Go Riding Writer Uses Facebook to Find Camera Owners 450 kms Away
For me this year’s Thanksgiving weekend was one of warm weather, brilliant fall colors, and four days off to enjoy it. The days leading up to the break had me flip flopping between two of my outdoor passions, ATV riding, and camping. With my wife working part of the weekend my thoughts leaned towards camping, as my youngest daughter Abigail is 9, and while she is a skilled ATV rider, she is simply not big enough to handle even our 250 Polaris Trail Boss on the types of trails that we would be riding.
My two daughters (my eldest Paige is 12) and I packed the camper, went shopping, and picked up my nephew Gavin in Collingwood before we were on our way. We chose a nearby campground, Craigleith Resort Park just 10 minutes from Collingwood, where my wife would be working, so she could join us whenever possible. The park was clean and sites were large, in fact we almost had the place to ourselves, except for our friends who were camped next to us. Saturday was spent relaxing, and the kids loved exploring the nearby creek and trails when they weren’t riding their bikes.
Sunday was forecasted to be the nicest day of the weekend, so a day trip was planned up in to the Beaver Valley, an area quite familiar to me as I love to ride the Dufferin Grey ATV Club’s Trails there. After a scenic drive up the Beaver Valley and along the Lower Valley Road that follows the Beaver River, and further upstream the Boyne River as it joins, we stopped for a short hike in to one of the area’s well known and easily accessible waterfalls, Hoggs Falls. The kids being the adventurous types wanted to explore the bottom of the falls, a climb not for the faint of heart down a steep embankment. I went first, and then coached each of the kids down, pointing out which root or rock to hang on to, and where to put their feet.
After reaching the bottom we headed for the falls, with Abigail leading. As she carefully shimmied against the rock wall to avoid getting her feet wet she shouted at me “Dad! There’s a camera in the water!” She plucked it from the shallow water at the edge and handed me a newer Canon Digital Camera quite wet, dirty, and damaged. Being the same color as the river rocks it amazes me that she spotted it, and I commended her for her “Eagle Eyes”. Immediately I imagined how upset the owner of the camera must have been, not only losing an expensive bit of gear, but goodness knows how many irreplaceable images. The kids continued to explore the falls, as I took a few pictures of my own, all the while thinking, what if I dropped and lost MY CAMERA, I certainly would want who ever found it to try to get it back to me.
Upon returning to the camper I sent the kids off to play and I pulled out my laptop, hoping that the data on the card had survived the fall and the water, and furthermore that I might find something in a photo that would lead me to the owners. After viewing a multitude of fantastic shots of the Beaver Valley, and the surrounding area I came to the only photo on the entire card that gave me even a glimmer of hope. The owners had obviously attended a wedding, and just happened to take a shot of the reception hall with its easily read sign “Robinsons VFW Post 4642”. A quick Google search found the hall, located in Linden Michigan, almost 450 kms (280 miles) away.
As the Digital Marketing Strategist for Go Riding Magazine and Snow Goer Canada I am quite familiar with social networking, and how viral posts can circumvent the globe and reach thousands of people. My thought was to post a clear photo of the owners from the card, along with a brief synopsis of the situation, and see if Facebook could work in their favor.
The original post at the time of writing this article had reached over 20,000 people, but after the first week and only 1500 views, I had no responses about the owners. I decided to contact a nearby newspaper, as this story was becoming quite intriguing, and the closest one was The Flint Journal. Browsing the list of journalists I chose Dominic Adams as he was from Fenton MI, not far from Linden, and he had a Facebook profile listed on his contact page so I assumed he would understand what I was trying to accomplish.
Dominic was indeed interested and published the initial story about my search. With the Facebook link included in the story I am sure this had a profound impact on the virality of the post. Now we had local Linden Facebook pages sharing the post and the comments from folks in Michigan started pouring in.
Even the Mayor of Linden had posted and contacted me with offers of help, as well as an offer from Bruce Grey Simcoe Tourism to replace the camera as they were quite tickled with all the comments about how friendly folks from Ontario are.
Then it happened, October 24 around 6:00pm my phone alerted me to a comment on my ATVFanatic Facebook Page from a Peggy Lillywhite “I have messaged the original poster, I work with the gentleman.” It only took 12 days for my post to reach someone who knew the camera owners, I was so excited!
The next day I received an email and a Facebook post from the cameras owners, grateful for my perseverance, and looking forward to getting their photos back.
The memory card is now in the mail (with a full back up on my PC just in case) and on its way to Williamston Michigan where the owners I am sure will delight in browsing their photos all the way from the bottom of a waterfalls in Ontario Canada.