If you love the outdoors, it is only natural to teach your children about its wonders. Geocaching offers you a great way to do just that. It’s a high-tech treasure hunt that can help engage your kids in the natural world.

Geocaching uses a GPS handheld device to find where items are hidden by their coordinates. Once you find the ‘cache’ (a waterproof box usually containing a logbook and/or treasure (trinket), depending on the size and difficulty) you sign your handle that you have made up and the date. Then you take one of the treasures, always replacing it with one that you brought along with you for the next person to find. There are millions of geocaches all over the world and hundreds, sometimes thousands in your immediate area.

It can become quite extensive and involved if you become deep into it; things like multi-caches, underwater caches, mystery/puzzle caches, cache events and so on. The kids and I usually do the simple traditional cache. To find out more about it, visit Geocaching.com and it covers all your basics and beyond.

I started geocaching with the kids 2 years ago, with just the older ones to begin with since it tends to involve going through some brush/heavy vegetative areas. I recall one cache we had was next to a low ditch and we were eaten alive by zebra mosquitoes before we could even find it. The little ones were just too young for it (ages 1 and 2).

A and C with a friend of theirs, go through the treasures in one cache we found on a hike.

C and A stand with a medium size cache (Comic book hero themed even!)

 

A finding his first ever cache

Geocaching has helped us explore more of our own neighborhood and our city. Our very first cache was in our neighborhood park and it was very exciting for the kids. It was a small film container with just a logbook in it. My oldest told me it reminded him of Indian Jones. Bonus! Since then we’ve done about 100+ caches together and I am looking forward to doing some with the younger ones when the weather gets cooler. Where we live, it is not a big summer-time activity, as it is just too hot to be out tramping in the sun and woods. A great combo is geocaching when we go camping (something I LOVE to do, even in the high heat of summer, regrettably).

My favorite app (for android) for geocaching is GeoBeagle. It has a radar with it and you can log online all your caches and note the apperance of it and whether it needs to be replaced or leave notes for the owners. It also tells you difficulty level, size (to know what kind of trinket to bring to replace) and if it is part of a multi-cache etc. I always look first for the ones that have trinkets, because the kids love to have a prize at the end of a trek.

What to bring? Treat a geocaching-hunt as you would any hike by dressing your kids comfortably for the outdoors and carrying essential supplies such as water and snacks. I also wouldn’t forget the bug spray. You will need a handheld GPS reciever, we use the app GeoBeagle and GPS on my Android Phone.

Caches often contain small trade items or trinkets. The rule of geocaching is that if you take something from the cache, you must replace it with something of equal or greater value. So, have the kids pack an assortment of trinkets for trading.

Once you find the cache, take something from it, leave something behind (though you don’t HAVE to trade), and write in the log book. When replacing the cache, make sure you put just as you found it and don’t leave any markers or anything to show it is there, or move it for a better hiding spot.  When we get home, we then all log online to our cache account to leave any comments about the cache.

It is great fun and the kids absolutely love it. It can be done at home or on vacation or any kind of trip since they are all over the world AND IN SPACE! (There is one on the ISS currently!)

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<img src=”http://mommyhack.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/07/MG_6151.jpg” alt=”” width=”360″ height=”266″ />

Kids enjoying the food outside the Yum Yum Cupcake truck.

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A little girl checking out Mama&#39;s Fixin&#39;s truck menu

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<a href=”http://mommyhack.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/07/MG_6133.jpg”><img class=”size-full wp-image-779″ title=”Food Truck Bazaar” src=”http://mommyhack.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/07/MG_6133.jpg” alt=”” width=”480″ height=”306″ /></a>

The Big Wheel Provisions truck

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