Universities are getting creative with virtual offerings. And we want to highlight them! Check out this “Virtual Program Highlight” from the College of Charleston.
In a class Gene Sessoms, the director of Campus Recreation Services, teaches for physical education majors at the College of Charleston, students are taught geocaching.
Defined as an outdoor recreation activity, students use a Global Positioning System receiver or mobile device, as well as other navigational techniques, to hide and seek containers called geocaches at specific locations marked by coordinates. It’s a global game, one that Sessoms likes to tap into with his class.
When the semester was interrupted, Sessoms thought having this activity still on the schedule was convenient since geocaching is something that can be done anywhere in the world. “Using the geocaching.com website, students were told to select two geocaches near their residences and to go find them,” he said. “They were to take a picture showing me they found the location.”
However, there were a few road bumps. These included closed parks, and students occupied with watching siblings not in school and caring for elderly relatives. Sessoms said they didn’t have time to run around looking for something; nor did he want them to get stopped by park police.
“That was frustrating to me as the teacher of the class, but I really believe how great an activity geocaching can be,” he said. “If I can’t get them to get outside, maybe somehow I can bring it to them.”
So, Sessoms did just that. While virtual geocaches existed prior to the pandemic, participants still had to physically go seek out the location and take a selfie there. “I decided to twist that idea into a real virtual geocache,” he said. “The seeker will use satellite views on Google maps, along with its street view, to zero in on the geocache. A couple of questions about the site are posed that should offer proof the correct location was found.”
Although the idea was initially for the classroom setting, Campus Recreation Services has embraced it at the College of Charleston. It gets students “outdoors,” traveling the world and exploring communities near and far. The Virtual Geocache Series has a detailed web page on how to get started.
For those looking to have unique virtual offerings, Sessoms said geocaching is something to consider. “I, along with my other campus recreation colleagues, are looking for activities to be able to offer during this interruption in our regular routines,” said Sessoms. “I knew how easily this class lesson could be adapted for a recreation activity… I have had a whole lot of fun with this. That, after all, is the reason for doing most things.”
Note: If you are interested in contributing virtual caches, here is a Google Doc that can serve as a database.