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Pass It On

By Land ~ Sea Discovery Group Staff

I have been involved with hobbies for the past thirty some years, a lifetime to some folks, but for myself I'm just getting up steam. The point of this article is, "What is the future of our hobby, treasure hunting?" Sure, there are all the legal battles for who legally owns what, but the future I am referring to is, INTEREST IN TREASURE HUNTING.

If you have not seen it for yourself, take my word for it that hobbies can die out. Perhaps not completely, but enough that you might be considered a dinosaur someday.

When I was around twelve my folks got me interested in rock collecting. Later it was stamps that piqued my interest and although it was not a collection, I also had baseball cards and comic books. My hobby now is an extension of all that I have learned, treasure hunting. Now, treasure hunting can cover a wide scope of interests, metal detecting, bottle hunting, prospecting, diving, and much more. If you read Lost Treasure or Treasure Facts, odds are you are a treasure hunter or want to be. The interest is there. You either have that interest or want to have it and while we are involved in it we seldom think about what is to come in the future.

Two of America's oldest hobbies are stamps and postcard collecting. In the early 1900's postcards were the rage and passion of the entire country. Stamps also had their hay day, a few times. Today however, if you go to a showing of stamps or postcards, take note of the average age of the collector. With stamps it's probably 60 or 70 years of age and with postcards, 50 or 60. At the last postcard show I went to a few weeks ago, I was amazed to see two ten year olds looking for cards and the next oldest person had to be pushing thirty, probably the children's parents. The average age here was probably 50.

So what has happened here? These hobbies were not passed down to the younger generations. Look at the people involved in our hobby, treasure hunting. What is the median age? Do we have a dying hobby on our hands? I hope not, but if we don't act now ten years from now treasure hunters will be just legends and tall tales.

What can we do? Teach your children! Pass it on to them. Get them involved and take them with you on outings. Not only will they thank you later but also they will probably have a lot of fun.

Look at the long-term success of two hobbies, baseball and comic books. Each year fathers and their sons or daughters go to games or watch them on the television. A new crop of interest is created every year with organizations like Little League, insuring the future of the hobby. Saturday and Sunday mornings little ones are set in front of the tube to watch cartoons or parents pick up comic character videos to entertain them. Cartoons lead to comics and this crop of interested hobby people is replenished.

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So, where do we start? How about books? The first book that got my interest in treasure hunting was Robert Louis Stevenson's Treasure Island. This book can be found in any library or bookstore. At the library of course it's free but if you want the child to have a copy of their own, you can find them for as little as $5.00. There are lots of treasure stories that will interest young boys and girls opening their minds to the possibilities of treasure hunting.

I have a little 24-page book titled Missing Treasure by Adam William's that covers briefly in language a child can understand, 13 different treasure stories. Among them are Inca Gold, Florida Galleons, Cocos Island, The Lost Dutchman's Mine, and the story of Oak Island. During or after reading a book like this to your child or grandchild, get ready for a barrage of questions. Some of which you will not be able to answer yourself probably and so opens another door. Research.

Videos are also available. Did you see The Goonies, Gold Diggers Secret of Bear Mountain, and Huck Finn? The search for treasure fascinates even the youngest of minds.

Even comic books can open the door to treasure hunting. Uncle Scrooge came upon his vast fortune in the Klondike and through the years went on numerous treasure hunting adventures with his nephew Donald Duck and the Junior Woodchucks. Classic Comics reprint the great classics in comic form, like The Gold Bug by Edgar Allen Poe.

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Bits of hand painted pottery become treasures to the young treasure hunter.
(Photo by Jake Brouwer)

How about the old art of story telling? Surely you know one treasure story. Even if it's your own true story of a find it's worth the telling. That first nugget found in your sluice box or how you had the idea to metal detect grandpa's yard and found and old ring would be of great interest to a child. Let them hear your excitement. Let them wonder what it would be like to find a treasure of their own.

Then take them on a hunt. I recently took my six-year-old grand daughter, Adriana on a trip to a desert dumpsite. Just the fact that we asked her to come with us was enough to please her, but when she asked where we were going and the reply came back "a dump" she got a very quizzical look on her face. We explained we were going to look for treasures at an old dump and our excitement of anticipation seemed to flow directly into her.

The morning we left we dressed her in boots, jeans, sweatshirt, and gloves explaining that this would be a dirty job. We told her of the broken glass, the holes, and the dangers we might encounter. "It's important to stay right with us Adriana at least until you understand the dangers and learn how to be careful." I told her. "OK Grandpa." She said agreeing to our terms.

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"Grandpa, it's just a bunch of old trash!" Said six year old Adriana.
(Photo by Jake Brouwer)
When we got to the site Adriana said, "Grandpa, it's just a bunch of old trash!" "Just you watch and we'll turn this trash to treasure." I told her. I found a spot I wanted to dig and cleared away a spot for Adriana to sit. Then slowly I showed her the broken glass, the sharp edges on tin cans, and the holes a person could trip and fall into.

As I dug into the hole I showed her the little treasures that popped out. A beautiful piece of hand painted pottery, an old spark plug, and finally an unbroken Dr. Pepper bottle. As I dug down deeper I would hand her up the treasure for her to examine. She handled them daintily and asked lots of questions. When the hole got really deep she wanted to come into it with me. I widened it and knocked down all the overhangs before letting her in. Then I showed her how to scrape away the dirt to reveal the next treasure. She had a blast. Two weeks prior she went to Disneyland and I swear she had more fun at the dump.

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The bird figure bottle stopper found by the author with his granddaughter, Adriana.
(Photo by Susan Brouwer)

After a bit she started her own hole and collected a whole bucket of treasures. Then I found mine. I let out a whoop that brought Adriana and my wife over to the hole I was in. Although some of the bottles we found may have been more valuable the treasure I just found was unusual and I knew Adriana would appreciate it as being much different from anything else we found that day. It was a glass bottle stopper whose head was in the shape of a bird. We made a big deal of it by posing for pictures and trying to guess its age and value. Afterwards we filled up our holes and headed home. A nice bath topped off the day. That Friday Adriana took some of her finds to Kindergarten show and tell.

Our next trip will be to the East Fork of the San Gabriel River where we will show her the art of prospecting and gold panning. I know several spots I can lead her to find some flecks of gold. I can just imagine the thrill of it now. We will set up a sluice box also so she can see how that works.

I once belonged to a prospecting club called Valley Prospectors whose members go to different grade schools in the area and demonstrate gold panning to the young ones. The club reports at meetings that the kids love the sessions. This coming season Adriana will become involved with scouting and I would love to take them up to the river and teach them how to pan.

Planting a yard with coins and tokens can be a fun first experience with a metal detector for a young person. Soon they will want a detector of their own. Beach combing is exciting also.
Show them the do's and don'ts of the hobby. Take them to treasure hunts, shows, and club meetings. Not only is it their future but ours too.


1. This article is based solely on the professional experiences of the author, a treasure hunter and one time owner of Fun zone a collectables store in Glendora, Ca.

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