Geocaching, an outdoor treasure hunt using hand-held GPS devices, is a fun family activity that continues to grow in popularity.

Want to learn how to participate? The Howard County Conservancy will offer an opportunity on Saturday, Sept. 8 at, 10 a.m., when it presents its free Wonder Walk, "Geocaching: Find Hidden Treasures on the Trail."

The Conservancy requests advance registration for this program at http://www.hcconservancy.org. Indicate if you need to borrow one of the GPS devices that the Conservancy uses for its middle and high school programs or if you will bring your own cell phone or GPS unit.

During the program, volunteer naturalists will assist participants as they seek nature's bounty in a challenging geocaching scavenger hunt. In case of rain, check the website for more information.

The Conservancy also seeks volunteer naturalists to help guide its Fall 2012 field trips, which run during the months of October and November. Volunteers are asked to lead a minimum of three hikes throughout the season.

Training takes place in September — on Tuesdays for the elementary program and on Thursdays for the secondary program, both from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Participants will learn about the history, plant life and wildlife of Howard County, and also about ecology, and they will receive a take-home manual. The cost for materials is $10.

To register or learn more, call 410-465-8877. The Conservancy's address is 10520 Old Frederick Road (Route 99) in Woodstock.

Neighbor Ride, the volunteer-based transportation service for Howard County seniors, continues to grow rapidly and now averages an incredible 1,100-1,200 trips per month.

Of course, an increased demand for rides translates into an increased demand for drivers, so Neighbor Ride needs your help.

Volunteer drivers may choose rides that are convenient to their own schedules and destinations, and they are welcome to include their children. Best of all, they get to help local seniors maintain their independence by transporting them to various appointments, shopping excursions, religious services, volunteer commitments and social gatherings.

If you are interested in assisting or would like to learn more, go to http://www.neighborride.org, or contact volunteer coordinators Rosemary Noble and Patrice Cerwonka at volunteer@neighborride.org or 410-884-7433.

Speaking about driving, Howard County requires student drivers to attend a Safe Driving Presentation before they can obtain a high school parking permit. Marriotts Ridge High School will hold this presentation on Thursday, Sept. 6, at 7 p.m.

Now that school has begun, Back-to-School Night presentations are here, too.

The first in our area will take place at West Friendship Elementary on Wednesday, Sept. 5. Gifted and Talented will kick off the evening at 5:45 p.m., followed by kindergarten through 2nd grade at 6:30 p.m. and 3rd through 5th grade at 7:30 p.m. Call the front office at 410-313-5512 for further information.

Mount View Middle School parents will have an opportunity to meet their students' teachers on Thursday, Sept. 13, at 6:30 p.m., and Marriotts Ridge High School parents can do the same on Wednesday, Sept. 19, at 7 p.m. Call 410-313-5545 with questions about Mount View and 410-313-5568 with questions about Marriotts Ridge.

Finally, Waverly Elementary School will offer three Back-to-School Nights — Thursday, Sept. 27, at 6:30 p.m., for kindergarten and 1st grade, Wednesday, Oct. 3, at 7 p.m., for 2nd and 3rd grades, and Thursday, Oct. 4, at 6:30 p.m., for Gifted and Talented, and at 7 p.m. for 4th and 5th grades. The phone number is 410-313-2819.

September has nearly arrived, bringing with it a full schedule of programs at the Retreat and Conference Center at Bon Secours, as follows:

"Friends Day of Prayer," Wednesday, Sept. 5, 9:30 a.m.-3 p.m.; cost: $30.

"Planting Hope: A Women's Wellness Weekend," from Friday, Sept. 7, at 5 p.m., to Sunday, Sept. 9, at 1 p.m.; cost: $225.

"Keep the Spirit Up — A Day for Job Changers and Career Seekers," Friday, Sept. 14, 9 a.m.-3 p.m.; suggested freewill offering of $15.

"Spiritual Presence for Men," Friday, Sept. 21, at 5 p.m. to Sunday, Sept. 23, at 1 p.m.; cost: $240.

"Institute for Compassionate Presence," Sunday, Sept. 23, at 6 p.m., to Thursday, Sept. 27, at 4 p.m., cost: $800.

"Honoring the Simple Gifts of Life," Friday, Sept. 28, at 5 p.m., to Sunday, Sept. 30, at 1 p.m.; cost: $240.

"Take Time Out, Put Life In: A Workshop on Journaling and Memoirs," Saturday, Sept. 29, 9:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m.; cost: $55.

Go to http://www.rccbonsecours.com for more information about Bon Secours, or call 410-442-1320 to register. The address is 1525 Marriottsville Road, in Marriottsville.