Sherburne Nature Center Hike, Ipswich River Wildlife Sanctuary Hike), especially when we find new locations that have item of interest like rivers, streams, ponds, bridges, and giant rocks to climb on. The kids get restless if we’re just walking and walking, so those help them stay engaged. The other day, when I asked them to join me for a hike, they moaned and groaned and complained that walking around was BORING. Little did they know that I had an adventure planned. We were going to try our hand at geocaching.
For the uninitiated, geocaching is using a GPS (readily available in most smart phones today, including my Droid Turbo) to find a “cache” hidden by someone else. It’s like a treasure hunt. Often there are even little items to take/swap in the geocache, so bring a few little things to leave in exchange. Make sure they are all-weather-friendly. You can wrap them in plastic wrap or a little bag for protection. We have some small Avengers pins we like to leave, but it can be anything that fits in the container. Small toys, a coin, a magnet or a little ball would work. Sometimes geocachers will leave a trackable item in the box. It will have some sort of code or serial number on it to record online so the original owner can follow its travels. If you get one of those, make sure you’re able to leave it in another geocache in the near future so you don’t break the chain. If there’s space, there will often be a log in the container so you can record your find.
There are a number of apps out there for locating geocaches, but we use one called Geocaching. The free version is Geocaching Intro. Sign up at Geocaching.com for more info. You can start with a free account and upgrade to see “premium” caches if you enjoy it. This app will let you search for caches in your area and filter by difficulty. Sometimes they are right off an obvious path and in a container that is easy to spot, while others are more secluded and camouflaged. If you’re just getting started or going with kids, make sure you choose an easy geocache.
Tips for Geocaching with Kids
- Make sure your phone or GPS is fully charged and has a good battery. I was happy to have my Droid Turbo with me because it’s got such a great battery. Using the GPS drains a battery quickly!
- Wear long pants and long-sleeved shirts. Bring bug spray and sunscreen as needed.
- If ticks are a problem in your area, do a tick check when done to make sure you didn’t bring home any hitchhikers.
- Keep your eye out for poisonous plants and vines.
- Bring water and snacks
- Let the kids help guide the way.
- If you’re using a phone, make sure it is protected from the elements with a good case.
In case you’re wondering how our first geocaching adventure went, it was interesting. I had done my homework, so I knew we’d be in a wooded area that had once served as a cemetery for a psychiatric hospital. I know, I know. But it was fairly close to our house, and labeled as an easy cache, so why not? I won’t drag this out… we got a bit lost. Not lost, lost, but we were following the GPS a bit too literally and missed the path. Then we ended up wading through waist-high weeds (including poison ivy) and broken grave stones. It was buggy and creepy and my kids were a bit freaked out. I was freaked out, too. In fact, we gave up and started to head back to the car. But then we saw the correct path and the cache was actually really easy to find in a hollowed-out log. Our first geocaching experience was a success!
Disclosure: I am a member of the Verizon Wireless Insiders Team and have receive products and/or compensation in relation to this post. The opinions are my own.