Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Treasure Hunt

This past December my friend "Alex" and I went to Georgia to visit some family. It was unseasonably warm, so we were anxious to go outside and did quite frequently. My friend's younger brother "John" was especially eager to go outside because he wanted to go geocaching. Now, before this I had never heard of the term. After several attempts searching misspelled variations of the word on Google, I found their homepage. According to www.geocaching.com, it is a high-tech treasure hunt, worldwide, often played by adventure seekers with GPS systems.

The first thing I think of when someone says "Treasure Hunt" is of pirates standing on some beach with an old map that has dotted lines and a giant X on it (to make it entertaining, imagine Johnny Depp). Never do I think of people dressed in jeans and a heavy coat clambering through the local park clutching a GPS unit (enter a picture of Hugh Jackman here).

Before Christmas, John had only been able to look up caches within about a two-mile radius of his house. He doesn't have his license yet, so the closer to the neighborhood the better. Once we got to Atlanta, though, John had Alex and I at his disposal to drive him around and find new caches. Although he couldn't afford a GPS unit, John would use Google maps; by typing in the coordinates that geocaching.com provided, he could zoom in to the maximum resolution to examine the area and get an idea of where the cache should be before heading off on his bicycle.

Luckily, Santa had been watching and had gotten him a GPS system. John was thrilled and started plugging in the coordinates for new caches farther away from the house. We would drive to the area parks and follow the unit to some spot in the woods and .. Nothing. The system beeped a lot, claimed we were on target, but when we followed its directions, it led us nowhere. Eventually, Alex used the built-in GPS on his phone to find the cache. John's unit was off by at least 30 meters every time. In the world of geocaching, that's a big no-no - thirty meters off covers a HUGE amount of ground, especially when you are hunting for something that can smaller than a film canister.

By the time we left Atlanta, I had gained a taste for it. On the long drive back to Virginia, we found a cache in each state to break up the monotony of the trip. It was exciting looking for a pill bottle, ammo box, film canister, or other type of container - each one is different - hidden in a unique location. With geocaching you never really know what exactly you're looking for. All you have is the coordinates and a brief description; it is up to you what you do with them.

Example of a cache. Unfortunately, not all are this big.

When I went back to work the following week, I couldn't help but see the parallels between geocaching and contracting with the government. We knew people had found the caches and completed contracts before, there is proof all around us, but we didn't know where to begin. Sometimes the tools we had didn't lead us to the correct area, leaving us way off the intended mark, feeling around and searching for something we couldn't identify. In time, we developed our 'geosense' - we got the hang of it, learning how to find bids and to contract successfully, but it took some trial and error. Gateway to the Government is a lot like geocaching.com. We let you know when new caches are hidden in your area of expertise, send you the coordinates, and act as guides, giving the tools to give you a higher success rate. Gateway is your GPS unit leading you to government contracting.


  1. Hello Laura,

    I saw your link to your blog at TFCN. I am relatively new to the art of blogging and I must say, I enjoyed both articles that I read and found the one on geocaching particularly interesting. I live on the Island and always love to explore new areas. Thanks for the info!

    Jason Herbstman

  2. Anytime! =) Come back often, we update quite frequently.