Geocaching. Have you heard of it? Of course you have. Have you tried it yet? Possibly. I’m newer to the geocaching scene but have fallen in love with how much fun it can be- especially with kids. What is geocaching? Think of it like a treasure hunt but using handheld GPS units or your iPhone. The treasures are all sized containers that may be camouflaged to blend into their surroundings. Some are in locations you pass every day, others take you off the beaten path into a whole new world. Inside the cache, there will be a at least a logbook to sign and sometimes the larger caches are filled with inexpensive trinkets for trade (think: bouncy balls, stickers, Happy Meal toys, etc). There are over a million caches world wide and probably a ton near your house right now!
Geocaching is fun to do with kids for lots of reasons:
1. It gets them outside– which is always a good thing!
2. It gives them a reason to be outside. This may sound strange, but as kids get older, sometimes they can’t use their imagination as much as they could when they were little and they get BORED easily. With geocaching, they have a reason, a purpose for their adventure.
3. It’s just that: an adventure! Geocaching is truly like a modern day treasure hunt. No matter what the cache looks like, most kids are thrilled just to find it and say they did!
4. It combines technology, nature, brainpower and adventure all in a “cool” way, so even older tweens or teens would think it was fun and it can be done as a family or with friends.
We love to geocache when we are going for a hike or even just something to do when we don’t have any plans and want something exciting to do. It’s practically free entertainment too. You can hike the forest, desert, mountains, park, trail or even in urban areas too. It’s something fun to check out when you are heading to a new place and want to add some caches to your “log”.
Ok, so like I said, we are fairly new to the geocaching scene. I have friends that have been doing this for years and much of an expert than I am, but thankfully it’s something that’s easy to learn and do, no matter how old you are! To geocache you only need a few things: yourself, your phone, a pen, some treasures to trade and a place to go! Yup, that’s all. In the past, you would need GPS things but now you can just buy the Geocaching app and use that. Here are the basics of what you need to know:
1. Head to your app store on your phone and buy the Geocaching app- now there is a free version but it offers you very little caches. To get the full caches, you’l need to buy a subscription, either for three months or a year. It’s only $9.99 for three months, so it’s pretty cheap compared to a lot of activities! Once you have downloaded the app and registered, you are good to go.
2. Once you open the app, you will need to turn on your location device (I set my settings to use my location only when using the app) and then you will see a little blue dot, which is where you are. The green dots are all the caches near you.
3. Once you are ready to hunt, you can click on a green dot and it’ll give you more information about the cache: the name of it, how hard it is to find it, what size it is and usually a clue, if you get stuck. When you are ready, you click “start” and your phone will begin navigating to it. As you get closer, it will tell you how far away you are and you’ll hear a bell when you get within 30 feet of it. Then the hunt it on!
4. This is the part that is fun: the looking. You have to scour high and low and search and search. Sometimes you find them and other times you don’t. It’s definitely a bummer when you can’t find one, especially with kids, but most are easy enough to find if you look hard enough.
5. Once you find it, there is a log book in side (or even a teeny roll of paper) and you can sign your name and date it so the next people will know when it was found last! You can log it on the app too or if you can’t find it, you can log DNF (did not find).
6. Have your kids bring some little treasures because often there are some inside and you can swap them out or trade for something new. Keep them small though because they are usually teeny.
7. Once you find one, you are ready to look for another!
We really love Geocaching and think it’s such a fun way to spend a few hours outside in nature. The kids think it’s the best and can’t wait to look for more. It’s so simple and exciting and perfect for kids of all ages. So the next time you’re kids say “I’M BORED!”, turn off those video games, download the app and head on out! I think they’ll love it!