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  • Emily Murphy, CPSM, MA

5 Ways Geocaching Can Improve Your Staff

A world-wide phenomenon, geocaching is a treasure hunt in which participants use GPS coordinates to find hidden caches. As an engineering firm, geocaching seemed like the perfect organizational activity, pairing technical skills with technology. Through a two-hour race on a hot July afternoon, I learned that there is more to geocaching than a simple map and treasure. Below are the five ways in which I believe geocaching can improve your staff: 1. It encourages team building For our Calibre geocaching event, we split participants into teams of 3 or 4. Doing so encouraged interaction between staff members, regardless of title or position in the firm. We put principals with junior engineers, and we paired people who do not always have the opportunity to work together. This built new relationships and strengthened existing relationships. Further, the geocaching encouraged people to work together as a team. Our geocaching event utilized both a mapping application and a compass, which required one person to hold the map and one to hold the compass. Other team members were lookouts or scouts. This format encouraged people to practice communication skills and to learn how to work together as a functional unit. 2. It teaches staff to read GPS coordinates Working in the engineering industry, learning how to read GPS coordinates is essential. It helps with mapping skills and planning skills, and it helps our staff understand blue prints, maps, and AutoCAD. Further, through this geocaching exercise, our staff also practiced using their compasses, a skill that comes in handy living in a state like Colorado. Both tools improved critical thinking, site planning, and mathematical skills. Afraid of getting lost on a mountain hike, or looking to quicken your Google Earth skills, or having trouble “seeing” the grading lines on your AutoCAD drawing? Take a look at geocaching. 3. It hones problem solving skills When our teams initially started out on their geocaching adventure, they were given minimal instruction on utilization of the GPS application and compass. They were also given minimal instruction in terms of what the geocaches looked like. This limited information allowed our staff to practice their problem solving skills, working together to determine the optimal way to use the tools at hand to execute the task at hand. In addition, some of our team members utilized an Android app, while others utilized an iPhone app, and some of the geocaches were across fields, while others where across bridges. Our staff figured out how to use their applications and the best routes to get to each geocache. They also assigned responsibilities and learned from one geocache to the next, honing their problem solving skills and growing with each cache. 4. It identifies natural leaders for future development While out on the trail, teams naturally fell into roles. There were leaders, there were scouts, there were technical experts, and there were cheerleaders. Dividing the staff into teams allowed our management team to see the natural skill and comfort level of each employee. This is extremely valuable when it comes to recognizing leadership qualities in quiet team members or witnessing how certain staff can motivate other staff members. Looking to identify the natural leaders or cheerleaders in your firm? Geocaching might be a solid option. 5. It improves cat-like reflexes to respond to wildlife While geocaching, you’re bound to run into wildlife. One of our teams specifically greeted a slow-but-steady bull snake. Say hello to their team mascot, videoed below.

If you’re looking for an activity for your next corporate team-building event, consider geocaching. - Emily Murphy, CPSM, MA

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