Here's a New Hobby Idea
So, you're thinking of geocaching with children to get you and the kids out of the house? Or maybe you're wondering how to get out in nature without going on an aimless hike or biking to nowhere and back? Or perhaps you wish you could get those little ones out in the big woods for a nice hike without asking how much farther it is to the end?
Geocaching may just be the key. Here's a few tips to get the most out of geocaching with children so that both kids and parents have a great time.
Why Do Kids Like Geocaching?
This is the #1 draw for kids about geocaching. You see, every cache that is found may, but will not always, contain small trade items that a kid can swap for something that they brought along. The excitement of opening a new cache and not knowing what is inside is exciting for kids, and they are likely to end the day with something new to take home with them.
Geocaching is like a treasure hunt. You don't just get to open a box and trade an item. First, you have to find the box using your GPS and your brain. Some of these can be very easy and some can be very difficult but almost all of them are very fun. You will find caches where you are thankful that the kids were along because it required someone to crawl in a small spot, reach in a small hole, or you needed to lift them up to reach a high place. You know kids like hide and seek. Geocaching is hide and seek but for caches instead of people.
Kids love to get their hands on the gadget and "drive" the family to the cache. When they are using the GPS, they are in charge and feel a great sense of accomplishment when they finally succeed. Of course, you should know that they'll want a GPS of their own too before long.
Along the way you will undoubtably come across things that you never would have seen otherwise. You will end up in a county park you didn't know existed, a playground you have never seen or bothered to stop at, or on a trail that you never would have walked. The kids will find rocks, sticks, cross streams, see waterfalls, climb trees, spot deer, you name it. It's amazing what adventures await if you just get out there.
There is no T.V. out in nature, and if you can keep your cell phone put away while you're out and about you will find a new connection with each other - guaranteed.
Some Tips When Geocaching With Kids
Consider starting with a short beginner's guide to geocaching. After that, if you have decided to go for it and are bringing the kids geocaching, here are some tips for you that will serve you well. Adopt as many or as few as you like.
Determine a Rotation
If you have more than 1 kid along decide an order first. What that means is, let's say you are going with Bobby and Susie. Decide before you get out of the car that Susie gets to navigate first and Bobby gets to navigate second. Your first dilemma out on the trail is solved. This rotation will also apply to trade items (see the next point)
Bring Trade Items
Remember, when you find a cache it may contain trade items. In order to take something from a cache you need to have something to trade. Have Bobby and Susie grab an item from the house before you go so that they have something to trade. Let them determine if something they see in the box is a proper trade and, if not, teach them to hold onto their trade item for the next cache. There are some great values to teach here. Oh, and not everything you find in a cache is a trade item. You may be lucky enough to find a geocoin or a travel bug along the way. These things will have dog tags attached and/or a tracking number and are not to be kept. If you want to move them to another cache go ahead and write down the tracking number and log your move when you get home, but don't keep them for long. Their owners are watching and want them to keep moving.
Bring Water And a Snack
Once you've been out a while you will be glad you have water and a snack along. It's no fun to get halfway out on the trail and start hearing the "I'm thirsty" and "I'm hungry" talk begin.
Dress yourself and the kids in layers, especially if you are heading out into the true wilderness. The temperature difference between a sunny field and a shady woods can be surprising. Also, if you are out in mosquito season, long sleeves may be the greatest thing in the world. Bug spray is up to you.
Choose caches that are appropriate. Some caches are rated as being extremely difficult. Unless you have the time and patience you may want to skip these when geocaching with children. Plan a trek with a few caches that seem findable. Check the recent logs to make sure they have been found recently and are not under maintenance. Jot down the hint and container size so you have that when you're out on the trail and need it.
Watch For Muggles
In geocaching, muggles is a term that refers to other people. Most people out there have no idea what geocaching is so you don't want to tip them off when you find a cache and people are nearby. Teach your kids to be discrete or wait for people to clear out before going in for the find. It's hard for a kid not to scream "I found it!" when they spot the cache so a little training may be needed.
If there is one thing that is sure to happen when venturing into the woods, it's is an occassional scratch or bug bite, so be prepared. Bring along a bandage in your pocket and be sure to have a first aid kit in the car at all times so that you can attend to the little things that may take the fun out of your trip. It's amazing how much good a simple bandage can do for a child's outlook on a scratch.
It Really Is Affordable
This is really one of the great things about geocaching. Once you have a GPS to enter the coordinates and find your way you are done spending money. If you have a smartphone you can use that instead but be careful not to drop it. A weather-resistant GPS is a safer bet.
There is no recurring fee. No league fees. No entry fees. No uniforms to buy that will only fit this year and need to be washed for tomorow. No balls, bats, or gloves to buy. No skates or shoes that your kids will outgrow by next year. Geocaching is just about you and your kids having fun. It's true. Geocaching with children is an inexpensive and fun hobby, so give it a try.