Over the weekend, the Fort McAllister State Historic Site hosted the Georgia GeoCampers for a second year in a row.
Geocampers from across the United States gathered for the two-day event of camping, geocaching and touring the historic site. Staff and volunteers helped welcome the campers with activities that allowed everyone to participate.
Georgia GeoCamper coordinator Janet Haskell explained to the newcomers what typically consisted of a geocamping event and how these events began.
“The Georgia branch started about a year ago, with an interest in geocaching throughout the Georgia State Historical Sites and Parks,” she said.
Geocaching is a real-world treasure-hunting game that uses GPS devices. Once registered to the application online or on a smartphone, participants receive coordinates to a location that holds a geocache container. The geocache usually holds a log book to track its finders, but sometimes there are items inside to trade.
“Geocaching gives us an opportunity to travel and see beautiful places within our home state” said Greg and Maggie Mascunana of Savannah. “All you need is a smartphone and some time.”
Greg started geocaching two years before his wife joined in. They claimed that the game can be even more exciting with a partner.
After a day of geocaching, the campers set up a campfire to cook their traditional stone soup. The tradition began last year at Fort McAllister and required everyone to bring an item to add to the soup.
“We really enjoyed making our meals together over the fire, so I thought it would be fitting to do it again this year,” Haskell said.
Normally, historic sites have a specific area for camping. However, the geocampers were allowed to camp on historic grounds next to the banks of the Ogeechee River.
“No site will allow people to actually camp within their grounds. They usually have a camping area a little farther off site, and I am grateful that us geocampers are given this privilege to camp next to history,” Haskell said.
“Last year, they were so respectful and appreciated the environment,” said Sarah Miller, assistant park manager. “It is a marketing tool to preserve the grounds.”
After dinner, McAllister staff member Talley Kirkland led the GeoCampers in a candle-lantern tour over the grounds. He spoke on how the fort was attacked several times in history but “did not fall until 1864, ending Gen. William T. Sherman’s ‘March to the Sea.’”
The campers followed behind holding oil-lit lanterns, similar to those used by the soldiers who once occupied the site. The weekend ended with a group photo and a camp under the stars.
For more information, go to www.facebook.com/GeorgiaGeoCampers.