Cache us outside

Cache us outside

Campus Archaeology (CAP) has always been heavily centered around community engagement. We have several standing outreach events that we participate in every year, such as our annual Apparitions and Archaeology Haunted Campus Tour, Grandparents University, various public-school events, and Archaeology Day at the Michigan History Museum. During COVID, we have been forced to rethink the ways in which we engage with the community to teach the community about what we do as archaeologists, the history of Michigan State University, and CAP.

Now that snow is melting in Michigan and we are seeing signs of warmer days in the near future, we are taking our outreach outside! The limited access to our favorite local businesses due to COVID mandates encourages more people to spend time outside and finding new ways to explore the area. This led us to work on a new project where members of the community could learn about MSU history and past CAP projects through geocaching!

Plastic container partially covered by leaves between moss-covered rocks. Tag on the container reads "Official Geocache"
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Geocaching is advertised as “the world’s largest treasure hunt”. It is a recreational activity that takes you on a pedestrian tour of your own city (or wherever you choose to explore!) by locating GPS points using the Geocaching application on your phone. A geocache is a physical container hidden outside by members of the community and assigned a GPS coordinate with descriptions and details to help users find the geocache. Each geocache has information provided on the level of difficulty, the terrain, and size of the container. The idea is that when the geocache is located, the user will take an item from the container and leave a new item in place of the one they collected. Geocaching is a great way to get outside and be active, see and experience new things, and even teach children navigation skills! Not to mention…this is a great activity that can be done while maintaining social distancing! If you do not want to meet up with friends or family during the pandemic, you can challenge others to complete the same routes and leave items for them to find.

The Geocaching app has a sister app, Adventure Lab, where users create stories or themed tours through GPS locations of physical landmarks. For example, you can find adventures of murals around Lansing and headstone symbolism in Mt. Hope Cemetery. Campus Archaeology will use Adventure Lab to create several themed informative tours based on research and past projects conducted by our organization, such as several histories of MSU campus including BIPOC on MSU campus, women’s history, children on historic campus, stories of buildings that have burned down across campus, science and laboratories, and food ways. We will also create chronological tours of archaeology across campus as well as tours of past field schools hosted by Campus Archaeology. Finally, we will have an adventure for our famous Apparitions and Archaeology Haunted Campus Tour.

The tours will be compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act to ensure accessibility to all our geocache locations and will have a combination of physical landmarks and containers. At each stop, users will be able to read interesting MSU history Some stops will include QR codes to view 3D models of artifacts recovered on campus and even some CAP swag!! We will be rolling out a couple of tours in the coming months so make sure to download the Adventure Lab app and prepare to get some sunshine!

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