Here's the perfect item to add to your troop's equipment list if you do any backpacking, hiking, canoeing, or other high adventure activities - well that should be ALL of you, right? It's the SPOT Messenger satellite tracker and emergency beacon. Our troop owns one and it has been great!
This little unit is a one-way communication device with four outputs:
- OK - press it to send an email or cellphone text message to people letting them know you're doing fine. The message includes your Lat/Lon coordinates.
- HELP - Emails your message that things are not going well, but it's not an emergency.
- 911 - Contacts local emergency support and gets the search-n-rescue process rolling. Only for really bad stuff!
- Tracking - Automatically sends a location message to a database every 10 minutes. This is the really cool part that makes it a great device for scout troops.
Parents of scouts on adventure treks appreciate keeping tabs on our progress while backpacking. The automatic tracking feature allows families to virtually follow us across the country. They just go to a web page and instantly see where we are now.
On our trek through Philmont this summer, we took our SPOT Messenger on its first hardcore test trek. I carried the unit on the top of my backpack the entire 85 miles and recorded every step of the way.
All the parents back home could take a look at our progress any time and our location was automatically updated every 10 minutes.
I've integrated the SPOT tracking, Google Earth, and our own photo album to create an interactive trek - more interesting than a simple photo album. Take a peek at our Philmont Trek with SPOT Messenger - you need Google Earth installed to view the .kmz file it links to.
I have noticed that SPOTs have a $50 rebate going on now so they are $99. There is also an annual service charge which includes an account on their website, the tracking feature, and emergency response insurance.
Next summer, we'll be using our SPOT on our Sea2Sky trek to the Pacific coast as well as our weekend campouts. Having it along for emergencies is good all the time, but whenever we cover a distance by foot, bike, or boat, it's a nice stress reducer for the parents at home.
Posted: 19:13 12-17-2008 382
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