By NICHOLAS C. STERN
The Frederick News-Post
BRUNSWICK, Md. (AP) — Imagine a scavenger hunt where you search for clues with the aid of multimillion-dollar satellites instead of paper maps.
That’s the simple explanation Chuck Sporer uses to describe geocaching.
Brunswick, Burkittsville, and other cities and towns across Frederick County and the state began participating Jan. 5 in the Maryland Municipal League’s second geocache treasure hunt dubbed Discover Maryland.
An avid geocacher, Sporer, whose geocache handle is sircurly — in honor of a favorite dog who died — helped Brunswick and Burkittsville set up their geocaches to be included with 47 other sites statewide.
Participants can use any device that operates a GPS system to find the caches, which are typically plastic boxes. They may be empty or contain trinkets donated by the respective municipality. Brunswick is handing out coin-sized commemorative path tags bearing the city’s new brand to those who find its caches.
The first 200 people who find two caches from each of the state’s 10 districts — Frederick County is District 6 — will win a trackable, commemorative coin minted by the league, said Susan Kelley, trail organizer and Maryland Geocache Society spokeswoman.
Each town can also set up additional sites, as Brunswick has done.
Kimberly Mezzanotte, development review coordinator for Brunswick, said geocachers on the hunt have already explored some of the city’s shops and cafes.
“It’s serving its purpose,” she said.
The league set up the nation’s first statewide geocache trail in 2009 as a way to promote tourism and economic development.
“It gets people off the interstate and into these little towns to see what they have to offer,” Kelley said.
The project was so successful, other states, including Georgia, started their own geocache trails.
“I think it’s a pat on the back for a job well done,” Kelley said.
That first trail was closed and archived in 2011, Kelley said. The new one could continue indefinitely.
Within a week of its opening, more than 3,400 people from up and down the Eastern Seaboard had logged in to find caches, she said. At least 326 finds have been logged in Frederick County. And about 25 coins have already been given to people who have completed the trail.
Kelley, who lives in Calvert County, said she started geocaching in 2004 after hearing a radio announcement about finding hidden treasures across Maryland.
She logged onto geocaching.com, found a cache near her house and was hooked.
“I like the adventure of it all, being outdoors, finding hidden caches,” she said. “It takes you to different, unique places.”
Sporer said he stumbled on geocaching about four years ago after he bought a GPS to do some mapping for a friend.
Like Kelley, he found a cache close to his home and never looked back.
Sporer’s geocaching adventures have taken him from Garrett County to Ocean City, and across 14 states, he said. He has even passed on coins that have been tracked through Europe.
“One thing I really like,” he said, “you can be taken to parts of the state or places you didn’t know existed.”
(Copyright 2013 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)