State parks aren't exactly notorious for best practices when it comes to utilizing new technology, so I have to say I was a little impressed when a friend of mine pointed me to this summer's GeoChallenge Adventure from the State Parks and Historic Sites division of the Georgia DNR.
Sealed ammo boxes labeled as a Georgia State Parks & Historic Sites GeoCache are hidden in 42 Georgia State Parks. There is a “First-to-Find” special prize for a certificate for a 1-night camping stay in each cache for the person who gets there first, and 10 of the caches contain an “endangered” gopher stuffed toy which becomes yours to keep and protect.
How To Play
- Download a Georgia State Park GeoChallenge PassPort or just the Grid Sheet.
- Get the GPS coordinates at www.Geocaching.com for the Georgia State Parks Geo-Challenge locations.
- Locate the caches by entering their GPS coordinates into a hand-held GPS unit.
The boxes contain a prize for the first adventurer to locate the cache, and successive adventurers are encouraged to leave a trinket of equal or greater value for the next adventurer. Log your name and any comments to the logbook, stamp your PassPort grid sheet with the unique stamp for that specific park and then share your experiences online. (Unfortunately, no direction is given as to where to share your experience online.)
There also are geo-coin (bronze, silver, and gold) for finding a certain number of caches and stamping your Geocache Passport with the stamps that are unique to each cache.
As I said earlier, I really applaud the effort. We don't often see innovation like this from state parks and recreational organizations. That said, I think there are a handful of ways the GeoChallenge Adventure could be made even better.
How To Make It Better
- Make each cache a Foursquare/Gowalla location so that gameplay is not limited only to those with handheld GPS devices. They could even partner with these location-based services so that checking-in at a cache automatically earns adventurers a cache-specific badge (an alternative to having to collect physical stamps in the GeoChallenge Passport).
- Develop GeoChallenge Adventure smartphone apps in lieu of Foursquare/Gowalla integration.
- Incorporate StickyBits at each cache location so that user-generated content can be shared easily online.
- Create and link to a Facebook Fan page for the GeoChallenge Adventure so that adventurers have a designated place to share their adventures online.
Click here for more detailed information about the Georgia State Parks GeoChallenge.