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Parks to host treasure hunt

Published: Tuesday, Jan. 15, 2013 11:27 a.m. CDT

SYCAMORE – To kick off the Sycamore Park District’s 90th anniversary, park officials and volunteers are offering a geocache treasure hunt on Sunday, Jan. 20.

“We are introducing nine coordinates in order to celebrate our 90th anniversary, so we are going to put them in nine of our parks,” said Lisa White, recreation supervisor for the park district. “I think it’s a great idea to get people out into the parks. There are so many parks that people don’t know about.”

Geocaching is a free, worldwide, real-world treasure hunting game, according to geocaching.com, the official global GPS geocache hunt site. The site reports that there are almost 2 million active geocaches and more than 5 million geocachers worldwide. Dave Yanke of Sycamore is one of those geocachers.

“I have been at this for about 10 years,” said Yanke. “It started out as an underground geek thing.”

Geocachers normally find latitude and longitude coordinates of geocaches from geocache.com, and then enter those coordinates into their hand-held GPS devices or smartphones, which generally get more accurate each year.

“Now you can get down to three to six feet, but any time you get within 15 feet you are happy,” Yanke said. Most geocaches are fairly well hidden and are not likely to be found at first glance, he said. A geocache is a waterproof container – anything from a food container to a film canister to a fake rock with a hidden compartment.

Every geocache contains a logbook that geocachers are expected to sign. Many larger caches contain small trinkets of nominal value; if geocachers take a trinket they are expected to replace it with one of equal or greater value.

Yanke has geocached in most of the counties in northern Illinois, 40 states and three countries. He has hidden about 40 geocaches himself, and actively maintains 20 to 30 of them.

“You probably pass dozens of geocaches every day,” Yanke said, noting that there are about 200 active geocaches within five miles of Sunday’s event.

The treasure hunt is open to geocachers of all skill levels. To participate, just bring your own hand-held GPS device or smartphone to the clubhouse in Sycamore Community Park on Sunday afternoon. Yanke and other volunteers will be at the golf course clubhouse to answer questions, introduce the clues and coordinates for the geocaches, and provide directions to the parks.

The coordinates will also be made available online that morning at www.geocaching.com. For more information email geocaching@sycamoreparkdistrict.com.

Geocache Treasure Hunt

1-3 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 20

Start at the clubhouse at Sycamore Community Park, where clues and coordinates for nine local geocaches will be distributed. Participants must bring their own hand-held GPS device or GPS-enabled smartphone. The event is free; no registration required.

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