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      Panhandle Spirit: Finding hidden treasures all over the world by geocaching

      Geocaching is modern day treasure hunting with GPS technology

      If you've always dreamed of hunting for hidden treasure, you can do that, almost literally in your own back yard. In fact, you can combine a great outdoor activity and even get a little exercise while treasure hunting.and basically all do this for no or little cost, then you're about to winter the world of geo-caching.

      No matter where you look...in just about any direction and while you may not realize it, you're probably seeing some treasure. Keep looking, because it's hidden. Around the city of Amarillo alone, there are about 15-hundred verified caches out there, tucked away away just waiting for you to find them.

      All it takes is a global position system device or even the free software you can download on a smart phone to get you started. on different websites, the GPS coordinates are entered and you're off to find your caches.

      Some have little prizes, some have a log for you to sign, while others contain a travel bug... which is an item that you're encouraged to take along with you and help propel it around the globe or to a desired location.

      Out at Boys Ranch, you can find Kale Dabling, who works in the adventure program, and they're using geocache as part of a wilderness teaching tool.

      "We are creating a trail system, miles and miles which I get to cut--lucky me-- and we're going to put in a bunch of geocaches on them, and different types. Ones where you have to go to multiple sites and solve riddles, ones where you just go to the straight to the cache and you're done, and some that need a special GPS," says Kale Dabling.

      Kale has geocached all over the globe, including being a coveted first to find member and spends a lot of his spare time searching for the hidden gems everywhere he goes.

      And he's an unofficial spokesperson when it comes to getting people involved.

      "Most of them in general are easy. When you go to the website they are labeled how hard they are. What makes it fun is some of them are close together. When I lived in Maine, we'd go out and find one, and the next one would just be a quarter mile away and then the next one would only be a half a mile away and so we'd keep going. So, you'd walk five miles in the middle of nowhere and that's pretty cool."

      There are a couple of caches out at Boys Ranch and most of them can be found in public locations that are easily accessible. All you have to do is sign up online, get the GPS equipment or download it, though it's often not extremely precise, and start searching.

      "Anyone can do it. When you find the cache, you're asked to sign the log book, and the swag (prizes) is just a bonus. You leave stuff and you take stuff. And if you do leave something, it needs to be of equal or greater value.

      There are a number of websites that charge little or nothing to join and get you started geocaching. check out the most popular page at http://www.geocaching.com/