Earlier this week I realized I forgot to post last Friday. I’m sorry. We have been counting down all summer for the arrival of my niece who is staying with my mom and stepdad for 2 weeks. She and Jamie are 3 months apart and only see each other twice a year so we have been pretty excited that she is just down the street from us now. We have been having a lot of fun showing her all of our favorite summer activities this past week. One thing we hope to do when we go on our family camping trip is geocaching.
If you haven’t heard of geocaching, don’t worry. We only discovered it as a family in 2016, though my husband had been looking into it for a while (since at least 2012) before he thought Jamie was old enough (and interested enough) to try it.
Geocaching is an outdoor activity, kind of like treasure hunting where you use a GPS to locate hidden “caches” left by others. This is actually a world wide activity, so its easy to participate in your own community or when you our exploring other parts of your community, state and beyond. Once you find the cache you sign the log recording your visit and return it to its original location. Some of these caches contain items for trading such as small toys, stickers, and other low value trinkets. Often you are welcome to take one item in exchange for another of equal or greater value. Our favorite fine so far has been a small silver toy soldier, which we put in a safe place when we got home so Buster wouldn’t get it and now can’t remember where that “safe place” was.
Geocaching locations can range from easy to very difficult, and since we do this activity as a family, we try to stay in easy and slightly above that in our searches (think level 1-2 on a 5-point scale). We have still found some caches that require a great deal of searching to find, and as of this posting we still have 2 that we were not able to find (bit of a sore spot for my husband).
You also find the caches on different terrains, and though we tend to stay close to paths, we did search for one or two that took us off into the woods like Red Riding Hood going to her grandmother’s house! You always have to remain vigilant in these instances because there can be wildlife around who isn’t going to understand why you are traveling through their home.
We have found many in our local and neighboring communities and state parks, as well as other random locations. This past Spring we took members of our Cub Scout Den with us on a hike at a state park during a camping trip and the Scouts had a blast searching for treasure, learning about reading a GPS map and basic land navigation from my husband with a few “cool Army tips” thrown in for entertainment.
In April I downloaded the app Geocaching (from Geochaching.com) which shows us cache sites. There is a free (limited) version and a paid version of the app. We can find geocache sites in our area or along routes using this app, then use it as a guide when searching. Once found, we can mark the site successful, make notes and even message the creator of the geocache. Not having another site to compare it to, I have found it to be helpful for our family adventures in Geocaching.
If you have a chance to try this fun, outdoor activity. Its been a grand adventure for us!
Here is more information if you are considering this trip …
Bonus Points for Mom:
- Great way to teach kids about nature
- Kids can have an active involvement in planning a family adventure
- Kids can learn both teamwork skills and competitive sportsmanship in finding caches.
- Great opportunity to teach youth about navigation paper maps, GPS and other land navigation techniques.
- budget-friendly activity for families.
- Activity that can be scheduled to fit any schedule, long or short.
- Geocaching in various states can help teach about various ecosystems within the United States and abroad.