When Heather Gregory couldn't find any children's books on geocaching to help with a presentation she was to give at a local preschool, she wrote her own story starring her son Ben.
It was so good, the preschool teacher suggested she turn it into a book.
Two years later, Gregory, a Mount Gallant Elementary art teacher, is celebrating the release of "Ben and the Geocache Treasure," a 28-page children's book available for $9.99 through Tate Publishing.
In the story, 7-year-old Ben discovers a hidden treasure, or "cache," then gets some help from his mom as he researches its origins online. He learns about the popular hobby and, as the back cover puts it, "discovers that adventure, treasure and secrets don't have to be fictional."
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Gregory said she wrote it to introduce children to the high-tech hunting game and entice them to explore.
"I mean, you're hunting for treasure in the woods," she said. "I haven't met a kid yet that hasn't just loved it."
Geocachers use GPS devices to find hidden containers usually filled with inexpensive trinkets such as coins and small toys. They can take an object so long as they leave one of equal value. Some containers contain a Travel Bug, which can be tracked online.
The adventures take place outdoors, and geocachers often share experiences at www.geocaching.com.
The game first emerged on a small scale in 2000 after global positioning signals available to civilians were upgraded, making GPS devices more accurate.
Thanks to widely available technology such as smart phone apps, the game has become a family-friendly outing and spread across the world.
Heather Gregory came across geocaching about two years ago when she was searching for activities that tied into Ben's passion for Indiana Jones movies.
When she learned about the treasure hunting game, "I thought 'Ooh, technology. Right up his alley.'" After their first outing, "he was hooked."
Gregory was surprised by the dearth of children's literature about geocaching.
"We looked everywhere," she said. "There was nothing."
She hopes that bodes well for her book, which went on sale this month.
After struggling to get large publishers to take the book, Gregory went to Tate Publishing, which specializes in books by first-time authors. She was steered toward Tate by Jeryl Christmas, a fourth-grade teacher at Lesslie Elementary who published her first book through the company.
Christmas' book, "The Alphabugs," is "a rhyming adventure of humor, education, and an all-around good time." Christmas is working on a sequel to the book, which has been on sale since last year.
Gregory hopes to write a sequel also, but for now she's focused on teaching and spreading the word about "Ben and the Geocache Treasure."
For details or to buy "Ben and the Geocache Treasure" by Heather Gregory or "Alphabugs" by Jeryl Christmas, visit www.tatepublishing.com.
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