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April 15, 2011

geocaching with kids

During our recent school holidays, we went on our first geocaching adventure.

What is geocaching?
Geocaching is a worldwide high tech scavenger hunt where you use a GPS to find hidden caches.  The caches are waterproof containers with a logbook and trinkets for swapping.

To play, you register (it’s free) at http://www.geocaching.com/.  Once you are registered you can search for caches to find.  When you find a cache you log your find at the website.

There are over a million geocaches around the world, so it is very likely that there is a cache or two near you.


How I decided which geocache to look for?
The geocaching website allows you to search for the co-ordinates of caches near you.  Each cache listing also includes
  • a description of the cache,
  • information about the size of the cache,
  • difficulty and terrain ratings,
  • and attributes to give you information about what to expect in the cache location. 
There may also be clues and photos of the cache and logs from other people who have found the cache.

Since this was our first geocaching experience and I was going with 4 children I searched for a cache with easy terrain and low difficulty.  Then I looked at the cache attributes to find a cache suitable for children.


What to bring when you go geocaching
Most importantly, you will need a GPS.  This is made pretty easy these days as many people have smartphones (I used my iPhone).  If you are using a phone it might be nice to have the geocaching app (you can find out more at the geocaching website).

Bring a notepad and pencil to record your name in the cache logbook and some small items to swap with the treasure in the cache.

Apart from that dress for walking and being outdoors.  Bring water, hats, sunscreen and insect repellent.  You might also want to bring your camera.

Our geocaching experience
I chose an easy to find cache, suitable for children in a local playground.  We found it surprisingly easy to locate.  The GPS took us right to the cache and once there it was only a matter of looking for a good hiding spot.
geocachinggeocaching
The kids were thrilled with the adventure and they loved following our progress on the GPS map.  Inside the cache there were some small toys for swapping – a car, a gold pirate coin and an eraser.  The kids took something each and we replaced them with cars and a ball.

I was actually a little disappointed with how easy it was to find the cache.  I was hoping for more of a challenge.  But an easy first experience has been very motivating for my eldest son and the friends that came with us.

Why should you try geocaching with your kids?
Geocaching is a fun and inexpensive way to encourage your children to get outdoors.  Looking for a cache they have a change to get up close and personal with nature or see cities from a different perspective.   

1 comment:

YLA said...

Great post and great activity. Geocaching is a great way to get your kids outdoors. Our kids love it: http://yearlongadventure.wordpress.com/2011/02/02/geocaching-a-family-adventure/