A few Councils have started releasing the requirements for the much anticipated Geocaching Merit Badge. This was originally discussed as GPS/GIS Merit Badge. Keep in mind the Geocaching merit badge and pamphlet are not finalized yet, but these appear to be close to, if not, the final Geocaching Merit Badge requirements. Scouts should NOT start working on the Merit Badge until the pamphlet is available!
Geocaching Merit Badge—Revised Requirements 2/24/2010
1. Do the following:
a. Explain to your counselor the most likely hazards you may encounter while participating in geocaching activities and what you should do to anticipate, help prevent, mitigate, and respond to these hazards.
b. Discuss first aid and prevention for the types of injuries or illnesses that could occur while participating in geocaching activities, including cuts, scrapes, snakebite, insect stings, tick bites, exposure to poisonous plants, heat and cold reactions (sunburn, heatstroke, heat exhaustion, hypothermia), and dehydration.
c. Discuss how to properly plan an activity that uses GPS, including using the buddy system, sharing your plan with others, and considering the weather, route, and proper attire.
2. Discuss the following with your counselor:
a. Why you should never bury a cache.
b. How to use proper geocaching etiquette when hiding or seeking a cache, and how to properly hide a geocaches.
c. The principles of Leave No Trace as they apply to geocaching [[Front country and back country issues can be discussed in the text.]]
3. Explain the following terms used in geocaching: waypoint, log, cache, accuracy, difficulty and terrain ratings, attributes, trackable. Choose five additional terms to explain to your counselor.
4. Explain how the Global Positioning System (GPS) works. Then, using Scouting’s Teaching EDGE, demonstrate the use of a GPS unit to your counselor. Include marking and editing a waypoint, changing field functions, and changing the coordinate system in the unit.
5. Do the following:
a. Show that you know how to use a map and compass and explain why this is important for geocaching.
b. Explain the similarities and differences between GPS navigation and standard map reading skills and describe the benefits of each.
c. Explain the UTM (Universal Transverse Mercator) system and how it differs from the latitude/longitude system used for public geocaches.
d. Show how to plot a UTM waypoint on a map. Compare the accuracy to that found with a GPS unit.
6. Describe the four steps to finding your first cache to your counselor. Then mark and edit a waypoint. [[To all: After more thought, I think we can leave out any mention of geocaching.com here and just cite the Web site as the source in the text. We use this same type of reference in other mbps, such as Whitewater.]]
7. With your parent’s permission*, go to www.geocaching.com. Type in your zip code to locate public geocaches in your area. Print out information about three of those geocaches and share this with your counselor. [[Yes, details about account info can be discussed in the text. We have specific guidelines for online use—this doesn’t need to be written by MS.]]
*To fulfill this requirement, you will need to set up a free user account with www.geocaching.com. Ask your parent for permission and help before you do so. [[Q to all: Does this wording work?]]
8. Do ONE of the following:
a. If a Cache to Eagle series exists in your council, visit at least three of the 12 locations. Describe the projects that each cache you visit highlights, and explain how the Cache to Eagle program helps share our Scouting service with the public.
b. Create a Scouting-related travel bug that promotes one of the values of Scouting. “Release” your travel bug into a public geocache and, with your parent’s permission, monitor its progress at www.geocaching.com for 30 days. Keep a log, and share this with your counselor at the end of the 30-dayperiod.
c. Set up and hide a public geocache, following all the www.geocaching.com guidelines. [[We will include those guidelines in the text.]] With your parent’s permission, follow the logs online for 30 days and share them with your counselor.
d. Explain what Cache In Trash Out (CITO) means, and describe how you have practiced CITO at public geocaches or at a CITO event. Then, either create CITO containers to leave at public caches, or host a CITO event for your unit or for the public.
9. Plan a geohunt for a youth group such as your troop or a neighboring pack, at school, or your place of worship. Choose a theme, set up a course with at least four waypoints, teach the players how to use a GPS unit, and play the game. Tell your counselor about your experience, and share the materials you used and developed for this event.
I find this Geocaching Merit Badge interesting for two reasons. First, it is one of the few Merit Badges that doesn’t really introduce Scouts to a possible career. Second, the requirements are tied into a private website that the BSA has no control over. What happens if geocaching.com stops offering free accounts, or shuts down?
What do you think about these Geocaching Merit Badge requirements?