Have you ever wanted to be a pirate? Or maybe a secret detective? If the thought of going on a treasure hunt is exciting to you or your kids, then geocaching is the perfect adventure waiting for you to discover. It is a great way to get to know some pretty cool places in your own backyard or discover places you didn’t know even existed. Sound fun? You bet! To play, you do have to follow some basic rules and have either a handheld GPS device or a smartphone, but we will get to that.
So what is this geocaching business? Someone hides a waterproof container, lists the specific GPS coordinates of said container, and it is up to you to find it. The containers are various sizes, some so small they can barely contain a rolled up piece of paper (to log the find) and other ones as large as a big tackle box filled with all sorts of “treasures”, usually small toys, coins, stickers, badges or other tradable items. The ones with toys are Felix and Max’s favourites. Think of the joy of opening a Kinder surprise egg but add some interesting outdoor exploring on top of it. Did I mention that you can do all this for free? In order to get started, sign up at Geocaching and visit your smartphone’s app store to download the app Geocaching by Groundspeak Inc. Geocaching also has a great section on their website called Geocaching 101 where you can find more information and videos.
What the Geocaching App looks like in the Apple App Store
Before you run off to find your first geocache there are a few rules you need to know and things you will need to pack.
- If you take anything from a geocache make sure you replace it with something of equal or greater value. If you don’t have anything to trade, don’t take anything from the geocache.
- Make sure you log your find (write your geocache name and the date in the logbook provided and in the geocache app).
- Once you are done, put the geocache back where and as you found it.
(I love the first and third rule because it affords me and opportunity to teach Felix and Max the value of things, as well as giving them a chance to show how to respect other people’s property).
For packing purposes, you will need a smart phone or a handheld GPS device, a pen, a bag of tradable toys or items (only if you are planning on doing some trades), and clothes that you don’t mind getting dirty.
Felix was happy to find a large geocache.
We found one of the smaller geocaches, look closely and see if you can spot it. The little green object between the wood and the rock.
If you are geocaching with kids make sure to set the expectation that you are in it for an adventure and to explore, with the addition that you may or may not find treasure. Sometimes, despite your best efforts, you may not find the geocache for numerous reasons and so if you can be clear with your expectations you hopefully avoid any disappointment.
Max proudly showing off some of geocache traded treasures.
That’s it! You are ready to go. I love geocaching because it is an activity we can do for free, it guarantees some sort of adventure, and it gets us outside, which is a definite win in my household. I hope you and your family enjoy it as much as mine does.