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We kick off this episode of WSIU inFocus with an exploration of geocaching, a high-tech treasure hunt using a GPS device, a set of coordinates, and clues found at geocaching.com to find hidden treasures called “geocaches.” When you're geocaching, the thrill of the hunt is more often the reward, not the treasure, says Chris Short, an avid geocacher from Salem, Illinois. Short explains the technology that makes this pastime possible and shows how to search for geocaches. He and his parents, Chuck and Karen Short, enjoy both searching for and placing geocaches and have inspired others to get involved, thus making Marion County a hotbed for the activity. Short shows an ingenious “hide” his father placed and a “tribute hide” he made to honor his grandfather. On the day we visited with Short, all the geocaches he pointed out involved finding and signing logbooks. While these smaller caches are gaining in popularity, the classic type of geocache involves finding a treasure chest of sorts. It is a larger container in which people leave trinkets; geocachers can pick up the containers hidden by others to add to their own collection. We also visit with geocacher Shawn Hirst, who takes the InFocus crew to a geocache that contains tradable items, as well as special kind of coin called a “traceable.” With roughly 6,000 geocaches within 100 miles of Carbondale – many hidden in the woods – geocaching is the perfect activity for people to enjoy fresh air and exercise while building social and problem-solving skills.
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