Updated Tue, Apr 1, 2014 10:33 am
The world's largest geocaching event was held in Athens March 27-30.
The Midwest Open Geocaching Adventure (MOGA) attracted people from all over the United States, some traveling from as far as Alaska. Geocaching is described as a real-life treasure hunt, using GPS receivers and coordinates to find objects hidden almost anywhere.
Lenie Holbrook, local geocaching enthusiast, played a large role in process of getting MOGA to Athens. As an associate professor in Ohio University's College of Business, he challenged his Creativity and Innovation Management class to work on geocaching-focused projects. Ultimately, the class decided on this year's theme: "Geocaching: Impossible."
During the weekend-long event, various competitions and contests were held. On Saturday, hundreds gathered at Strouds Run State Park to compete in individual and group geocaching competitions. One-hundred geocaches were hidden in the state park, specifically. However, on a regular basis there are geocaches hidden all over Athens County.
While the event was designed for registered geocacher users, Holbrook said mega-events like this one help spread awareness to the community.
"For hard-core geocachers like myself, we are always concerned and we have to be very careful about managing our activities," he said. "I mean if you are poking your hand in a guardrail out on a country road or something that's hidden around a tree in the woods and someone sees you, you are always concerned that they think you are doing something that is illegal."
Geocachers who attended the event said geocaching can be whatever you make it. Some people geocache for fun, while others compete. For Michael Maryan from St. Louis, MO, he said geocaching is a great way to just get out outdoors.
"Nowadays with technology, and kids especially, you see them staying at home playing video games. They are on their iPads or on their iPhones," he said. "Geocaching appeals to that side too because you use your iPad. You use your iPhones. You use your GPS, but you get to go out and enjoy nature."
According to Holbrook, there are six million geocachers and about 2.2 million active geocaches worldwide.