COSAM News Articles 2020 June COSAM Campus Cache: Treasures at the Arboretum

COSAM Campus Cache: Treasures at the Arboretum

Published: 06/30/2020

By: Phillip Coxwell

stone steps found at the arboretum

The sun was still high above their heads, even on this late summer afternoon. The clear sky and unseasonably cool temperatures made it a perfect day to go treasure hunting, and that’s what the three friends were currently doing. Strolling through the woods looking for a hidden chest filled with things they could only imagine.

It may sound like a scene from the Goonies, but the modern day treasure hunt known as Geocaching happens every day all around the globe. However, instead of using a map to search for a chest filled with gold coins, people use GPS, or app on their cell phone, to search for containers hidden at specific GPS coordinates.

log book from a geocache

Every geocache has a log book to sign showing that you found it.

Rules for Geocaching

  • Bring your own pen - most caches have a pen or pencil to sign the log, but to be safe, you should carry one with you.
  • Watch out for Muggles. Muggles are other people who do not know about Geocaching. There can be a bit of fun in trying to avoid them, but if one asks you what you are doing, tell them. You may entice them to try Geocaching for themselves!
  • Do not trespass. Unless the Geocache specifically says it is hidden on private property, do not look there.
  • Re-hide every cache the way you found it… or better!

With the cancellation of summer camps due to COVID-19, COSAM Outreach has created a Campus Geocaching Challenge at the Donald E. Davis Arboretum meant to encourage families to spend time in nature while learning more about the world we live in. This first challenge consists of five caches which are each hidden from one end of the Arboretum to the other. Each cache has a special 3D printed coins representing one of the five Departments within the College of Sciences and Mathematics for hunters to collect (one per family). There are also other items that can be traded, so be sure to bring some swag with you to swap out. Once the challenge is finished, take a photo of yourself (or your family) with all five coins and share it using the hashtag #COSAMCampusCache.

Coins found in each cache that represent the 5 COSAM Departments

Each cache has a special 3D printed coins representing one of the five Departments within the College of Sciences and Mathematics for hunters to collect (one per family).

Geocaching began in May, 2000 when one GPS enthusiast, Dave Ulmer, hid a black bucket filled with various items in the woods near Beavercreek, Oregon. He posted the coordinates to a GPS user’s group and called it the “Great American GPS Stash Hunt.” His only rule was “Take some stuff, leave some stuff.” Over the past 20 years, Geocaching has since evolved into a worldwide activity that is open to anyone who can use a GPS. Now with the prevalence of GPS enabled smartphones, it is even easier to take part.

phone with a compass pointing toward the geocache

Navigating to a geocache can be easy using your phone and certain apps.

Smartphone Apps for Geocaching

  • Geocaching - This is the official app of It is availabe for Android and iPhone, and free to download with limited options. You can upgrade to a premium membership at to view all cache types.
  • c:Geo - Only available for Android, but is completely free and can be used to find caches from
  • Google Maps - Not specifically for Geocaching, but is available both on Android and iOS (as well as your computer). It is free and you can find geocaches by simply entering the coordinates in the search bar (make sure they are entered exactly as listed).
container for the first cache

Each cache is hidden in a container with the log book, coins and other items.

one side of the coins featuring the interlocking AU

The reverse of each coin features the interlocking AU

Entering coordinates in your phone

Geocaching App: This should work with a basic or premium membership. Choose any cache on the map, scroll down and tap "Waypoints." You can then choose "My Waypoints" and it will open a screen where you can input your coordinates. Coordinates can only be entered in Decimal Minutes format (dd mm.mmm)

c:Geo: On the main screen choose "Go To" and then "Waypoints." Choose the format your coordinates are in, and enter them to create a waypoint.

Google Maps: Type your coordinates into the search bar and when they pop up as an item below, tap them. Do not click search. Choose navigate to see the waypoint with directions.

Learn more about geocaching at


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