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Geocachers help Sanctuary One while also learning about local businesses

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Lisa Canon, right, of Medford and Peton Canon, 14, plot waypoints and their route before heading out on a geocaching hunt Saturday in Medford. Photo by Denise Baratta
Medford residents Arron Rabinowitz, right, Lisa Canon, Peyton Canon, 14, and Calvin Canon, 10, look for geocached points in downtown Medford on Saturday. Photo by Denise Baratta
Sanctuary One volunteers Alissa Korth, left, and Breanne Korth, 12, wait to greet treasure hunters with a geocache marker at Scrub Hub in downtown Medford. Photo by Denise Baratta

About 45 people participated in a GPS-aided scavenger hunt Saturday that began outside of the historic Holly Theatre in downtown Medford.

The Grow Your Community Scavenger Hunt was organized jointly by Southern Oregon Geocaching and Sanctuary One. Proceeds are earmarked to help the sanctuary at Double Oak Farm in Jacksonville to continue its farm animal rescue and care efforts, as well as its farm tours and community programs.

Alex and Amanda Smith of Southern Oregon Geocaching and Megan Flowers, executive director of Sanctuary One, set up outside of the theater to welcome the geocachers and answer any of their questions about the itinerary, purpose and other details that might arise during the event.

Alex Smith explained that there are approximately three million geocachers around the globe.

“It’s a worldwide game,” he said.

People use apps on their mobile phones to find games, which are treasure hunts or, sometimes, hide-and-seek using clues provided about the hiders for the seekers. GPS coordinates provide general locations but require some additional legwork to fulfill each task.

Smith said every event his group organizes is an opportunity to add to the number of participants in the community which, in turn, can be an interesting pastime that can be done alone or with a group. And the structure of the group allows members to socialize.

Southern Oregon Geocaching also hosts get-togethers, such as an annual barbecue, along with geocache events.

This scavenger hunt used coordinates to identify the locations where people are asked to visit, then answer questions or fill-in blanks on a passport. There were 21 locations on the event passport around the Medford area, and many are downtown.

Flowers told the geocachers immediately before the start of the event that she was “happy we’ll be able to bring you to these businesses.”

Alex Smith and Flowers said another goal was to provide participants with information about their community, as well as introduce them to a variety of local businesses they might not have known about while keeping things a bit interesting.

One example is this location within N 42 19.585 W 122 52.275. You might know the place around downtown without knowing the name, coordinates or even the piece of information that participants were asked to supply using this description written from the viewpoint of the people operating the business:

“Starting as a food truck and now with a shop in the Theater Alley, we continue to make our ice cream from scratch! We also make ________ and ________ ice cream too! Come in and take a look!”

Sorry, we aren’t going to divulge the name of the business if you can’t guess it. Not all of the geocachers planned on completing the list during the event.

Jessica and Crystal Giles of Ashland started going on geocaching excursions a couple of years ago. Crystal said Alex Smith led a class about it in 2018 that they attended. It has become a regular activity for the pair, who have gone on geocache excursions in Bend, Roseburg and along the coast as well.

“It gets us out and to places we wouldn’t normally go,” said Crystal.

Jessica said the activity also provided her with noticeable health benefits.

“My doctor asked what I’ve been doing,” she said.

The Greenmans of Central Point looked forward to some time spent geocaching. This activity became desirable because there wasn’t much to do once the pandemic began. The family had gone on a couple of geocache journeys before and gave it another try when COVID-19 caused so many activities to grind to a halt.

“Now we do it whenever we can,” said Anielei Greenman, who was with her sisters, Aja and Cosette, as well as their father, Judson Greemman.

“We’re looking forward to exploring Medford,” she said.

Participants were asked to return to the Holly Theatre at 2 p.m. to find out if they won prizes, such as gift baskets or special collector geocoins.

Crystal said they would likely save some of the items on the itinerary for another day because to win something in the drawing required that you be there for it.

To learn more about Southern Oregon Geocaching or Sanctuary One, visit their individual Facebook pages or their websites, sogeo.org and sanctuaryone.org.