Lately, my kids have been very interested in Geocaching. To be honest, when they approached me about this I was extremely skeptical about whether or not this was an appropriate activity that my kids would enjoy. After some research and our first adventure, we are in love! Geocaching with kids is like the ultimate treasure hunt! On top of that. it is practically a free family activity!
What is Geocaching?
The word Geocache (gee-oh-cash) comes from two words. The first is the prefix geo meaning “Earth” and the second cache which is a safe place for storing or hiding something. It is like a global game of hide-n-seek!
The treasures are found using a handheld GPS device or even your smartphone and come in all shapes, sizes, and difficulty levels. Sometimes containers are even camouflaged to look like their surroundings! Locations for caches vary from areas that you pass every single day to adventures off the beaten path. With over 2 million caches worldwide there is bound to be some near you!
Inside the cache, there will at least be a log book to sign. The larger caches usually are filled with smaller treasures to trade such as Happy Meal toys, stickers, bouncy balls, and other fun trinkets.
This is such a fun way to get out and explore your town. Outside of finding cache treasures, you might just find a new favorite place. We have discovered everything from new hiking and biking trails to playgrounds on our Geocaching adventures.
What Do I Need to Start Geocaching?
If you have a smartphone you have just about everything you need! Simply download the free geocache app and go! I would highly suggest putting a Lifeproof Case on your phone if you plan on letting little kids use it to geocache. This way if those little hands drop it or get your phone wet, it will survive. If you do not have a smartphone you will need to use a Handheld GPS Device.
To create your account and find local caches, visit Geocaching.com and register for a free account. If you want access to additional premium geocaches the premium membership is $30 annually. Just to give you an idea, we currently live in a small town and are using the free membership. Not counting the premium caches we currently have 115 caches available for us to find — that is more than enough for a couple afternoons of adventure with kids 😉
You may also want to bring a backpack with a couple small items to trade, a pen or two, and water bottles. The rule of geocaching is that if you take something from a cache you need to replace it with something of equal or greater value, this way that cache continues to be fun!
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Some caches are really easy to find while others may require a long hike. Make sure to check the difficulty and terrain ratings on Geocaching.com before you go.
Also, if your kids are into the treasure hunting aspect of geocaching, make sure to stick to the larger caches and stay away from the microcaches.
What Are the Educational Qualities of Geocaching?
Math and Maping Skills: Geocaching is a fun hands-on way to explore longitude and latitude. As kids seek out their treasures they will be learning how to use GPS, a compass, follow directions, and map out the locations of their cache.
Nature Studies: Many caches have clues that tie directly into the environment that they are located in. Because of this, as kids are treasure hunting they are observing their surroundings and discussing the differences between various local habitats.
Technology: Seeking out, finding, and logging caches all require the use of a smartphone or GPS which makes this a great STEM activity.
Art: My kids love to create little trinkets and pieces of artwork to leave in exchange for their treasures found. A homemade magnet or friendship bracelet is so much more fun to leave and find than a McDonalds toy!
History: Many caches provide details about the local history and/or tell a story. This is such a fun way to learn about your local community!
Safety: Some caches can be in fairly dangerous areas. Getting off the beaten path and exploring as a family is a fantastic way to teach your kids basic outdoor safety skills — from road safety to water safety, geocaching definitely requires these skills to be talked about and taught.
Problem Solving: We have come across quite a few caches that have been puzzles to solve. From figuring out the coordinates of the cache to how to open it, geocaching is a great activity for creative problem solving.
Geocache Journal for Kids
Grab your printable Geocache Journal for Kids in our shop!