History buffs can participate in a hands-on lesson July 23, when the Oconomowoc Area Historical Tour kicks off at the Oconomowoc Area Historical Society & Museum (OAHSM).
This geocaching event highlights local history through 25 hidden caches that teams track down using handheld GPS devices or smartphones. Players receive not only coordinates to home in on the prize but also descriptions about each place's past.
"It's a free community event, and, if people don't know about geocaching, we'll teach them how to do it," says event mastermind Laurie Muffler.
Muffler, a volunteer who sits on the museum's board of directors, has been researching sites since last year's inaugural tour. She delights in reading century-old newspapers and uncovering photos in the museum archives. "I find one thing after another; it's incredible," she says.
How to play
A team earns one point for each cache it finds and receives a trackable, collectible coin after 25 points. Players who opt out of more difficult caches can patronize event-sponsor restaurants to earn their points instead.
Last year's event drew 80 teams - more than 225 people - from 33 communities for its kickoff. Only seven teams found all 25 caches that day; most teams took a few weeks to complete the task.
This year's tour will involve even more unique cache containers, puzzles to be solved, and either a kayak or canoe to reach one particular hiding spot. "The goal is to challenge everyone, including seasoned geocachers," says Muffler.
Teams should preregister online at Geocaching.com and plan to attend the kickoff at the OAHSM, where they will receive their booklets and coordinates. Sites in Oconomowoc, Okauchee, Mapleton, Monterey and Summit are featured this year.
"Getting to know this community is the best part," says Muffler. "Not only stumbling upon pieces of history but meeting the sponsors and people today," she adds.