm. Clearly labeling your container as a geocache and with contact information may help reduce the chances of your cache being reported as suspicious package.

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d. Explain what Cache In Trash Out (CITO) means, and describe how you have practiced CITO at public geocaches or at a CITO event. Then, either create CITO containers to leave at public caches, or host a CITO event for your unit or for the public. CITO on every hunt Cache In Trash Out doesn't just happen once a year. It can easily happen on every geocache adventure. Bring a trash bag along with you on your walks in the woods and pick up the occasional piece of trash you see on the trail. Even this small act can make a huge difference. CITO as a large one-day or weekend event You can organize a larger undertaking and accomplish much more with the help of other people. Contact a land manager or local organization and work with them to determine the needs of the community. These can be scheduled any time of the year that works for your location. Always be sure to seek permission before cleaning up any areas that may be on private property. 8.

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9. Plan a geohunt for a youth group such as your troop or a neighboring pack, at school, or your place of worship. Choose a theme, set up a course with at least four waypoints, teach the players how to use a GPS unit, and play the game. Tell your counselor about your experience, and share the materials you used and developed for this event.

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