Geocaching is a worldwide adventure that utilizes a GPS unit or cell phone app to guide you on a real world treasure hunt, according to Spring Larrow special events director at the Challenger Learning Center of Alaska (CLCA). “You have coordinates that tell you where the cache is located. The cache can be any type of container that will have what is called ‘Swag’ and you can leave something and take something and sign the log book that states you have found it and then get on a website for kudos,” explained Larrow at the 3rd Annual Geocache Rally held at the CLCA. For the local rally, which was a sold out event, teams competed to find the most amount of caches and complete the most challenges. “It started as a fun in the wind kind of fluke idea and as far as I know has become the only fund raiser that I have been a part of where people call me and beg to come to the event, folks already have made reservations for next year,” said Larrow adding that the event and auction far exceeded their expectations.
Defending champions, known as “The Whale Tails,” a geocache team comprised of Susan Hills, Sara Beiber and Sarah Covault made it two in row coming in an hour and a half ahead of the second place Team HEA. For their efforts they took home the first place prize which was a tiny geocache and log book located on the back of a penny and a bunch of geocache “Swag.” A fresh team from BP, a big CLCA supporter through the years scooped up third place this year.
At the awards dinner theatre and auction a video greeting from local high school graduate Tess Casswell, who is now part of the NASA space program after graduating from the UAA at Fairbanks told those in attendance why she was pursuing a career in the space program. Casswell explained how it was the CLCA mission as a sixth grader that convinced her to work hard in math and science and gave her the dream for the career she is now proud to be part of. Lt. Governor Mead Treadwell was present at the banquet and said, “It’s a tribute to every dollar that has been invested here to hear Tess’s story of how her journey started here, went to graduate from UAA and after running the safety system on International Space Station is now a grad student at Brown University studying ice on distant planets. To realize that 80,000 kids from all over Alaska have now been through missions here at the Center I have to say kudos to everyone here who has supported CLCA and who will continue to in the future.” Following the successful event Larrow concluded, “A great big galactic thank you to all the folks who came out to support Challenger’s Geocache Rally! All our sponsors and in-kind donors! Odie’s Deli, you have outdone yourself for the third year, thank you for the lunches! A big round of applause for Stellar Designs for our amazing t-shirts! Sackett’s Kenai Grill for the delicious food! Triumvirate Theatre for the hilarious Star Trek spoof written by Joe Rizzo! Floral Designs for our beautiful centerpieces! Kenai River Brewing Company for the brew!! We couldn’t have done it without all of you, so thanks again!”