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Club holds workshop on high-tech scavenger hunting

David Coker stands with his global positioning system equipment next to a sign welcoming visitors to the town of Beaver Creek in the Yukon Territory of Canada, where he and his wife spent time geocaching.

David Coker stands with his global positioning system equipment next to a sign welcoming visitors to the town of Beaver Creek in the Yukon Territory of Canada, where he and his wife spent time geocaching.

The first time Melissa Coker and her husband David searched for a cache, they almost didn't find it. The geocache novices used their global positioning system to look for the cache, a container that held a log book for them to record their names.

The GPS coordinates led them to a church cemetery in Newton County. They didn't know the size of the object they were looking for, which could have ranged from a gallon bucket size to an object that would fit in the palm of their hands.

As they were about to give up their search, Melissa spied a piece of green foam, the kind used to hold plastic flowers, in the bushes. A 35 mm film canister rested deep inside the foam. They opened the canister and found a small piece of paper, on which they logged their geocaching nickname.

"It was amazing that we even ever found it," recalled Coker.

Almost three years later, the Cokers, now avid geocachers, can boast 1,000 finds. Coker said geocaching has taken them as far as Alaska and Canada in search of the caches, making them "international geocachers," quipped Coker.

Geocaching is a hobby in which a person downloads latitude and longitude coordinates onto a GPS, either handheld or on a smart phone, or in a vehicle, from websites such as www.geocaching.com.

The person follows the coordinates to locate a cache, a container that holds a log book. When the cache is located, the person writes his name (or sometimes a geo-nickname) and date on a log book and returns the cache to its hiding place.

Finds can be logged into the website from which the geocacher obtained the coordinates, and the sites keep track of the number of finds.

Coker said that in order to get more people interested in the hobby, local geocachers in a club dubbed the East Side Gang will be holding a geocaching workshop that is free and open to the public.

The workshop takes place from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. March 23 at Hicks Lake between 6838 and 6920 Ga. Highway 212 in Covington.

Coker said Scout and youth groups are welcome but children must be accompanied by adults.

The workshop includes a presentation on geocaching, lunch and small group geocaching excursions. To register for the workshop, call 770-787-5031 or email mncoker@bellsouth.net.

Coker credits the Georgia State Park System in getting her and her husband interested in geocaching. In 2010, the Cokers, who camp often in Georgia parks, participated in a geocache challenge offered by the park system.

"Then we found they were everywhere," Coker said of geocache locations.

Coker said she and her husband geocache about twice a month, and often take their grandchildren along. Sometimes, if they're sitting in a restaurant while on a vacation, they'll type their location into the GPS, find a geocache nearby and go on a short hike to find it.

Geocaches could be out in the woods -- even up in trees -- or in public places, such as below a lamp post.

"It gets us out and exercising and we spend time together," Coker said.