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Exploring Sycamore’s parks

Geocaching helps district celebrate 90 years

Published: Monday, Jan. 21, 2013 5:30 a.m. CST
Caption
(Jeff Engelhardt – jengelhardt@shawmedia.com)
Kelly “SycoScouter” Colness talks with Sycamore Park District employee Lisa White on Sunday about the geocaching event at the Sycamore Golf Course Clubhouse.

SYCAMORE – From old German coins to little plastic bugs, geocachers did not know what awaited them Sunday.

As part of its 90th anniversary celebration, the Sycamore Park District held a Geocaching Treasure Hunt on Sunday that sent participants across nine Sycamore parks. Treasure hunters started at the golf course clubhouse, where they were given clues and coordinates before firing up GPS devices and starting their search.

Kelly Colness, known more commonly as “SycoScouter” to local geocachers, helped park district officials hide the items around the parks. He said the caches could be hidden in trees, on posts or under rocks.

The former Boy Scout leader said geocaching has become popular in the area, with more than 2,300 caches located within a 25-mile radius of Sycamore.

“It’s just a great way to get people out to see the Sycamore parks,” Colness said of the event.

Jake Peterson and Molly Lamansky attended the event and said geocaching has been a great way to see new places in the area and get outdoors for a free activity. Peterson, who started the hobby in June, said his favorite part is finding and replacing items in caches and researching items’ histories.

All caches can be logged and researched at www.geocaching.com and other similar databases.

“It’s always amazing to see how many miles some of these items have traveled just by being picked up and replaced,” he said. “It’s a great way to stay active.”

Bart Desch, the park district’s superintendent of recreation, hopes the new geocaching program will expose more people to all the park district has to offer. The park district attempted to start a geocaching program in the fall, but had little response, he said.

But Sunday, nearly 50 people were on the prowl, and Desch hopes similar events happen in the future. Once people receive coordinates, they can go geocaching at the parks anytime.

“We were trying to think of something people could go to the parks for in the winter,” Desch said. “So we’re excited to get this going.”

The treasure hunt is one of many events the park district planned for its 90th anniversary. The district will host a bicycle rally June 8 at the Sycamore Park Sports Complex and an ice cream social July 14 at Wetzel Park.

Desch said the park district and National Bank & Trust Company recently teamed up for the anniversary, which could result in another big event.

“We’re in the middle of planning a big fireworks show,” he said. “Hopefully it will happen sometime in the summer or fall.”

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