One activity we love to do as a family is geocaching. Never heard of it? It’s basically a worldwide game of hiding and seeking treasures! My boys have been geocaching since they were toddlers and still love going out and finding caches.
It’s fun for us parents too! Want to get started? Here’s a step by step guide.
1. DOWNLOAD THE GEOCACHING APP
2. FIND A CACHE NEAR YOU
There are so many caches on the Mississippi Gulf Coast! Whenever we find ourselves with a little free time while out and about, we pull up the map and easily find a new cache nearby to discover. There are all kinds of caches but the most traditional ones to find are the green ones.
3. NAVIGATE TO THE CACHE
Once you click on the cache you would like to find, click “navigate.” This will give you either walking or driving directions to the cache. When you are within 32 feet (10 meters) of the geocache your phone will vibrate letting you know you are close.
Sometimes they are very easy and other times not so much. There is a difficulty rating on each cache and it will also tell you the size of the container. There is also a “hint” button if you are having trouble.
Before you pick the cache, do your research. Read the description to see if the area is safe, i.e. is it on the side of a highway, highly populated area, kid friendly? Also, read through the activity log. Has it been found recently? If you see a lot of DNF’s (did not find) recently, I would skip this one for now. There is nothing more disappointing than taking the kids on an adventure and then not being able to find the treasure. Some caches are maintained better than others. Tropical storms and hurricanes can blow them away and people do steal caches so always do your research.
If you are having difficulty finding it, look for hints in the activity log. I’ve found many people include a picture when they log the find, and that helps me find the cache!
4. LOG YOUR DISCOVERY
Each cache has a log. If it’s a larger cache it usually has trinkets for you to take as well. Be a good cacher and remember to bring something to add if you are taking!
Sign the log with your name (or team name!) and date. Then, in the app, click the “Log” button to get credit for finding the cache. This is where you can add a picture and tell how much you enjoyed finding the cache. Don’t give the location away though—remember, everyone can see this log!
Replace the cache EXACTLY as it was found. Don’t ruin the fun for the next person!
5. OUR GEOCACHING CAR KIT
Since we are always on the lookout for new caches we keep a kit in our car so we are always ready. Do you need any of this to enjoy this hobby? Absolutely not. But here is what works for us:
- Small Hiking Backpack to hold everything
- Grabber Extended Arm Tool: This thing has come in so handy! Some caches are in trees and they are just out of my reach. Others are hidden behind things and I don’t feel comfortable sticking my hand in so I use my grabber.
- Tweezers: Many of the caches we find are micro sized, meaning really small. They are usually magnetic and about the size of a dime, but thicker. The log is super small and is wound really tight inside. Tweezers make it so much easier to remove the log and to roll it back up.
- Bug Spray and Sunscreen
- Disposable Masks and Hand Sanitizer: You never know if you’ll have to pop into a populated place or touch something dirty.
- Baby Wipes and/or Bleach Wipes: Sometimes we get a little dirtier than expected.
- Bottle of Water
- Granola Bars
- Pen or a Pencil to Sign the Log
- Small First Aid Kit: We’ve had many scrapes and scratches going through brush and it’s been nice to be able to clean and cover it on the spot.
- Empty Bags: An added bonus of geocaching is we get to teach our kids how to help clean up the environment. They use the grabber arm to pick up trash as we search.
If you find yourself falling in love with this hobby as my family has, please consider placing and maintaining a cache yourself! We ordered a medium sized magnetic container and some log book pages from www.geocaching.com. It’s right across the street from our house so my boys love watching people find it. There are step by step guides on how to place a cache on the geocaching.com website.
- Cache: The treasure! It is a hidden container that contains possible treasures and trinkets along with a log book to sign.
- DNF: Did not find
- FTF: First to find. Sometimes if you are the first person to find a geocache, you may find a FTF collector’s coin waiting for you!
- Geocaching: Geocaching is a real-world, outdoor treasure hunting game using GPS-enabled devices. Participants navigate to a specific set of GPS coordinates and then attempt to find the geocache (container) hidden at that location.
- Muggle: A non-geocacher. Similar to “Muggle” from the Harry Potter series, which is a non-magical person.
- TFTC: Thanks for the cache
- TFTF: Thanks for the find