The Pueblo West View

Teens take aim at ‘choosing own adventure’

Kids got to choose their own adventure – literally – during a geocaching event at the Pueblo West Library last week.

The tween program – aimed at kids ages 9 to 12 – first taught the participants the basics of using a handheld GPS unit, then put a new spin on a popular type of book, the “choose your own adventure” series.

Geocaching itself is an international game organized online through which participants can find little treasures all over the world by following GPS coordinates.

Some locations have “travel bugs” that have a tag and a certified number, and when you find one, you take it to another geocaching location and leave it, so they literally travel the world.

“We have about 100 geocaching sites in Pueblo, and most of them there’s a tiny little journal that you write your name and date in when you find it,” said Anne Casey of the CSU Extension Office, who ran the event at the library.

“It’s a fun game. Some people play geocaching as a way to get to know a new city when they’re traveling and some people monitor a lot of travel bugs that they’ve come in contact with.”

As a youth educator, Casey uses games and activities to help kids learn GPS.

The event organized for the library was based on a “choose your own adventure” book.

In such books, at several points through the story the reader gets to choose one of two options, and turns to the instructed page.

In the GPS version at the library, the kids received a tiny version of the first few pages of a story, and when they got to their first decision, they were given a choice of GPS waypoints (locations) to follow.

Once they used the handheld unit to find the waypoint, there was a bag with copies of the next section of pages, leading to another waypoint and so on.

The activity was outdoors and bags were hidden tied to a fence, around a tree trunk and other places.

When the tweens were finished, they could take their pages home for a completed book.

“It’s pretty quick to teach them how to use GPS,” Casey said.

Indeed, the kids who attended the activity learned the ins and outs of GPS within minutes and were off on their hunt.

“The programs that I have been working a lot with are what I see will be important to future careers, like GPS and GIS (accompanying technology,” Casey added.

“More and more jobs are listing those as required or desired, and I think it’s really important for them to get comfortable with GPS.”

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