Leeanna Clark, a registered nurse and staff development coordinator at the Williamsport Home, is the guest speaker at the 7 p.m. Tuesday meeting of Northcentral Chapter 8, Society for Professional Archaeologists.
The archaeology chapter meets the second Tuesday of each month, October through April, at Lycoming County Historical Society, 858 W. Fourth St.
Clark will discuss the "treasure hunting" hobby she shares with her grandchildren: the worldwide game of hiding and seeking treasure called geocaching.
Juliana Clark, left, granddaughter of geocacher Leeanna Clark, along with her friend Brittaney Loner, daughter of Kim Loner, is hooked on geocaching with her grandmother.
A geocacher can place a "treasure" - a geocache - somewhere interesting, pinpoint its location using Global Positioning Technology and then share the geocache's existence and location online after they enroll at the free, official global GPS cache hunt site, www.geocaching.com. The public is invited to attend and encouraged to bring a hand-held GPS receiver for experimenting with geocaching.
Anyone with a GPS receiver can then try to locate the geocache. A cache can be any type of container and usually holds a logbook that finders sign. It also can contain trinkets or small tradable items.
Clark first learned about geocaching while reading the local newspaper.
"There was a story in the (Williamsport) Sun-Gazette last Christmas about the Powells (Jeanne and George Powell of South Williamsport) and I thought we would like to try this," she said. "After finding our first cache, we were hooked. We have been geocaching for about a year."
Her geocache partners are her grandchildren.
"I have nine grandchildren, five of which are old enough to walk through the woods and areas to actually look. One granddaughter, Juliana, is hooked and goes with me frequently. Another granddaughter lives in Florida and when she visits in the summer she pushes to go, too."
According to Clark, geocaching is a great way to get younger children involved in a fun activity and they do get a charge when the grown-ups can't seem to find their caches. Her granddaughter Juliana "is finding a lot and enjoys certain caches from her favorite geocachers. Thinking through the clues and stopping to think before heading out to actually find the cache is important for success.
"I try to let them find the caches but do steer them in the right direction if they go in circles," she said. "The grandkids are also into hiding caches and every place we go they try to find a great place to hide one."
Since Clark and her family have only been geocaching for a year, they have stayed in the area but they have plans to take day trips this summer to geocache farther away.
By logging onto the Web site she can learn about other local geocachers and their caches. She said their favorite geocacher to hunt for is jipsi59 (his Internet screen name). His "Original Noah's Ark" series was the inspiration for Clark and her grandchildren to do a "Mother's Goose" series. A "game within a game," Geocachers must find nine Noah's Ark caches and get nine clues, then figure out the clues to the final cache.
Other caches contain "Travel Bugs," which are small trinkets with a tracking number attached. They are meant to be taken out of a cache and put into another - in other words, to travel. Geocoins also are traveling cache finds that are similar to Travel Bugs.
"Geocache containers can be anything watertight from a nano (a small metal tube as small as your fingernail) to huge (buckets and larger)," Clark said. "It's what the geocacher who hides it imagines. Some of the small ones only have a log book but others have trinkets (trade items) and travel bugs that move from cache to cache. If you take something out of the container, you put something back in and try to hide the container the same as or better than you found it.
"We enjoy the thrill of finding the cache and not just adding to the number of finds as some are harder and more clever and you have to think out of the box to find them. Others are easy. These are called 'cache and dash,' " Clark said.
Because the game is about secrecy and hidden treasure, geocachers have to be careful.
"You always need to use stealth as most are in public places and we want others to enjoy the thrills of finding them," she said. "Also, so muggles (non-geocachers) don't see you and destroy the cache and its contents. You also clean up the area around you. 'Cache In, Trash Out' is the motto of Geocachers."
As Clark can testify, geocaching is a great way to get outside, explore the world around you, figure out the clues and find something as a reward.
"Anyone can do this! My grandchildren who have gone with me are 6 through 11 years old and they sometimes get distracted by the cache site, but also ask what are we looking for, and where is it."
For more information, visit www.PennArchaeology.com.