Geocaching is an amazingly entertaining activity you can do with the whole family, while learning to work together and exploring nature together. Pretty awesome sneaky learning, if you ask me!
A few summers ago, I didn’t have alot of extra money but I wanted to do something fun with the kids. So I did what every good mom does… I asked Google! I think I put in “free activities to do with your kids,” or something like that. And lo and behold, after a few minutes (or hours… I don’t really remember,) I came across something called Geocaching.
Now I had heard a little bit about geocaching, but I didn’t figure there was any possibility of there being any hidden treasures in our very rural area. And I figured it was probably really hard to do. But I thought I should probably check it out. So I downloaded the handy, dandy app, and got to searching. And amazingly, there was more than 500 caches near our home.
Now, although I have never been that great at geography, I do have a rudimentary knowledge of longitude and latitude; but it took us FOREVER to find that first cache. We climbed all over the hillside before we finally found it more than an hour later – inside the guardrail across the parking lot from where we were searching.
What is Geocaching?
Geocaching is a real world treasure hunting game where you use GPS coordinates to find the treasure.
It’s actually really fun, and my kids love the idea of a treasure hunt! And I love that we are getting outside and learning a little bit about how the GPS coordinates work.
The app makes it much easier to find the coordinates in my experience. It has a map with dots that show where caches are hidden. When you choose a cache to find, the app beeps when you are getting close.
Is it hard to find geocaches?
Some caches are harder than others. We have found them within minutes after arriving at our destination, and sometimes it takes a little while. One we found recently was buried under leaves in the end of a log. That one took a few minutes of searching before we found it. Some caches have riddles to solve or multiple steps to make them more challenging. Sometimes you are required to hike a few miles to get to the cache location. I heard about one in Washington that is in the middle of a lake, so you have to boat to the location to get it!
Most of the caches we have found, have been places where you can park and find them within just a few minutes. There is one near our home that I really want to do that is a three-mile hike and three different locations, but I have heard the view is amazing. It’s on my bucket list for this summer.
One of the things I love about geocaching is that it takes you to places you might not otherwise stop and enjoy. Like one we found recently was near a scenic overlook. An overlook that I drive past regularly but never stop at because I’m a local. But because we were geocaching there, we took a few minutes to enjoy the view and appreciate the beauty of our area.
Once you find a cache, you are supposed to write your name (or pseudonym) and the date in the log. Most caches have small toys in them to trade if you want. Usually my younger two want to trade for something in the cache, but K and I usually pass on the goodies. We usually go to Dollar Tree and grab a few packages of erasers or other small items to use as trades. No food or candy, obviously.
When you are geocaching, it feels like you are just having fun, but I love it because it’s really sneaky learning. In the midst of the treasure hunt, you are working together toward a goal. And you have to learn a little something about GPS coordinates and longitude and latitude. And you are out in nature, enjoying God’s creation! I can’t think of a better way to learn.
What you need for Geocaching
You actually don’t need much for geocaching. Like I said above, you can use the app to find caches and to help find the coordinates. But if you don’t have a smartphone, you can find the caches on the geocaching web site and use a handheld GPS unit to help find the coordinates. This option might actually be better if you are going to find more remote caches as most phone GPS systems are dependent on having cell phone signal.
Another thing you might need is small prizes if you plan to trade. You can use the small toys that get lost in the bottom of the toy box, or you can buy some dollar store trinkets. It doesn’t have to be much, but you shouldn’t put anything in a cache that would attract animals.
That’s pretty much all you need if you are going to go to park-and-grab locations. If you are going to be hiking to a remote location, obviously you would want to be prepared for a hike, with the proper shoes and plenty of water and snacks, a flashlight, and other hiking essentials.
This is day 4 of our 10 day Summertime Learning Fun Series. I have been having a blast chatting with you guys about the ways you incorporate fun and learning together during the summer! If you haven’t caught the first few days, you can find a list of all of the posts in this series on the main landing page. Also, be sure and visit all of the other great blogs that are part of the 10 day series! I have been checking them out each day, and there are some great tips! So be sure and check them out!
Have you ever gone geocaching? What were your favorite finds?