Summer Sanity: All About Geocaching

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.

Today’s Activity: All About Geocaching

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 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.

  1. 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!
  2. 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.
  3. 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 over at The Canadian Homeschooler, connecting Canadians with resources for their homeschooling journey.

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13 Responses to Summer Sanity: All About Geocaching

  1. once when we were traveling we happened upon one by accident! lol friends of ours love to do this!

  2. Annie Brown says:

    We absolutely love geocaching!!! It is so much fun but since we moved to Toronto we haven’t looked for much that is going to change very shortly.

  3. Brandi Yee says:

    I’ve never heard of geocaching!! Thanks so much for sharing, it’s something I’m definitely going to look into 🙂 How fun!

  4. We still need to do this one activity from our Summer Bucket List. I wish we had a GPS. I think we may need to borrow one! hehe!

  5. Deanna T. says:

    I’ve always thought geocatching sounded interesting, but this makes it sound like SO MUCH FUN. And it has never occurred to me that purchasing a GPS might not be required. I wonder if there’s an iPad app? You just opened my summer to some interesting possibilities.

  6. Christine says:

    That is too cool! The first time I had ever heard of geocaching was this year! They offer it at the eco-resort up the road from us! Really interesting.

  7. Denise G says:

    I have heard of this before – but have never done it! Sounds like so much fun! Great for kids of all ages to get out from behind the computer or games!

  8. Ms. Key says:

    I keep hearing about this activity, one day I should give it a try to see what happens. Maybe take my youngest brother out, he would enjoy this type of thing.

  9. Play Me Mama says:

    Random question can you use the same GPS from the car or the GPS app on the iphone or do you need a more specialized one? That is what has always held me back from trying this with the kids!

  10. That looks like so much fun. My brother (the babies’ uncle) is into the geocaching for adults (off-roading). I will assign him to take them around the city or on gentle off-road trips to try geocaching when they are older. It looks like such a great adventure.

    : 0 ) Theresa
    Capri + 3

  11. el03ro says:

    September 3-I have heard about geocaching before but had never taken part in it. This sounds like a marvellous pastime for pre-teens and teenagers and for parents who are permitted to accompany them! Thanks for the update. I would certainly take part if my gchildren were younger.-el03ro

  12. Olivia L says:

    I’ve run into info about geocaching a few times lately, and it sounds like so much fun! My girls are still pretty young, but I definitely want to do this in a year or two.

  13. kathy downey says:

    My daughter is a huge fan of geocaching and they have so much fun with it

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