Last Chance to Reserve Your Seat for Upcoming PA Wilds Geocaching Conf.

Time is short to register for the Planning Team’s 2nd Annual Trails Conference, Cashing-In on Geocaching to be held Nov. 5. Lyn Pilch, whose Madison, Wisconsin-based public relations firm has worked with more than 100 tourism destinations around the country, will be the keynote speaker at this year’s conference. The event will focus on how trail groups, businesses and communities can use geocaching as an economic and community development tool to improve foot traffic to local businesses, raise awareness about trails and historical sites, express conservation and stewardship messages to visitors, and more.

Geocaching is a growing trend in the Pennsylvania Wilds, said Matt Quesenberry, chair of the PA Wilds Planning Team. Already, thousands of people come here to take part in these high tech treasure hunts amid the backdrop of our incredible natural and cultural resources. Several new geocaching events or trails are in the works. The goal behind this trails conference is to give our local businesses, trail groups, chambers and others ideas and information on how they can make this new trend work for them. It will also be a great networking opportunity.

Pilch brings with her 10 years of tourism marketing experience, including promotional work on three successful geocaching trails  two in Wisconsin and another for Experience the Mississippi River, a 10-state coalition that promotes travel and tourism along one of America’s most famous waterways.

Ms. Pilch has worked on geocaching trails in places similarly blessed with the kind of natural beauty and rich history that the Pennsylvania Wilds is known for, Quesenberry said. She can speak to the positive impact this new trend has had on rural areas and offer lessons she’s learned along the way. We’re excited to have her.

The conference will include a short, hands-on demonstration of geocaching; a panel discussion about the economic benefits of this popular activity; information about geocaching on public lands and other rules; and real life insights from groups and businesses that have started their own geocaching trails or events or participated in existing ones to successfully increase awareness about their trails, improve their bottom lines and boost local economies. A detailed agenda is available at www.pawildsresources.org.

Panelists will include expert volunteers from Groundspeak (the organization that oversees most geocaching trails in the United States and abroad); PA Department of Conservation and Natural Resources; Allegheny GeoTrail; PA Wilds Tourism Marketing Corporation; Geowoodstock 2011; and other organizations and private businesses.A GPS unit and other items will be given away as door prizes during the conference. Every participant will receive a geocaching ammo box stocked with useful handouts, a t-shirt, keepsake geo coins and other materials. The day will conclude with a short geocaching event outside at the golf course, where participants can try their hand at the activity.

The conference, made possible from a Growing Greener Community Conservation and Partnerships Grant from PA DCNR, will be held Friday, Nov. 5 from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at the Emporium Country Club in Cameron County. Tourism business owners, event coordinators, community leaders and trail groups are encouraged to attend. Admission is $20, which includes a continental breakfast and lunch. Seating is limited to the first 100 people to register and pay.

For questions or to register, go to www.pawildsresources.org or contact Val Shelley at (814) 486-0213 or vshelley@lumberheritage.org.


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