I discovered Geocaching about 4 years ago and quickly grew a little obsessed. For those of you who have zero clue what I am talking about, Geocaching began over 10 years ago and is a GPS based hunt for hidden caches throughout the world. Some of them are as small as pill, while others can be the size of a shoe box. For many, it is simply the thrill of the hunt since some of the finds are quite challenging.
After spending a summer of digging through the nooks and crannies around Florida and beyond finding these little treasures, I figured it would be a great activity for my Geography class. Within the world of Geocaching you might stumble upon what is known as a "Travel Bug". These are items placed in Geocaches with special missions attached to them. Geocachers that find them have the option of taking them with them and dropping them off at another cache.
Four years ago, each of my classes launched "bugs" into the world with the mission of just traveling and seeing historic sites. Sadly, two of them were lost somewhere along on their journeys. Unbelievably though, two of them are still out traveling the world.
Betsy Ross has traveled the most miles, logging a staggering 55,000 miles in the United States alone. Recently, I discovered that she was very close to home and I went to retrieve her to reunite her with the kids who remained at our school. For such a long distance, she was in really great shape. Heck, I know after a long plane ride, I look like death, but then again, I'm not made of plastic.
This year, my Geography class has created their own version of the Amazing Race with teams competing to log the most miles within the school year. As the various groups travel around, we are going to look up each site they visit and do a 5 themes based activity researching and discovering about the location where their bug currently is located. The nice thing about many caches is that many are themed and provide insight into the locations. For example, in Tampa, we have some caches that highlight our immigrant history or share interesting information that would not really be found in a travel guide.
I really hope that this batch of bugs travel very far. It is quite amazing to see the reactions on the faces of the kids when they see how far their bugs have traveled and its pretty cool that they can learn something about our wide world in the process.
For more information about Geocaching, please visit their site and also check out my site as well. Happy caching!
UPDATE: After traveling for a few a months, this last batch of travel bugs have had quite the journey. One group has gone international, visiting Belgium, France and Greece. They are now resting somewhere in Spain, waiting to be picked up for their next adventure.