A New Kids Activity to Try: Geocaching!Beth Anne Ballance
“He is a caged animal,” I texted frantically to my friend on Sunday morning, referring to my 4-year-old son quite literally bouncing off the walls. We’d had a week of cold and wet weather, and the sun shone through the bedroom windows. Despite my house needing a solid cleaning and me needing a morning to write, this kiddo needed to get out of the house.
Thirty minutes later, we met at a close city park. We let the boys run wild and pushed them on the swings until our arms hurt. Then Sarah mentioned geocaching.
I’d heard of geocaching and found it interesting, but had never looked further into it.
According to the official site, “Geocaching is the real-world treasure hunt that’s happening right now, all around you. There are 2,295,229 active geocaches and over 6 million geocachers worldwide.” Okay… what does that even mean?
Turns out, a geocache is a little container or object hidden in the woods for others to find. They can vary in size (being super tiny to decently large), and many contain a “log book” where those who found the geocache can sign in to say they were there. Some geocaches have objects in them, like small toys or plastic rings, that you can take or swap out with your own new “treasures.” You find these containers by using GPS coordinates and clues from the geocaching app. The entire thing is based and run by a community of geocachers who leave the containers to be found, then enter in the coordinates on the website. The website feeds to the app so that others can find your container.
In short, we stomped through the woods, lifting branches and looking at GPS coordinates and clues from the Geocaching app to find tiny “treasures” left in the woods by other geocache fans. There’s really no “point” to it other than adventure and fun — although you can certainly use it to delve further into map skills with your kids.
We had so much fun that when we returned home, I signed up on the geocaching website and downloaded the geocaching app to my cell phone. I have to admit that the website seems to complicate the entire process — when we were out, we simply found the “treasures” and admired them. We found one larger geocache with items inside on our adventure, so Sarah’s little guy did take a ring and left a toy dinosaur in return, but we didn’t bother signing in. I doubt I will ever hide my own geocache and submit it for others to find.
I think for now, my son Harry and I will stick to just finding the “treasures” with the geocaching website and the GPS maps on my phone. Have you ever gone geocaching with your kid? What is your favorite part?