The 10th Annual Celebrating Irving: The City and The Man kicked off with a geocaching event that began at the National Scouting Museum on Monday evening, April 3.
Members of Boy Scout Troop 773 were available to help participants who were not familiar with geocaching and the modern technology it requires. The first 100 attendees received purple bags with American author Washington Irving’s image printed on them which contained items such as Washington Irving pins.
Geocaching is a sport consisting of using global positioning satellite receivers to locate hidden containers using different coordinates given on geocaching.com. Hidden containers were placed throughout the Heritage District of Irving by one of the organizations who put the event together.
“We found out that the Boys Scouts actually have a badge they can earn for geocaching,” Mary Higbie, chairman of The City and The Man said. “It seemed to be natural that we would find some Boy Scouts to help us. They actually had taken the initiative to do the work for the development of the cache boxes and the placement of them, since they are familiar with how to do that.”
Without knowing anything about geocaching, Higbie and the committee took a chance on the sport. It has been a successful part of their program since 2007.
“We come up with new and different things to focus on,” Higbie said. “We asked for different ideas. We had done different types of events other years but wanted something new. Somebody mentioned geocaching. We had never done that before, but we decided to be brave, take the plunge and try to find out more about it, and do it.”
Kendrick Perry, Assistant Scout Master for troop 773, demonstrated using a GPS while geocaching.
“My family started geocaching a few years ago,” Perry said. “We were talking about nature preserves where GPS could be used to find things that were hidden. It sounded interesting, so I got online and looked up more information about it.
“Getting out and seeing different places are the best things about it. The challenge of finding caches is also fun. The GPS might take you to a certain location and then you might spend hours trying to find the cache, but that’s the thrilling part about it.”
With a combination of online games and real world activities, people who get involved in this sport discover information and a lot of interesting information about their city.
“My brother-in-law conned me into it,” said participant Kevin Wingate. “He was doing it before I was, so he came to Irving and said ‘Hey, let’s give this a try.’ We did it one weekend and had fun.”
Wingate has been geocaching for several years and has found over 7,000 different caches.
“In Amarillo there was this 1,500 pound marble that’s made out of granite,” Wingate said. “It sat on just a film of water and with one hand you can turn that 1500 pound marble around to see the globe spin. Basically, like seeing the world turning.”
“Players did not have to be present tonight,” Higbie said. “If they missed out, they can go to geocaching.com and register there. They can register any time down the road; whether it is this week, next week, or the week after that. It doesn’t matter. On May 30 at 3 p.m. at Jaycee Center for Arts, we are going to have a grand finale and give away some prizes. The advantage of having people here this evening is that some of their prizes will have a little bonus and anybody who finds 50 percent of the caches will be guaranteed a prize.”