An overgrown kid at heart, I love a good scavenger hunt. It’s why my husband and I like to sign up for local scavenger hunt races and turn watching Jeopardy into a competitive sport.
For most actual children, loving scavenger hunts is as innate as loving artificial frosting – accept this is a love that can be very healthily encouraged!
I had heard about geocaching off an on over the years but didn’t know very much about it. But recently I was browsing an issue of Parents Magazine where it was briefly mentioned as a fun way to spend time with children outdoors. I downloaded the app on my iPhone and was hooked before we even started.
Geocaching is a real-world, outdoor treasure hunting game using GPS-enabled devices – i.e. smartphones. Participants navigate to a specific set of GPS coordinates and then attempt to find the geocache (container) hidden at that location. Geocaches can be found all over the world. It is common for geocachers to hide caches in locations that are important to them, reflecting a special interest or skill of the cache owner. They may be at your local park, at the end of a long hike, underwater or on the side of a city street.
There’s so much I love about this activity. First, it gets you outside with your children for an activity that can literally keep you busy for hours. Second, if you are doing the geocaching on foot, it will get you and your family plenty of exercise! Third, it is an amazing way to explore a new city or rediscover your own. Our first geocache was located in a beautiful little garden that we never knew existed even though it was just four blocks from our home!
Some are in larger containers, but you really do need an eagle eye and a good mind for tricky clues. All the caches contain a scroll where you can sign your name and see the handles of finders from all over the world! If you are lucky you find a cache with “treasure,” mostly stickers, foreign coins, and trinkets which you can exchange for something of “equal or greater value.”
At one site, Sam and I spent at least 30 minutes searching for the cache with no luck. I won’t lie, it can be frustrating. But after a few you start to adopt the sixth sense that will lead you to your prize. And even if you don’t find the cache every time, you will discover new and interesting places, get a decent workout, and create fun memories with your kids!