NORTH ADAMS -- In preparation for a large geocaching event Saturday, enthusiasts of the activity are spending the week canvassing the region for hidden treasure.
Katherine Gwozdz, an organizer of the Berkshire GeoBash, said Tuesday that 14 events and three activities have been planned throughout the week, leading up the Berkshire GeoBash. The event will be held at Bousquet Ski Area in Pittsfield from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday.
"If we can pull it off, it will be the first mega geocaching event in New England," she said.
Geocaching, which began in 2000, is an outdoor treasure hunting game in which people use mobile Global Positioning Systems to locate caches by longitude and latitude coordinates. Caches can be hidden anywhere, and the most basic ones are containers that hold a log book and a pencil or pen. They may also include trinkets and small items that can be traded or swapped with objects from other caches. Individuals who participate in geocaching have code names they record in the log books of the caches they find.
"It's just a lot of fun," Gwozdz said. "It's a great family activity. It teaches sharing, trading and fair play."
One of the 14 events took place Tuesday afternoon at Historic Valley Campground. Approximately 25 people searched the campground for 18 caches that were hidden as part of Gwozdz's after-school program.
"You meet so many really awesome people doing this," Gwozdz said. "It
Gwozdz has gone geocaching in 21 states, France, Canada, and Curacao in the Bahamas since she began the activity in 2007, she said.
Geocaching has taken Frank Krol, of Dalton, to many places, including Nova Scotia and Canada.
"I'm not a kid anymore, and doing this keeps me walking. I've also gotten to see some new places," Krol said.
He said his interest in the activity began in 2004 when his son-in-law gave him a GPS and a link to the official geocaching website. The gifts came after Krol had gotten lost while deer hunting, Krol said.
"This is what got me going, and I have been doing it ever since," he said.
Gwozdz said geocaching, in a sense, has become its own culture.
"We have our own language called ‘groundspeak,' and we try to be stealthy when we're out looking for caches," she said.
The activity also has its own mascot, Signal, who is a frog with an antenna on his head.
Gwozdz said that registration is still open for Saturday's free event, and people can sign-up on the day of the event. Pre-registration is suggested. For more information on the Berkshire GeoBash, visit dev.berkshiregeobash.com.