This Guest Post is a part of Summer Sanity, a series of posts for parents to gain ideas and inspiration for how to keep their children happy, active, educated and having fun during the long summer months.
A few years ago, a friend of mine introduced me to the world of geocaching. I was intrigued – and my 3 young boys were beyond excited. Every kid dreams of treasure hunts, and geocaching helps fulfill that passion.
What is geocaching?
Basically, it's as simple as looking for a hidden container in random places. Some of them are easier to find: a peanut butter jar tucked in the base of a tree or a sandwich container under a stone. Others are more challenging: matchstick tubes wrapped in camo tape and hooked onto a tree branch inside an evergreen or hung inside a sewer grate. Still others are darned near impossible: mini containers the size of your thumbnail magnetically attached to things or puzzles that you have to solve.
It's a worldwide treasure hunt. Or, as one t-shirt I saw said, “I use multi-million dollar satellites to find Tupperware in the woods.”
It's free – other than needing a GPS of some sort. There are many GPS apps available, so even that might not be an expense. Free, fun, outdoors, and kid-friendly – geocaching is one of the ultimate family summer activities.
How do we get started?
First you need to register at the website www.geocaching.com. Make a name and look for a cache near you. Punch in the co-ordinates into your GPS and look at any extra clues. These are really helpful when you are first starting out and aren't really able to pick out a hiding spot quickly.
Once you have your hunt planned out, grab a pen & your GPS – head out and get started. Enjoy the adventure!
What do we do when we find it?
Congratulations! This is a successful day. Let me tell you, my boys are starting to wonder if they should only hunt with their Dad because he always finds them and I always seem not to!
The goal is to keep it hidden and secret. Try not to let anyone around see what you are doing. People who aren't familiar with geocaching sometimes steal the containers and ruin the fun. Open the cache and add your name (the one you signed up with on the site!) to the log.
If there are little treasures in the box, you can take one, but please leave something in return. Flag pins, special coins, erasers, miniature toys – all these are popular items for the collections. Once you've done all that, you can take a picture. Just don't show people the hiding spot so they have a chance to enjoy the hunt too! Carefully tuck it back into the exact spot you found it, making sure that it's well hidden.
When you can, add your success to the website. It's called logging your find. The website will keep track of all your finds, and didn't finds and other caches you are excited to look for. It's a terrific tool.
What if you don't find it?
Don't panic. There's a few potential reasons for this outcome.
- It's hidden REALLY REALLY well. We've missed SO many hides, just because they were so well hidden. In fact, there's one place that we've been to 3 times without success, only to see on the website that someone else found it in between our hunts. It happens. Just go back, look at the website to see if there's something you missed or a clue in someone's posts and try again another day!
- It's gone. People steal them or they get damaged. It happens. Just report that you didn't find it on the site. That way, if there's a pattern of non-successful finds, the owner can go check for it.
- It's not exactly where the co-ordinates are. Sometimes there's a slight variation on the GPS and the location where the website says is slightly off from the actual cache. Look around all the nearby areas that might hold your cache.
Whether you live in a place with lots of buildings or lots of parks, geocaching (or treasure hunting as we call it here at our house) is a blast for everyone. Just the chance to enjoy time together, working on a challenge is worth every moment. Give it a try. You can move at your own pace (we only have 14 finds whereas our friends who started at the same time are closing quickly in on find #300!). Just have fun. That's really the point of the game.
Lisa Marie Fletcher is a Canadian mother of 3 young boys and wife of a hardworking golf-industry man. She blogs about faith, homeschooling, reviews, and other important things of life at Learning Titus 2. Her other site, The Canadian Homeschooler, connects Canadians with resources for their homeschooling journey.
This post has been sponsored by ONSGear.com, an online Canadian store selling innovative accessories, clothing, gadgets and gear invented by fellow parentpreneurs.