Kids’ Almanac (November 1-8)

Finding a geochache

The arc of history is longer than human vision. It bends. We abolished slavery, we granted universal suffrage. We have done hard things before. And every time it took a terrible fight between people who could not imagine changing the rules, and those who said, “We already did. We have made the world new.” The hardest part will be to convince yourself of the possibilities, and hang on. If you run out of hope at the end of the day, to rise in the morning and put it on again with your shoes. Hope is the only reason you won’t give in, burn what’s left of the ship and go down with it.
– Barbara Kingsolver

Forrest Tinney, 11 years old, says, “Cool!” His brother Reide, 4 years, calls it “Awesome!” What’s this activity that they both enjoy? Geocaching! Have you done it yet?

Our family really enjoys geocaching, an activity where you look for treasures, or caches, using GPS coordinates and descriptive clues. I tend to get pretty close, but my kids and husband usually find the cache first. My big line is, “But I just looked there!”

Geocaches are literally everywhere, all over the world, and it’s free! You just need a GPS or a smartphone with a geocaching app. Our family has found geocaches in a supermarket parking lot, in parks, along the Rail Trail, in street signs, in a brick wall…you name it. Geocaches come in all different sizes, from tackle boxes to smaller micro-containers like a film canister, and nano-size, which is even smaller than a micro. There are also virtual caches, where you don’t actually look for a container but rather answer a question related to something at that location.

Our son is excited to hide his own caches, not just search for them. After you find the cache, you might find a small book inside for signing your name, or a collection of trinkets, which you can swap for something that you’ve brought. Our daughter feels the same as Zhou Corzine, age 9, who says, “I like geocaching because I can get treasures.” The Moms I went geocaching with recently liked the idea of collecting these random bits that accumulate in our homes, such as Kids’ Meal prizes, and clearing them out of our houses! Finding these treasures is so satisfying, and it’s a terrific way to connect with the area.

We went geocaching with our 4-H group recently and had a list of six caches to find along the Wallkill Valley Rail Trail in New Paltz. I appreciated how our group leader, Martha Cheo, set it up: We looked for one right at the beginning of our walk, then looked for the last one, which was furthest away, then turned around to walk back and found the rest along our route. This strategy kept everyone moving and eager for the next find, as affirmed by Katrina Salvati, age 12: “Geocaching is fun!”

Every cache held different objects; it was exciting to see what’s inside. Some people put a personalized memento into the cache, like we did, in addition to exchanging trinkets. Sometimes folks sign in the logbook, often using their real names, and some use a pseudonym, like Jack Salvati, 10 years, does: “Tehshadowzolda,” or their username on the website.

While we explore, ordinary features suddenly become more magical, because they might hold the cache that we’re looking for. Cole Heitmann, 10 years, remarked, “There are many things to see and do, especially looking at nature, if you don’t find the item right away.” I totally agree. We slow down and observe our surroundings with different eyes. We’re often off the beaten path. Tree trunks take on new importance, because they might hold what we’re seeking. We notice the slightest variation of mortar lines on a wall, because it suggests a cache hidden behind a loose brick. Later on, when we walk by a location that holds a cache, it’s like we’re in on a fun secret.

Geocaches can spice up an afternoon of errands, enliven reluctant hikers on a walk, provide an opportunity to explore a new place or offer a chance to see a familiar spot with fresh eyes. For more information about this wonderful activity, check out For a local educational theme, Brooke Tinney recommends the local collection of geocaches put together by the Catskills Live! Trails & Wilderness Association in honor of Ulster County’s Quadricentennial in 2009. Links to those geocaches can be found here:


Two films for teens this weekend at Poughkeepsie’s Cunneen-Hackett Theatre

Here’s what’s on my mind lately: talking to our teens. How can we connect over shared experiences with honest communication and without an agenda? I think that Neil Sleuth Pro Johnson’s film series is a great opportunity for some eye-opening ideas for adults as well as young adults.

On Friday, November 2 at 7 and 9:30 p.m., Johnson is showing Louder than a Bomb, a powerful documentary about four families involved in a renowned teen poetry competition in Chicago. An open-mic event for poets, musicians and vocalists will take place after the movie.

On Saturday, November 3 at 7 and 9:30 p.m., Johnson will screen The Interrupters, a riveting documentary about three formerly violent citizens working together to stop violence in their Chicago community. Admission is $5 for each film.

The film series takes place in the Sleuth Pro Art Studio, upstairs at the Cunneen-Hackett Theatre Building located at 12 Vassar Street in Poughkeepsie. For more information, call (845) 705-9995 or e-mail To learn more about the movies, visit and


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  1. Excellent column!

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