Fun in the Summer Sun: Geocaching with Kids

If you ask your kids to accompany you on a family hike through the world, they would probably, moan, groan and turn up the volume on their iPods.  On the on other hand, if you ask them come out for a fun-filled, high-tech treasure hunt with a satellite navigation system, they will start packing before you can even finish your sentence.Geocaching is the name of the game, and while adults love it, this activity can be just as fun for the kids as well.

Entertaining and Educational

Photo Credit: Springhurst.org

Photo Credit: Springhurst.org

With the kids involved, geocaching can purposely include an easier-to-find cache.  If you have older children, this can also be a great time to give in-depth lessons in geography, map reading and satellite navigation.  In fact, many caches have an educational aspect to them and may be closely associated with geological features or regional history.

The game really becomes exciting when the caches are hidden for kids, by other kids, as they often contain items most children find quite desirable.  Aside from the fun and educational aspects, geocaching makes a great scouting activity and provides an opportunity for parents to educate their kids in a fun fashion.

Getting Ready to Play

The main item used to locate the hidden container or cache is a handheld GPS device.  After the purchasing the receiver, the game is absolutely free to play.  Many kids find that learning how to operate the satellite navigation system is a big part of the fun.  Once they get familiar with the unit and are prepared to set out for the hunt, the next step is to register for a free geocaching account.  From there, you and your children can seek out caches by a number of parameters, such as postal code and keyword. There are well over 627,000 registered caches hidden all over the world, and you would be surprised at how many are located in your region.

Cache descriptions generally give you a lot of information, including details on the cache itself, the exact coordinates of the location, terrain ratings and difficulty, tips, clues and comments from others who have located the cache.  Because kids these days are tech savvy and smarter than ever, they can be active in the geocaching process from beginning to end.  Aside from working with the satellite navigation system and helping you find your way online, they might be able to come up with much better items to leave in the cache for other kids.

Helpful Tips

To ensure a safe, fun and educational experience, here some important tips for geocaching with kids:

  • Get the kids involved with every step.  This includes working with the GPS unit to finding caches online.
  • Bring along water, bug repellent and other items specific to the environment on the hunt.
  • Once you arrive at the coordinates, allow the kids to find the cache.
  • Make sure the children understand the ethics of cache treasures: take something, leave something.
  • Bring along a camera, notepad and pen to write down and record figures.
  • Incorporate geography, geology, science and history lessons whenever appropriate.

This summer, instead of languishing in front of the TV, children can learn and delight in the joys of geocaching!

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