Are you looking for a fun family outdoor activity? Try geocaching with your kids!
Did you know that there are hundreds of tiny treasures hidden all over your town? It’s true!
Three years ago, our family was introduced to geocaching and it quickly became one of our favorite family hobbies. If you are interested in geocaching with your kids, this post will help you get started!
WHAT IS GEOCACHING?
Geocaching is a simple “hide and seek” scavenger hunt that uses GPS coordinates to guide you to a cache hidden in plain sight. Some caches are tiny and hold just a log to sign, while others are much larger and contain treasures (or swag) for trading.
GET STARTED GEOCACHING
To start, you’ll want to download the Geocaching app. The basic level is free, and you will be able to find plenty of caches in your local area. You can use one account for the whole family — or each person with a phone can create their own account.
A map will appear, showing you (blue dot) and the caches that are close by (green circles are the basic level, and grey are the paid level). Click on a green circle to learn more about the cache: its name and description, how far away it is from your location, its difficulty rating and size, and the activity log.
Helpful tip: Before you go searching for a cache, check the activity in the app to see if it’s been found recently. Some caches are removed by well-meaning non-cachers (affectionately referred to as Muggles) or washed away by weather.
Use the navigation tool to guide you to the general location and then start looking. Larger caches are often covered in camouflage, while smaller caches are frequently disguised as real-world objects. If you’re stumped, you can check the hint and activity logs for ideas — tips like look up or specific landmarks to be searching for.
(Can you find the cache in the picture on the left? It’s the screw!
The geocache log is hidden inside this very clever container.)
We keep a pen and pair of tweezers in our adventure backpack. (Sometimes the log is pushed in a little too far, and tweezers or a small screwdriver can help you pull it out.)
Geocaching is a fun, family-friendly activity, but it’s important to keep safety in mind. Wear sturdy shoes and watch out for hidden dangers. Be aware of traffic, critters and insects (especially ticks!), and rocky/muddy terrain. If you’re caching in rural areas, be sure to teach kids to look out for barbed wire/electric fencing.
But you don’t have to be an “outdoorsy” person to geocache! A good number of caches are hidden in parking lots. Just drive up, hop out, and sign the log without being noticed.
BENEFITS OF GEOCACHING WITH YOUR KIDS
We have four very different personalities in our family, and geocaching is fun for all of us. Some of us like searching with our eyes, while others like using the navigating tool on the app. Some are competitive and like to rack up a large number of finds, while others like swapping out swag.
Geocaching has brought us to lots of interesting places and given our kids a fun reason to learn how to read a map, give directions, and work together as a team. We have seen so many fascinating things and found incredibly cool containers along the way.
(On the left: a geocache hidden inside on an old business phone; on the right: a WW2-era steel penny inside the cap of a geocache log)
It’s also a simple way to jazz up an otherwise boring walk. Several of our local parks and trails have handfuls of geocaches hidden along the way, and there are lots in our neighborhood as well. We recently discovered a cache hidden in our friends’ yard, and we didn’t even know they were a geocaching family!
When we are traveling, we like to look for at least one geocache wherever we go — and we’ve even gone out of our way to cross into Michigan, Indiana, and Idaho just to grab a quick cache on our vacations.
We have so many fun memories from our geocaching adventures. If you are looking for something fun to do as a family, you should definitely give it a try!