Colin Pennock and Ayla Liss acquaint themselves with a GPS unit.
Colin Pennock and Ayla Liss acquaint themselves with a GPS unit.
The Sheepscot Valley Conservation Association (SVCA) is sponsoring the Sheepscot Scavenger Scramble Challenge, a geocaching contest that will run through September 6. Geocaching offers outdoor excursions, the excitement of treasure hunting and the use of modern technological gadgets.

The gadgets are handheld GPS receivers, which allow users to identify their location on the earth's surface with almost pinpoint accuracy through signals from a system of satellites. Other GPS users, if given the location data, can then find their way to the same spot.

And that suggests how geocaching works. One person travels to some remote location with a container of "treasures" and a logbook, deposits the container in a suitable spot, notes the GPS reading for that spot, later posting the reading to a Web site for others to see and to enter into their own GPS receivers, so they can make their way to the location. Those who then find the container remove a treasure, replace it with something they have brought along, make an entry in the log- book, and put the container back where they found it.

One cache will be placed in each of the seven SVCA preserves: Bass Falls and Trout Brook in Alna, Marsh River and Griggs in Newcastle, Palermo in Palermo, Whitefield Salmon Preserve in Whitefield and Stetser in Jefferson. Participants will need to have a GPS receiver and know how to operate it. GPS devices for automobiles will work, but geocaching veterans say they are not as accurate as the handheld models.

The first to find and log all seven SVCA caches will win a fleece pullover donated by Patagonia. The first to find and log any one of the seven caches will get a certificate for a free SVCA T-shirt (limit of one T-shirt per participant). Find all seven caches during the contest period and get your choice of either a Zanybandz collectible bracelet (36 shapes available) or an SVCA notepad. All prizes can be claimed at the SVCA office at 624 Sheepscot Road in Newcastle.

Those who would like to participate in the Challenge will need a free account with SVCA suggests setting up an account in advance of the challenge start date and searching for some caches in one's local area. Caches can be searched by an address, zip code, area code, state and more.  On Saturday, May 29, the GPS locations of the challenge caches will become available by searching for the keyword "SVCA" from the website.

For more information visit or call the SVCA office at 586-5616.