Monday, June 3, 2013

Miscellaneous Madness: Geocaching with Kiddos


One rainy morning during our recent trip to New Jersey, mom decided that we'd get an early jump on our summer bucket list and try our hands at geocaching. For those not in the know, geocaching is an outdoor activity in which you use GPS (either via a GPS receiver or another mobile device) to hide and seek containers called "geocaches" or "caches." In other words, it's a real live treasure hunt. Mom signed us up at geocaching.com (the official global GPS cache hunt site), we viewed a few great tutorials, downloaded the geocaching.com iPhone app, Cami and I both suddenly gained the ability to rapidly put our own shoes on, we grabbed a pen, and we were ready to go!


There are different kinds of caches -- the most popular for kids are the larger sized, traditional containers which frequently contain small trinkets. You take a trinket, leave a trinket. We had no problem finding several on the island -- geocaching.com indicates that there are well over 2 million geocaches worldwide. Can you imagine!? All that treasure out there, just waiting to be found? And you are just walking by it every day. We hunted first for "A Day at the Beach" geocache, which turned out to be a virtual cache (a sticker with a scannable QR barcode) despite it being labeled as a "traditional." Not as exciting as the treasure we planned on finding, but it was a good start to learning to use the GPS because it was right off the street in a parking lot.


Next we hit up "Jackal's Birthday Bash Geocache." The description indicated that there were some items for kids and it had an interesting hint (you don't have to use the hint, but we found them to be very helpful in most cases). SCORE. It took us a while, but we used our noggins to figure out the clever clue and found some great loot. AND it had a travel bug -- an official tagged trackable item that is trying to reach a certain destination. The one we found started in Wisconsin, traveled all the way from Germany and was trying to get to the UK. We brought it to DC thinking that some British tourists might pick it up.


And we enrolled the help of some of our buddies to find a good cache for drop off. We won't tell you where it is -- see if you can find it! We found another cache on a hike in Virginia this past weekend and we are totally hooked. They are literally all over the place, so any time we have a few free minutes, we've been asking if there are any nearby geocaches. Originally, mom put on our bucket list that we wanted to find 5 this summer. Seeing as we've already found 4, we'll have to revisit that!

Sound cool? Join us! Sign up at geocaching.com and "friend" us -- Not-So-SAHM (also occasionally in cache logbooks as Green Machine or The Green Princesses -- depending on our mood and geocaching buddies). We've included below some tips based on our brief experience thus far. Hope you get geocaching!



Tips for Geocaching with Kiddos:
- Sign up (for free) and review the beginner geocaching tutorials online at geocaching.com. They were very helpful in learning how to navigate the website and use the app properly.

- Plan ahead by looking online at geocaching.com for your intended caches. You can browse by postal code if you plan to search further from your home or have the site look based on your current location.

- Pick the best caches for your kiddos age.
  -- They are organized by size and type of cache, difficulty in terrain, and level of seeking difficulty. We've found that the best for us are traditional caches of regular or large size.
  -- Mom also checks the description and hints ahead of time to gauge if it's going to be too difficult for us to find. We like it a little tricky, but not too much.
  -- Check for the last date the cache was found. It's a good sign if it was found recently.

- Bring a pen and as many trinkets as you plan on taking. And hand wipes. And hand sanitizer. It's a dirty business.

- Pick out one or two to find on a trip. Depending on how long it takes to find one, little attention spans may wane.

2 comments:

Caron Baker said...

that cache you dropped off isn't near Fort Bayard park is it? We found one very similar looking on friday.

Kane and Cameron said...

We did! The travel bug we dropped there looks like it was picked up earlier in June, but that's where it was!