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Bigs, Littles caching in on it





With map in hand, geocachers at the Big Brothers Big Sisters J.T. VonLintel Outdoor Mentoring event combed East Frontier Park on Sunday looking for a certain color of poker chip.

Geocaching usually requires using GPS tracking, but the youngsters used maps instead to hunt for the hidden cache, said Mike Nyhoff, regional public lands supervisor of Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism.

"It's something fun they've never done before," said Mariah Stortzum, a Fort Hays State University Leadership Studies student.

The leadership team, "Littles on the Land," organized the event and hid different colored poker chips throughout the park.

Each team of youngsters and their big brothers and sisters was charged with using a map to find their color of chips.

It's an outdoor activity the FHSU students and youngsters can enjoy, since few FHSU students hunt or fish, Nyhoff said.

VonLintel died Oct. 20, 2010, in Australia at age 21, and the program recognizes his love of outdoors.

"His parents, John and Robbie (VonLintel), started the program in his honor," said Nancy Jeter, executive director of BBBS of Ellis County.

The goal is to get "kids out of the house and away from video games."

Nyhoff said he hopes the children remember the program when they grow up and "start up an outdoor activity."

"J.T. would be very proud," Robbie VonLintel said. "He would have loved geocaching."

The outdoor mentoring program also includes a dove hunt and Larks day where youngsters get to spend time with Hays summer-collegiate baseball team.

It's a good way to recruit Big Brothers and Big Sisters who want to share their enthusiasm for the outdoors.

"If there's a guy out there who likes to hunt or fish, we've got a (young) guy who'd love to go with him," Jeter said.

After a lunch of chili and soup, prizes were awarded to the participating teams, and each child received a T-shirt.

For more information about the J. T. VonLintel Outdoor Mentoring Program or to donate to the program, go to ellis.kansasbigs.org.