If you have school-aged kids and haven’t heard of geocaching then this could be the post that saves you from half-term hell. It’s one of our family’s favourite hobbies and will get your kids out into the great outdoors keeping active and keeping boredom at bay.
Simply put, geocaching is a real-world, outdoor treasure hunting game. Participants (known as geocachers) navigate using a GPS-enabled device (such as a smart phone) to a specific set of coordinates to find “treasure” (or geocaches). Geocaches are hidden all over the world.
At this very moment, there could quite possibly be a container hidden somewhere out of sight within walking distance to where you are right now. In fact, there could be half a dozen of them. And this is not just limited to urban areas, there are geocaches hidden all over the place. According to the official Geocaching website, there are 2,303,488 geocaches and 6 million geocachers worldwide.
To find out where geocaches are hidden you need to download the Official Geocaching app (approx £6) or log on to the website. By simply clicking on “find nearby geocaches” it will display a map marking where all the closest “treasures” are hidden. As you get closer to one it will let you know. It’s almost like the old-fashioned “hot or cold” game, but using GPS.
For each geocache there will be a brief description and rating to let you know if it’s for kids or not. It’s up to you to find the exact spot the geocaches/containers are hidden. In some cases they are very easy to find, while others may elude you no matter how hard you look. Inside each container you will find a pen/pencil and a small notepad to write down your team’s name and the date you found it.
In the larger geocaches you will also find a number of small “treasures”. Remember for every knick-knack you take out, you must replace with something of your own. We pick up bags of tiny plastic animals, medals, stickers and little toys from pound shops and carry them in the back of the car, purely for geocaching adventures.
Just remember, when you are looking for geocaches do not let others see you. Do not let others know what you are doing and always return the geocache to the exact spot you found it. And remember to make a note of each one you find both on the notepad inside the container and online, so others using the geocache app can read up on what you rated it.
Once you’ve got the hang of finding geocaches then you can try hiding some of your own. Always remember to follow the guidelines and put them in safe places. You will need to submit an online form for a geocache volunteer to approve and then list your geocache. Imagine how excited your kids would be to go back and check how many people had found their geocache.
We are completely addicted to it. It’s the perfect way to discover a new town when on holidays or if you are new to an area. It also teaches kids about following directions, working as a team and the thrill of the hunt. And once you’ve got the app and a few little toys to exchange, it makes for a fabulous, free, healthy afternoon exploring with family and friends. It’s an excellent way to entertain a few kids at once or a great way to get older kids to interact with their younger brothers and sisters.
And the thrill of finding a geocache buried under a rock, deep in a wood or stuck in the middle of your town centre awesome fun for everyone.
Give it a go – I bet you’ll love it.