Geocaching with your kids

Geocaching with Family

(thanks to boomergrandparents.com for the photo)

Geocaching is a fun activity for adults and children alike. It can be a great way to bond with your children and get outside in nature at the same time. Geocaching can teach your children basic navigation skills including a sense of direction, and how to use a map, compass, and GPS.  But most of all, geocaching gets children outside, providing a hefty dose of adventure and exploration – it’s like a treasure hunt!

But heading out and hunting down a cache with children along is much different than doing the same yourself. In addition to picking a fun, yet safe, geocache to track down, you will also want to make sure that you gear the activity towards the kids, so that they are the ones doing the majority of the hunting.

Below is a quick breakdown of how to make geocaching with your kids as interesting and enjoyable as possible.

Make a Plan

Geocaches come in all different shapes, sizes, and forms and are hidden in nearly every country of the world (and even in space too!). If your kids are new to geocaching, then you should probably start with caches that are located somewhat close to your home. Pick a few (3 or 4 is a good start) and design a game of it – there’s nothing more enticing for kids (of all sizes) than getting out into nature (or the neighbourhood), for a fun day of treasure hunting.

Check out geocaching.com for a list of nearly every cache out there. You can use their handy search option to look for caches in your own area. Each geocache has a description and a one through five difficulty rating. You will probably want to stick with easier terrain for your first couple of times out geocaching with your kids.

Pack The Right Tools

Nothing is as disappointing to a kid (or to an adult!) than heading out for a fun adventure only to realize that the tools needed for the job were left at home. Luckily, geocaching requires very few tools. All that you need is a properly functioning GPS receiver or modern Smart Phone (like an iPhone or Android).

Also, depending on how long your treasure hunt is, you may need to pack food, water, and some extra clothing (if you’re getting really adventurous).  Do your research: read up on each of the caches on geocaching.com, so you know what to expect, and make sure you have a clear understanding of where the cache is located, including its coordinates, and how to use your GPS.

I also recommend taking along an extra map of the area and a compass. Though you probably won’t need to use either (you have a GPS already!), it’s good to have backups in case of an emergency. And it can be fun to teach your kids to navigate the old fashioned way as well. Along these same lines, it is smart to stow a small hiking first-aid kit in your backpack, especially if you’ll be out in the woods.

Find the Cache Already!

After you’ve decided upon a cache and stocked up on supplies, the only thing left to do is to go find the cache already! Program the coordinates for the cache into your GPS receiver. Drive to the nearest parking spot to the cache. Get out of the car and hike. Make sure that your children are the ones holding the device and figuring out the right direction to take. Sometimes popular geocaches will have extra clues, hints, and directions in their online descriptions. Use these to further help you find the cache.

Geocaching is an excellent way to introduce your children to the wonders of nature. It can get your whole family outdoors and moving. If you go geocaching with your kids this summer/fall, be sure to let us know how the adventure went in the comments below!

 

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