April 2008
This month, in an interview with Zenpanda, I was able to discuss her association with the MAGC (Military Association of GeoCachers), as well as some of her thoughts on geocaching in Montana. 
As the Point Of Contact for the Rocky Mountain Geocachers chapter of the MAGC, it seems appropriate that Zenpanda resides in Great Falls, the only city in Montana with an active-duty military base. Beyond her duties to the MAGC, Zenpanda is also a prior-service member, an elementary teacher, a mother, and spouse of an active duty airman.

"What got you involved with geocaching?"
I first learned about geocaching from the TV show "Law & Oder: Criminal Intent" around November 2005. I did an internet search after the show aired and signed up on geocaching.com immediately! Using Google Earth, I was able to search for, and ultimately find a cache just 200 feet from my house. My husband surprised me that Christmas with a GPS! In January 2006 I found 20+ caches and lost 15 pounds! (added bonus there).

"How did you decide on your geocaching name, and is there any special meaning to it?"
My caching name came from trying to mix my beliefs with my childhood nickname. I am a Buddhist thus the "Zen". Growing up my family called me 'AndyPanda' thus the "panda."

"Are there any certain types of geocaches that you prefer to Find or Hide?"
I have tried to keep an open mind about the type of caches that I hunt. Truthfully, I was intimidated by micros and nanos until I found a few. I love the large caches for the trading opportunites, but the hunt is the biggest thrill for me.

"Can you tell me a little more about what it's like to geocache in and around Great Falls? Are there any geocaches that you'd highly recommend to out-of-towners?"
Great Falls has an eclectic collection of caches. There were some awesome hides, which have been archived in the last few months. I recommend all the caches along the River's Edge Trail and in West Bankpark- these areas are the most beautiful in Great Falls.

"According to the MAGC Homepage, the organization is a non-profit, 'Geocaching group of Military members, their families, Retirees,Honorably discharged Vets and those who desire to support the troops.' Is membership open to anyone? How would one go about joining the MAGC?"
Membership is open to everyone. Joining is easy- you sign up on the MAGC website.

"What is your personal association to the US Armed Forces?"
I served four years as a Security Police Specialist, and have been a spouse of an Active Duty Airmen for many years. My son served in the Army as well. I was fortunate enough to have been stationed with my husband at Spagdahlem AB, Germany from 1987-1990, my daughter was born there. My son was stationed in Alaska in 2006.

"Have you found that most members who join MAGC are former military, spouses, or just supporters of the military?"
The majority of MAGC cachers I have had interaction with have been Active duty or retired.

"There seem to be nearly 32 chapters of MAGC around the world, including one from Canada, Japan, Korea, the UK, Southwest Asia, The Hashimite Kingdom of Jordan and the State of Palestine, and Germany. Can you provide some more information on the local 'Rocky Mountain Geocachers' chapter? Are there scheduled meets or geocaching trips? Do the members tend to gather for military activites or ceremonies?"
I have only been a member of MAGC since August 2007 and have found it very hard to recruit members. I have tried to email, talk to and seekout any geocacher who is, or has been, associated with the military. I would like to have an event this Summer for any MAGC members, but also to recruit some new members; of course I wouldn't limit it, all would be invited - the more the merrier! Ideally quarterly meetings for the Rocky Mountain Geocachers Chapter would start shortly after.

I'd like to thank Zenpanda for agreeing to do this interview, and I encourage anyone interested to visit the MAGC homepage.

The MAGC (Military Association of GeoCachers) is a non-profit organization that desires to share the fun of geocaching with likeminded individuals, aide service members new to an area from a PCS in learning their new home and giving them a chance to meet local cachers, help service members that are TDY “find” some of the local caches, as well as give the single Soldier, Sailor, Airman and Marine off duty time with an “extended military family”. Anyone may join, and all are encouraged to help.

Military Association of GeoCachers

Serving Proudly

In Montana, contact our representative of the MAGC; Zenpanda.