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Walter Birkenheier, Sasebo Naval Base’s Sailing and Outdoor Recreation Center manager, displays the contents of a cache like the nine he’s already placed in locations around Kyushu. The boxes contain a logbook, pencil, key chain and stash notes inside. When geocache players find the cache, they register in the logbook, leave a note, add to the cache and replace it for another player to find using a GPS device, such as the one Birkenheier is holding.
Walter Birkenheier, Sasebo Naval Base’s Sailing and Outdoor Recreation Center manager, displays the contents of a cache like the nine he’s already placed in locations around Kyushu. The boxes contain a logbook, pencil, key chain and stash notes inside. When geocache players find the cache, they register in the logbook, leave a note, add to the cache and replace it for another player to find using a GPS device, such as the one Birkenheier is holding. (Greg Tyler / S&S)

SASEBO NAVAL BASE, Japan — A workshop here will provide instructions for geocaching, a growing high-tech activity in which participants use Global Positioning System units to track down a box filled with little treasures.

The half-hour workshop begins at 4:30 p.m. March 30 at Morale, Welfare and Recreation’s Sailing and Outdoor Adventure Center, said Walter Birkenheier, adventure center manager.

The activity has several variations, but in general a geocacher, armed with a GPS unit, uses coordinates given on a Web site or by word of mouth to find a container (the “cache”). The cache typically is a weatherproof box containing a logbook and pencil, and sometimes also messages and other basic nonperishable items. Once a cache is found, the visitor is asked to update the logbook and perhaps add a message or a new item.

The game can be learned, he said, “if you spend enough time on the Web site. However, it’s really better to attend a session like this, see what’s involved and learn from people who’ve played some.”

On Thursday afternoon, the Web site, www.geocaching.com, listed more than 400 caches waiting to be found in Japan.

GPS units cost about $90 and up, he said, but the center rents units for $2 a day. Beyond that, there’s no gear required or fees charged.

“It’s all about getting outdoors and is often attractive to people not usually inclined toward outdoor recreation,” Birkenheier said. “It rocks.”

Call Birkenheier at DSN 252-3500 for more information.

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