By Joe Sebastiani, Seasonal Programs Team Leader
Each month, we take our Teen Naturalist group out for nature study, outdoor adventure, or volunteering for the environment. Last Saturday, we ventured to White Clay Creek State Park for some geocaching, hiking, and a disc golf championship. Instead of just hiking around, we used a GPS unit to locate a number of Geocaches in the park. Strung together, these caches determined where we would hike that day. For Geocaching, all you have to do is plug the cache coordinates into the GPS unit, and hit the GO TO button. The GPS arrow points the way, and it also tells you how far away you are from the cache. The caches are usually old metal boxes or other containers hidden in thickets, hollow logs, or other such places. They usually contain some kind of treasure to take with you, as long as you put something in the cache yourself. You have to use your brain to decide where to go, because sometimes the GPS points across ponds and through rose thickets. As we found out, the most direct way to a cache is not always the best.
Along the way from cache to cache, we came across some interesting things. We found several deer skeletons. One of them provided several of the teens with take-home bones, and we aged another deer to 1&1/2 years old by looking at the teeth. We saw a groundhog, two Bald Eagle chasing each other, and also flushed a Wilson’s Snipe in a wet field. Our hike started at the Delaware Nature Society’s Mortenson Property adjacent to the park, went around the lightly-used Big Pond area, and ended way down Fairhill School Drive. We had to walk all the way back to the van, so it was about a 5-mile hike all around.
Geocaching was the excuse to get outside, observe nature, explore, and breathe some fresh air. The Teen Naturalists always seem to have fun no matter what we are doing, even if they are losing to me in disc golf.
If you know someone who is 13 to 17 years old who might enjoy our Teen Naturalist group, please contact us if you want to check out the schedule or register for the 2010-2011 season which runs through August.