Friday, September 25, 2020

YOUTH: Geocaching Prayer Adventure

A couple of years ago I wrote a Prayer Hike for the Environmental Learning Program at Camp Omega in Waterville, MN. Campers were given a map and were to hike to designated places. At that place they would find a Bible verse, an activity, and a prayer. ELP students were given a journal and part of the experience included questions which required a response. Ever since then I've tried to figure out how to provide the same experience for the youth and families at my small church in my small town. There aren't enough contemplative areas nearby to do a meaningful hike. Then a college friend told me she started geocaching and BINGO! An idea was born. What about a Geocaching Prayer Adventure in the time of Covid?

Geocaching is simply using your phone and coordinates to find a cache that's been hidden. It can be posted on your church website or the information can be picked up at the church. 

Here's how to do it: 
  1. Choose your locations carefully. If you're going to use private property make sure you get permission to do so. Do not use transportation hubs as unmarked packages may be considered dangerous and destroyed.
  2. Choose your container carefully. Make sure the lid won't pop off easily if an animal plays with it. Also, make sure it's big enough for everything you need to put in it. Choose a color that helps the container blend in with its surroundings. Don't make them so small that nobody can find them.
  3. Create your cache. Most cache's contain a log book (small notebook), geocaching congratulatory note with directions (sample note), pen/pencil, and perhaps a small trinket to swap. Place items that can be ruined by moisture in a ziplock bag inside the container. Label the outside of the container so that those not participating know not to pick it up and take it with them or throw it away. 
  4. Sample cache. First stop on list (does not have to be done first): 
    1. Bible verse card. (read aloud) What am I to do? I will pray with my spirit, but I will pray with my mind also; I will sing praise with my spirit, but I will sing with my mind also.  1 Corinthians 14:15 ESV 
    2. Activity. SHARE with your group one thing you do or will do to praise and thank God each morning. Together shout, THANK YOU GOD! 
      JOURNAL (write/answer): How do you think starting your day with a simple prayer thanking and praising God for what He does for you each day will change your day?  
    3. Prayer card. Dear God, we love you and praise you for everything you have done and continue to do for us even though we do not deserve it. We ask that you guide us this night and bring us closer to you for the sake of your son, Jesus Christ, Amen. 
    4. Sticker. Add the sticker to your passport/journal. 
    5. Log your name(s) in the log book for the leader to retrieve later. 
  5. Camouflage your cache by using camouflage containers or finding a way to color it so that it blends in with the area in which it will hide. Don't make them too easy for people to find. It ruins the fun and challenge. 
  6. Write down the coordinates! If this is a short-term bit of fun (give your group a couple of weeks to find all your caches) keep a chart or table with written directions of where it is hidden so you can easily retrieve it. 
  7. Participants will need to carry a few things with them in a tote bag or backpack: cell phone with a map app or gps locator, water bottle, writing utensil, prayer journal (pick up at church). 

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