August 13, 2012
I recently had my first experience with geocaching when our entire family took a vacation in Colorado. Our daughter is a geocaching enthusiast and wanted us all to join in the experience. Our first find was in a beautiful location right near an outdoor wedding chapel up in the mountains. My four-year-old grandson was the first one to spot the hidden cache! If you aren’t familiar with this activity you are probably wondering—
What is Geocaching?
It is basically a global treasure hunt that uses your GPS to guide you to the treasure. People all over the world have hidden containers loaded with trinkets and objects at various locations, which you can go out and find. The containers vary greatly in size and appearance. They can be anything from a clear plastic container to film canisters, to a fake rock with a secret compartment. When you find the treasure, you replace the object with one of your own, and the game continues for the next person. A cache can be on a trail in a state park or in the playground across town.
How do I get started Geocaching?
- You must first sign up for a free account at the official website, where you can search for geocaches by zip code and log your caches after you find them.
- Download an app for your smart phone (many are free). We use the free android app "c:geo." You can search for caches that are "nearby" or search for a specific cache using its "GC number" or a keyword. The app will sync to your geocaching.com account so you can log caches as you find them. You can also buy a GPS device if you don’t have a smartphone.
- Entries for caches have a description of the cache, the area it is placed, a clue, and a logbook where other people may have posted photos or clues after they found the cache.
What’s in a Cache?
• Treasure: logbook to sign/date and trade items or treasure.
There may also be:
• Trackables: travel bugs and geocoins. A trackable is a sort of physical geocaching "game piece." Each trackable is etched with a unique code that can be used to log its movements on Geocaching.com as it travels in the real world. A travel bug is a trackable tag attached to an item that geocachers call a "hitchhiker." Each travel bug has a goal set by its owner, such as to travel from coast to coast. Geocoins are customizable coins created by individuals as a kind of signature item or calling card. They also should be moved to another cache. My daughter put a geocoin in the first Colorado cache I described earlier. The coin traveled through Arizona, the Southwest, and ended up in a cache in Texas. We also found a travel bug in the Colorado cache that had originated in Europe!
Why Geocache with Kids?
- It is absolutely free!
- Geocaching is an excellent educational tool. You can teach basic map reading skills, and with older students, you can teach them about latitude, longitude, and geography. While finding or hiding geocaches, you can learn about local history or nature. You will discover areas in your community you didn’t know even existed!
- Geocaching teaches your children the value of the journey, as well as the destination. With this technological treasure hunt, you are taking them away from video games and giving them an opportunity to be a real life Indiana Jones or pirate treasure hunter. A nature walk becomes an adventure.
- It is like playing hide and seek with a global community. Your child will begin to feel a sense of comradeship as he finds that others are interested in playing the same game, all around the world! There are 1 million caches worldwide.
I hope I have piqued your interest enough that you will come to the Library and check out some of the books we carry on geocaching such as:
- The Essential Guide to Geocaching: Tracking Treasure with Your GPS
- The Geocaching Handbook: A Complete Introduction to Geocaching
- The Joy of Geocaching: How to Find Health, Happiness and Creative Energy Through a Worldwide Treasure Hunt.
Blue Springs South Branch