Geocaching with Kids: Keeping them Busy, Any Time, Any Where

I had heard about geocaching from a few friends before I had a smart phone.  The idea was intriguing, and thought it would be a good activity when my kids got a little older.  Then one day, we were in the park and one of my kids came up to me convinced he had found pirates treasure.  Immediately, I had recognized what it was, and shared his excitement.

I downloaded the app, created a free account and helped explain what it was and how you do it.

Geocaching, as the web site explains, is an anytime, anywhere adventure using a smartphone or GPS device.  There are millions of geocaches, in all sizes and types of locations around the world.  All you have to do is choose the one you want to go and start navigation.  Your device will tell you when you are near the geocache some are obvious, some you really have to search for!  Find the geocache which is basically a container with trinkets exchange your items and sign the log book.  You can leave messages, and log it on your phone as well.

With summer vacation just starting, and many people traveling, Geocaching is a great way to get out there and explore either new or familiar surroundings.  For children, its a great way to engage with them and capture their attention while getting them up and moving and outside.  They also are developing their sense of direction, and have to learn left from right, north and south, east and west, and how to read a map, street signs, etc.  So whether you are hiking, traveling, or just walking somewhere its bound to keep things interesting (and educational).  As a mostly stay-at-home mom, Im always looking for field trips and activities to keep my kids from getting bored.  It would make a great adventure for adults, as well!

On the last day of school, I had set up a play date with a friend and her daughter to go geocaching together.  That night, we went home to prepare for our adventure.  Since geocaching is an exchange of items, we decided to make some bracelets using string and pony beads:

I tried to keep it simple, but my jar of beads ended up getting knocked over anyways :)

We wrote notes on little cards we made, signed them, and wrapped the bracelets around the note to stick inside for the next geocacher to find:

We live in an area with many foot paths, hiking trails, and gorges that bring you away from traffic, without going so far as to exhaust the young ones.  So we found a geocache location perfect for a short trip and started out.

My middle child designated himself as map holder, and everyone pitched in to help find it:

This one was tough to find, as it was hidden in a crevice between two rocks, with another small rock covering it up.  The kids were very patient, and we exchanged trinkets.  We then signed the log book in the geocache box, and on our phone.  Its important to place the geocache back where you found it so as not to mislead the next geocacher:

Geocaching can be a short, fifteen minute journey, or an all day hike.  This is one reason why its perfect for little ones you can make it quick, depending on their mood, or if everyone is having fun, you can continue on to find many locations.

Tips for an all-day adventure:

  • Check the forecast, and dress accordingly (with comfortable shoes this may seem like a no-brainer, but I always seem to wear casual sneakers and end up wishing I wore my running shoes)
  • Pack snacks, plenty of water, an umbrella, maybe a change of clothes if hiking, in a back pack
  • Bring trinkets to exchange although not required, it adds to the experience and everyone has something to share.
  • Consider planning your adventure ahead of time Geocache can be accessed through a web browser on a home computer where you can search locations and plan your route.  To add to the experience, you can purchase trackables in the Geocache Store like this one we found below.  Each one has a unique tracking code on the back that you can log on the website, and see how far its traveled.  You take this with you and move it to the next geocache container you find.

We cant wait to get started again!