Go, Geoteams!

How environmental activists and business groups are getting into the hunt.

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Trash doesn't pick itself up. And sometimes geocachers exploring the world decide that they're going to do the picking up themselves, even at the top of a mountain in Tanzania (yes, there's a cache there). The practice is called Cache In Trash Out, or CITO (because geocaching is full of acronyms — see "Hidden Meanings" sidebar).

CITO is a simple idea: While geocaching, pick up trash. Since most of the people drawn toward caching appreciate the world around them, it's a concept that makes sense.

"It's kind of like the same motto Boy Scouts use: Leave it better than when you found," says Clearwater cacher Kathi Burgess. "We all just want to share a beautiful place with someone, and I want to make it more beautiful for the next person."

CITO has slowly morphed into an entity separate from "regular" caching, complete with its own events and its own group of cult followers. It also offers cachers a way to beautify their neighborhoods, streets and parks.

Burgess participates in CITO Day, which is held on Earth Day, by hosting CITO events with her husband Dennis.

"One of them we did was in Del Oro Park in Clearwater. I contacted Keep Pinellas Beautiful and they provided the bags and stuff we would need to actually pick up the trash," Burgess said, "The best part is that everyone comes to help."

Like CITO, geoteaming is a variation on the geocaching theme. It's geocaching for the business world.

When geocaching began to gain a following, companies got interested in adapting GPS-powered treasure-hunting for their own purposes. Playtime, Inc., a Seattle-based company dedicated to creating and hosting team-building activities, jumped at the opportunity to provide the service: Hence the birth of geoteaming.

Andrew Gustafson, the director of marketing for the company, says geoteaming programs can be held just about anywhere: conventions, company campuses, local parks. They can be adjusted for groups of five to more than 1,000 and can last a few hours to an entire day. Companies throughout the United States use the service.

On its website, Playtime presents statistics showing that geoteaming can improve teamwork better than traditional techniques. According to Gustafson, the key lies in the fact that geocaching offers a unique way for people to participate in small teams without the pressure of corporate hierarchy, allowing employees to step out of their workplace roles and take leadership into their own hands. He says this allows for better goal retention, and just a better experience over-all.

"We offer experimental learning," Gustafson said. "We allow people to problem-solve and expand outside the realm of their workplace, and the strength they find from that experience, they take back with them, and for much longer."

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