Have you discovered geocaching?
It’s an outdoor global treasure hunting game played by millions of people around the world!
Here’s an introduction by Geocaching.com – the largest geocache membership site:
Here is why we’re obsessed with it:
1. Encourages Creative Thinking & Problem Solving
Geocaching is the perfect opportunity to demonstrate to your global kids how to read a compass and maps, as both are ways you can seek out and locate the cache.
Kids are introduced to some basic navigation skills, and as they process the cache descriptions and clues, they are developing critical and creative thinking skills.
The activity is a great exercise in team problem-solving, as well. My boys are always excited to share their individual knowledge and build upon each other’s ideas as they pursue the “hidden treasures.”
2. It’s About the Journey
Each time we embark on a geocaching adventure, we go beyond the hunt aspect of the activity, and truly become immersed in the surrounding nature.
For example, while in pursuit of a cache, the boys scour the area and often discover unique insects, lizards, wildflowers, plants, (sensitive plants are a favorite find), mushrooms, rocks, fossils, animal tracks, and other signs of wildlife.
My six-year-old carries a little bag with him (it’s part of his geocaching “tool kit”) in which he collects fallen bark, seed pods, sea shells and other little treasures which he later incorporates into a nature-inspired work of art.
Be warned and prepare your kids – You WILL NOT Always Find the Cache. Sometimes, no matter how long and hard the team searches, it remains undiscovered.
That’s okay — because you will be discovering great new parks and interesting places and objects near where you live that you never knew existed.
It’s important to remind your kids that even if you’re skunked (fail to find the cache) the real fun is in the hunt and enjoying the places it takes you.
3. Opportunity to Take Part in Nature Cleanup
Public parks are a common hiding place for geocaches. There is always litter to be picked up in the parks, so it is a great opportunity for the kids to pitch in to improve the quality and aesthetics of the environment in order to create a healthier and more beautiful outdoor area for the community to enjoy.
4. Historical & Cultural Connections
People tend to associate geocaching with the exploration of nature. However, there are caches specifically designed to highlight historical or cultural areas, as well.
By searching for these types of caches, geocachers can learn about the history and culture related to the setting of the cache.
During one recent search we came upon this old red caboose, and learned about its historical significance (the cache was hidden underneath).
In Florida, several caches highlight Indian burial mound history. Another example: There is a series of caches based upon Presidential visits to various locations in Florida. Apparently, many Presidents enjoyed vacationing in the Sunshine State.
5. We Can Do It On Vacation
It also can make a fun addition to your next vacation. Be sure to look up cache locations along highways and near hotels, museums, zoos and aquariums to enhance the travel experience and turn it into a learning vacation.
Geocaches have gone global. Geocaching.com lists more than 1.6 million caches in over 200 countries around the world!
To Get Started:
The easiest way to start is to head over to Geocaching.com and sign up for a free account.
Once you register, you can search for nearby caches on their site, or you can download their app to your mobile phone.
The app features a compass and a map to guide you to each secret location.
Also, there are descriptions, hints and logs from other geocachers which help to get you closer to the cache.