For modern-day adventure seekers and technology enthusiasts, geocaching is an ideal sport. Unfortunately, the high expenses of the tools required for the activity have prevented many from giving it a shot. Well, not anymore. Liverpool Public Library, 310 Tulip St., Liverpool (457-0310), has put together eight OnSafari Geocaching Kits, including a Garmin eTrex 20 handheld GPS device, a getting-started guide and The Geocaching Handbook, all tucked neatly away into a small, red shoulder bag.
Not only are adults permitted to borrow the equipment for up to one week using their Onondaga County Public Library card, but a contest provides a greater incentive for adventurers to go out and locate all five geocaches hidden at Onondaga Lake Park. Anyone who discovers the geocaches before July 22, signs the paper log found inside the geocache and registers online at geocaching.com, has the chance to win a free family boat cruise on the Erie Canal, from Mid-Lakes Navigation Company.
“I like it because with the economy being so bad there’s a lot more people doing stay-cations and this gives them a chance to try out this new sport,” said Jean Armour Polly, executive director of the Liverpool Public Library.
Geocaching is a worldwide phenomenon that has been blossoming over the past several years. Although many people are unaware of it, there are dedicated geocaching groups in Central New York, like the CNY Geocachers. Different organizations set up geocaches, composed of various-size containers filled with small trinkets, in all sorts of areas.
“I think we are getting people new to the sport who are just trying it out and want to see what they can do,” said Polly. “They go out for a week. You got a vacation week, you can spend it finding them all around Onondaga County. You don’t have to be a rugged outdoor person to do this.”
After you enter coordinates, a GPS system will lead you to 30 feet or so away from the hidden geocache. From there, you must rely on the clues provided on geocaching.com to close in on your find. Upon locating your desired geocache, a barter-and-trade system takes place. The container is filled with a number of small trinkets that other geocachers leave behind. You must then trade something of your own for one of the trinkets provided.
While some people leave behind impersonal nonperishable items like pens or small flashlights, there are others who leave travel bugs and coins that have designated adventure paths. It’s then up to geocachers to send them on their way.
Liverpool Public Library is the first library in New York state loaning out geocaching kits, and one of the few nationally that’s doing this at all, said Polly. The idea first sprang up after observing the popularity of their Eagle Watching kit, including a pair of binoculars and a map of where to spot eagles in the area. Having heard about the Onondaga Partnership grants, which seek to attract positive attention to Onondaga Lake, the library began to gather a proposal asking for more money to afford other kits, specifically the geocaching kit.
“People tend to think libraries are just books, but we’ve had such a great response to these kits that we’ve started to get some more,” said Polly. “The whole idea of the library is both education and recreation.”
After being awarded about $5,000 through the grant, Liverpool Public Library has begun purchasing even more kits to loan out. These include Stargazer Kits, with special binoculars and star charts, as well as a Family History Video Kit, including a flip-cam and 20 leading questions that dive into the most interesting aspects of family history.
Geocaching has been a learning experience for Polly, as well as other staffers at the Liverpool Public Library. With the help of the CNY Geocachers and project manager Alan Napier, they’ve had a great turnout. They can only expect a growing number of adventurers into the library as summer break lets out students eager to indulge in this new sport.
For more information, call 457-0310.