Geocaching with Kids

Geocaching's one of those digitally enhanced activities that many of us have heard about but may not know what it really entails. MomSpeaker Paige Wolf recently went on her first geocaching expedition with her son and found it to be a great way to enjoy family time while getting some exercise and exploring her neighborhood. Here's her geocaching report.

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.

Download a geocaching app to get started. Or check out this intro-to-geocaching event at the Plainsboro Preserve on Aug. 23.

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!

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, my son 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!

Paige Wolf is a Philadelphia mom and author of Spit That Out! The Overly Informed Parent’s Guide to Raising Children in the Age of Environmental Guilt. This post is adapted from her blog, Spit That Out!

Categories: MomSpeak