Written by Debbie Markland, May 17, 2020
Shortly before our stay-at-home order started, my daughter, age 17, came home from school one day and asked if I knew about Geocaching. I giggled. My husband and I spent a lot of weekends family geocaching when our children were little. Our daughter was little, age 2-3 at the time, so she didn’t remember. But, we have reignited our Geocaching account and have had so much fun together finding caches and marking our finds.
When we Geocached years ago (2001-2006ish), we didn’t have cell phones, so we didn’t have a handy GPS device in our pocket all the time. We would look online on the Geocache website, print out the instructions and hit the trails. At the time, most caches were in parks or off of trails. After completing a few finds, we bought a handheld GPS and that helped us tremendously.
Now- there’s an app.
Here’s how it works.
- Download the app and choose an area where you want to head. Parks and trails are still very common locations for people to hide caches, but it has also become urbanized. You can find them in parking lots, on fences, even in Little Libraries. On the app, you can see where caches have been placed. On the screen, you are the blue dot. There are several that you may access at no charge, but you can also upgrade for a fee to access more caches.
- When you are in the vicinity of a cache, and you have decided on the one you’d like to find, click on the green circle with a shoebox. This will tell you the title of the cache, as well as how far away from it you are and it’s difficulty level (a rating of 0-5).
- Tap on the title of the cache at the bottom of the screen. This gives you more options to find the description of the area and the actual cache.
- Tap Navigate. Logically, this will lead you to the cache, but it’s not that easy- they are hidden – in trees, in holes, on lampposts, on fences….
Caches come in different sizes- micro (this is about the size of pen top), small (a film canister), medium (a sandwich box), large (a shoebox), and mystery (left for you to figure out). Knowing the size helps as you look for the cache. You may also read the hints or activity which gives you tips if you are stuck on finding the cache.
When you downloaded the app on your phone, you would have set up an account. After the find, you log that you found it both on a physical log I (always have a pen) that is inside the cache and on your phone.
When you start out with children and as first time geocachers, choose an easy level (1-2) and a large cache. Typically inside the medium to large caches, you will find tradeable items. This is what makes it fun for kiddos! The rule is, if you take something, leave something- it’s a trade.
Try it out- it’s a fun family activity!
There are other similar things like Letter Boxing, and Painted Rocks! Once we try those- I’ll let you know about the fun we had!