Geocaching is a great way to teach your kids about all the great things you can find outdoors. It’s basically a treasure hunt but with a little technological flair added in. The military and Boy Scouts have been doing their own version of geocaching for years, but now there are so many people who are enjoying this fun activity.
First off, you might be asking what exactly is Geocaching? It’s simple enough. It’s a scavenger hunt that uses GPS devices to find these hidden caches in a variety of locations. The hunts can be a simple as in and around your neighborhood, to something on a grander scale, outdoors and around popular hiking trails.
You might be asking is geocaching safe? Of course it is. It’s no more dangerous than taking your kids out on a hike in nature. The beauty of this is that you are now able to set a purpose for the hike. Many kids enjoy the outdoors, but if you can add a little taste of adventure to that time, you’ll create a love of hiking and exploring in nature that is going to have a positive impact on their lives.
Starting your Geocaching adventure with your kids is relatively easy. There are plenty of hunts that you and your kids can start on today. All you need is a handheld GPS and a semi-decent sense of direction. There are plenty of geocaching specific GPS apps you can download to your phone. Even for those of you who are more directionally challenged, the games are set up so that it is very difficult to get yourself lost. After all, if you can navigate to that obscure corner store market that sells those plums you’ve always heard about, you can get out on the trails and find some swag.
To get started you need to find some caches around you. There are plenty of opportunities to start Geocaching, so there should be no shortages of caches nearby. Many caches are listed by difficulty, so it is important that you check the star rating before you head out and explore. Any cache that has a 1-star rating for the challenge and the surrounding terrain would be the perfect way to introduce your child to Geocaching.
There isn’t really much overhead to taking your kids out Geocaching. All you need is to dress them in some comfortable clothing for the terrain you are planning on hiking. A backpack, some snacks, and some water are really all the essentials that you would need to begin your adventures.
Many caches have small items that you pick up at each cache box. With many of these caches, it is expected that you trade something small when you take an item out of the box. So, you’ll need to grab a few small trinkets that you can leave in the box for the next group. Make sure to check with the organizers of the cache as they will probably have a short list of acceptable items that you can trade.
You’ll also need a first aid kit. After all, you’re hiking and exploring in nature, so the chances of a minor bump or scrape are there. Better to be prepared and not need it then to need it and not be prepared.
Don’t be afraid to bring some other outdoor gear with you as well. While you and your family are exploring you just might run across a fantastic mountain bike trail or fishing hole. Some of these things aren’t necessities, but if you’re planning on heading out for an adventure, then bring your adventure finding gear.
Many more experienced geocachers like to camp as they go out on their hunts. If your family is a camping family, you might want to bring some gear to pitch a tent and stay out under the stars.
All in all, you can just head out with the basics for the day and have a great time with your family.
Some geocaches will even offer rare coins, silver, and even gold. Don’t get into this if you’re planning on getting rich, but just know that there are opportunities abound for any and all skill levels.
Once out on the geocache itself with your kids, it’s a pretty straightforward process. You will use the GPS to get yourself to the location. Most GPS devices will get you within 20 feet or so (give or take) and then it’s up to you to explore the area and find the geocache box. This is where the kids will really enjoy themselves. You might get a little nostalgic yourself and be brought back to a simpler time when adventure was everywhere.
Make sure to pay attention to the actual size of the cache and look for clues as to where it might be hidden. Inside logs and trees, or maybe that pile of rocks that seems just a little bit out of place are all good places to look. Encourage your kids to be thorough in their search. Leave no stone unturned as the saying goes.
Most of all, just have fun. That’s the ultimate goal of geocaching. You will enjoy some quality time with your family and make plenty of memories you will all enjoy for years to come.