Spring is just around the corner and many folks are looking forward to spending time outdoors. Water Rocks! invites visitors to Iowa state parks to join in a real-world hunt for hidden treasure, specifically geocaches. Geocaching is an activity that combines technology with an appreciation for the outdoors.
Water Rocks!, a statewide youth campaign to bring an awareness and an appreciation of water, is working with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources to place geocaches in selected state parks. Currently, Water Rocks! has geocaches hidden in 13 Iowa state parks. George Wyth State Park, located along the Cedar River in Waterloo, contains four Water Rocks! geocaches.
“Geo” is short for geography and “caching” is the process of hiding materials. A geocacher enters the latitude and longitude coordinates of a cache into a global positioning system (GPS) device or GPS-enabled phone and then navigates to that area to search for the hidden cache. The cache is a waterproof container that holds a logbook for finders to sign and sometimes contains trinkets to keep or exchange. The cache is then put back where it was found for the next geocacher to locate.
Water Rocks! encourages families to get outside and appreciate Iowa’s natural resources and taking kids on a treasure hunt at a state park may be a great way to start. “The Water Rocks! geocaches are unique because they are educational as well as interactive and fun,” says Nathan Stevenson, Water Rocks! geocache coordinator. “The best way to learn about our natural resources is to experience them in nature, and what better place than our state parks?”
The Water Rocks! website provides GPS coordinates for the geocaches and gives clues to help with the hunt. Go to the “Join the Treasure Hunt” page and click the X’s on the treasure map to reveal the coordinates for the caches at each state park; there are multiple caches per park. For example, this clue is for the “Pirate Picnic” cache in George Wyth State Park: “This place is perfect to have a quiet lunch, I’d search for a log, it’s more than a hunch: 42 32.130, 092 25.155.”
Visit www.geocaching.com to join the worldwide organization for free, get coordinates for caches hidden all over the world, report your finds, and network with other geocachers. The Water Rocks! geocaches are listed on this website as well.
In addition to geocaching, Water Rocks! has many ways to learn about water, soil and other natural resources, all for free: K-12 school visits from the Water Rocks! team, music videos, an online computer game, entertaining informative videos, learning activities that accompany the videos, and an annual educational summit for teachers.
Visit the website to learn more and to request a school visit: www.waterrocks.org. Follow Water Rocks! on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.