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The Boy Scouts of America has created a variation of the traditional Pinewood Derby through the use of “geocaching,” in which “Travel Bug” cars are hidden and then found by scouts using GPS devices. Once found, each car advances to the next leg of the race. The length of the race — at least in terms of San Diego Boy Scouts — is cross-country.

Miniature wooden cars with serial numbers began their journey on March 6 at Westfield Mission Valley Mall. (Scouting groups around the country released cars on March 6, in a race that will end at the scouts’ National Jamboree at Fort A.P. Hill, Virginia, in August.)

After being hidden, other geocachers use a published set of latitude and longitude coordinates to locate the cars hidden in containers. An important aspect of geocaching is the use of travel bugs, an item with a serial number trackable through the geocaching.com website. Finders retrieve and move the “Travel Bugs” from cache to cache, and as they pass through many hands, track their progress across the country. The exercise lends itself to wilderness activities.

On March 6, the San Diego–Imperial Council of the BSA prepared the small wooden cars among hordes of moviegoers at the mall. Approximately 50 people congregated together, drawing the attention of at least one security officer. In a short amount of time, the eight miniature cars were released, taken by both geocachers and scouts, to begin their cross-country trek.

The BSA will award prizes for the cars that reach the National Jamboree, that travel the farthest, and which have passed through the most caches. Eight troops from the San Diego–Imperial Council are represented in the race. They are Mission, Sweetwater, Black Mountain, Heartland, Pacific Coast, Scripps Mesa, Kit Carson, Pack 863, and Pack 1216.

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Ken Harrison March 11, 2010 @ 4:52 p.m.

Very cool. I didn't know anything about this event, even though our Cub Pack geochaces at every camp out.


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