A Window on Caching
Geocaching Exhibit at Greensfelder County Park
By Paul Konopacki
Feburary 2, 2008
Greensfelder County Park is located north of "Six Flags St. Louis", near Eureka, Missouri. Considered a part of the Ozark mountain foothills, it has shaded trails, equestrian and group camping, picnic sites and shelters, and a learning center. (Google Map)
The park is significant to the St. Louis Area Geocachers Association (SLAGA) not only because there are a number of quality geocaches placed there, but for years the learning center has been the location of the SLAGA Geocaching 101 and GPS receiver training classes. The classes were formed years ago when SLAGA was looking for a place to hold them and the St. Louis County Parks Department was looking for an organization to present them as part of their annual activity catalog.
An Idea is Hatched
One day in 2006, Mary Cranor (geocaching name: Stranger Ranger), a St. Louis County Park ranger stationed at Greensfelder, contacted Richard Sheffold (geocaching name: RGS) to say they were going to remodel the learning center and add new exhibits. She thought it would be a great idea to add an exhibit about geocaching. Rich shared the idea with fellow geocachers to see if he could generate some interest and get a team together to build one. He was hoping to get someone who had woodworking experience or had previously designed exhibits. Unfortunately, there were no takers.
A year later in 2007, the park department's grand plan to remodel the learning center turned into just a few minor upgrades of material and some repainting. Rich still hadn't give up on the idea of a geocaching exhibit. During one of the Geocaching 101 training classes, Rich noticed that there were some other new exhibits being put up on the wall. He decided it was time to act before the spot he had in mind for the geocaching exhibit was taken by something else.
Time to Build
Rich was able to recruit fellow geocacher Dan Baldenweck (geocaching name: Didg Guy) to assist in the project. They set their sites on a section of blank wall in the learning center between to the water fountain and the park brochures.
A big obstacle to starting the project was that the parks department did not give them any parameters to work within, such as size, material or content. They would have to come up with their own vision of what the exhibit would be. They gave themselves an arbitrary $150 budget for materials.
Dan has a big woodworking shop at his house. Through a job association, he was able to aquire oak from a hard wood supplier at the wholesale cost of $25. This would be used for the cabinet. They needed to find transparent material for the front of the exhibit. Safety glass was too heavy and expensive. Plexiglas was readily available in 1/8th" thickness, but was not sturdy enough for use in the exhibit.
Mike Miesner (geocaching name: mmeese) enters the picture. Mike works on sales and purchasing for County Blue Reprographics. Rich had an association with Mike on a previous project to supply color maps for the 2007 MOGA geocaching event. One of the things that Rich wanted to do for this project was have some geocaching brochures available next to the exhibit. He contacted Mike to inquire the cost of an order for 500 2-sided black & white brochures. Mike said they could be produced for $25, a much better price than Kinko's. (To show you what a nice guy Mike is, he covered the cost of the printing, himself!)
When Rich stopped by to pick up the brochures, he happened to ask Mike if his business supplied Plexiglas. It sure does! Rich was able to get a 1/4" thick 3ft x 4ft piece for about $25. Once the Plexiglas was cut to size, Dan could put the finishing touches on the cabinet to allow the Plexiglas to slide into his routed grooves. Access to the content of the display would be made secure by a lock attached to the edge of the cabinet where the Plexiglas slides in.
What to Put Inside?
It was time to decide what would be put inside the display. They used pictures of local geocachers on geocache hunts, topographical maps, cache containers, samples of signature items and trinkets. Travel bugs and geocoins were placed inside the exhibit on a glass shelf, facing outward for people to see (and to "discover" via geocaching.com). One item that Rich thought would be a good addition was a GPS. He called up the sales department at Garmin and explained the project. A few days later he received an empty Garmin "yellow" case in the mail.
Ready to Install
On September 9, 2007, Rich and Dan took the display to the learning center and mounted it in its current location. After a few days, then encountered a minor problem where the pictures were not sticking to the burlap material. They tried foam board, but the contact cement did not work well with that material, either. The permanent solution was to use thumb tacks to attach the foam board to the particle board backing. The reaction to the display by the park department has been very positive. Mary Cranor has taken park rangers by to see the display and they have been impressed.
Total cost of the project was $90. SLAGA paid for the cost out of its treasury.
Visit and Log a Cache
Need an incentive to visit the exhibit? There is a loggable geocaching.com cache within arms reach of it: A Window on Caching