Category Archives: Parenting

Cache Maintenance

The first geocache I ever placed was with my daughter’s Girl Scout Troop, back in the fall of 2009. Our family was kind of new to geocaching then, and our daughter, then in 5th grade, was still more or less excited about caching too. When I looked online for resources to share with the troop, I found that Boy Scouts at least were already into caching in a big way. They even had a geocaching merit badge, which we did not. Nowadays, I’m happy to report, there is a whole program called Geoscouting, and there is a Girl Scout merit badge too.

Trefoil Travel Bug
Trefoil Travel Bug

Back then, though, most of our Girl Scouts had never heard of the activity of geocaching before. But they brought GPSs to the meeting and all gamely traipsed around in the woods, which were kind of muddy that day. We started a trackable from that cache as well. It was a chain of trefoils, one made by each girl scout, and we hoped it could reach Girl Scout Founder Juliette Low’s home in Savannah, GA.

Five-and-a-half years later, the troop members are in high school, pursuing other interests. The trackable made it to North Carolina and then went missing somewhere in New Hampshire, but the cache lives on. Even it has had to move once because the original location turned out to be too near someone’s private property.

The American Girl Place log book. All wet.
The American Girl Place log book. All wet.

I read in the geocaching forums that a lot of scout-related caches are poorly maintained because both the scouts and the troop leaders move on to other things. This, however, is not one of those caches! It has 214 logged visits: some of them have been other scout troops, and recently it served as somebody’s first-ever geocache find. But people had started reporting the container was in bad shape, its lid was no longer latchable, and worst of all, the log book was wet. (I have to say, one of the things I hate most in geocaching is a wet, slimy, unsignable log book).

So, yesterday, my husband and I went out to fix the cache. At a geocaching event raffle a couple years ago, I won a cache container that I never used. Someone put a lot of work into making it camo and cache-ready. It had a fresh logbook, a nice ziploc bag, and even some new swag. I don’t usually launch real geocoins anymore; too many of them go missing, like the trefoils did. But I made a proxy for my 1000 finds geocoin, and launched that in this cache too. If you’re ever in the Boston area, come find it!

A new container for the GirlScoutTroop71915 cache
A new container for the GirlScoutTroop71915 cache

Looking forward to OWL Training

I’ve been teaching middle school science for about 2 years now, in non-traditional settings. I sort of fell into teaching the age group after applying for a high school AP Biology tutoring position and finding out that they needed someone to teach the middle school ages instead (roughly ages 11-14). Since then, I’ve not looked back.

But it is a remarkable, and unexpected, place to find myself at this point in my life. Even when I made a conscious career change out of research administration and into K-12 teaching, I was expecting to teach high school. I wasn’t sure of the subject–biology or chemistry, or both–but it would high school, preferably Advanced Placement.

And when I was middle school age, I was not particularly enamored of school. (Actually, that’s an understatement.) Based on my experiences, I had written off middle school science as a waste not worth further exploration. It was my wonderful high school teacher, Mr. Webb, who had turned me on to biology. I was ahead in school, and two years younger than my peer group. They were going through puberty and I wasn’t. At least that’s a short, easy, believable explanation of what the problem was. But as I talk to adults now, I have yet to find one who really liked middle school and felt comfortable there. Even in my misery, which seemed so unique and poignant at the time, I wasn’t unusual. Reading about the subject of middle school education can be a little harrowing: this interesting article about middle schools quotes one teacher calling middle school “The Bermuda Triangle of Education.”

While I have to admit, I have had students both break-dancing in the corner and climbing under tables (not at the same time), I haven’t been as daunted as I feared, or as given to hyperbole, even in private moments. I think maybe the fact that I remember that time so well in my own life gives me a little window into what’s going on in that of my students.

It’s in that spirit that I’m approaching OWL training this weekend. In this case, OWL stands for “Our Whole Lives,” it is a sexuality and decision-making program created and run by the Unitarian-Universalist Association.  I will be training to be a teacher of these classes at my UU church.

It’s a long way from science education in some ways, but not in others. My daughter went through it at our church a couple of years ago. I don’t if “enjoyed” is quite the right word for her experience, but I have seen her grow in maturity and thoughtfulness around all those issues. Parents aren’t allowed to teach their own children OWL, which is a good policy. I’m looking forward to being able to help the growth and maturation of other kids in the congregation.

Screen Shot 2015-04-07 at 11.05.24 AM