Geocaching: treasure hunting with your GPS
My family's split down the middle when it comes to outdoor fun. There are two people who are always looking for reasons to be/play/eat outside, and two who prefer looking at nature from behind glass, preferably while seated in a temperature-controlled environment with Wifi. As such, the answer to "what should we do this weekend?" is rarely straightforward.
I'm always looking for ways to coax the indoorsies outdoors. And I think I've hit on it: geocaching. Or, as I presented it to my family, walks that require gadgets (several eyebrows lifted in interest as I'm usually the one hoping the iPhone gets forgotten at home).
Geocaching is essentially a treasure hunt with the help of a mobile GPS device. To begin, go to Geocaching.com and sign up for a free account. Then search for a cache to find...it can be in your neighborhood, along a trail, or anywhere else in the world. (I found three within walking distance of my house.) The website will give you GPS coordinates and clues, which you plug into your device and set out on the hunt! Your GPS will lead you to the vicinity of the cache, but once you arrive you must find the final hiding spot using the clues.
But what exactly are you looking for? Generally, the cache a small waterproof container holding a logbook, and sometimes, a collection of trinkets to trade. But folks who really get into geocaching go much further, creating puzzles to be solved, or setting up multi-part caches. Consider these more challenging adventures once you've got some experience under your belt, or if you're embarking on this adventure with teens.
After you find the cache, dance your happy dance! (I'm getting excited just thinking about it.) Once you're settled back in at home, you can log back in to the Geocaching website to leave your comments.
A few tips should you decide to try geocaching with your kids:
- Choose your first few caches wisely. Keep them relatively easy to find, and read the comments for extra assurance that the cache is still hidden at that location. Caches do occasionally go missing, and it would be a shame to kick off your experience with a disappointment.
- Pack a pen and some little items to leave behind. The rule is that if you take something from a cache, you must leave something of equal or greater value.
- Consider geocaching while on vacation. What better way to explore new territory?
- Hide your own cache. Once your kids catch the geocaching bug, they might want to create and hide their own cache. The "pay it forward" spirit feels good for everyone. Geocaching.com gives you all the details about hiding your first cache.
This post is part of a series sponsored by Dodge Caravan.