When it comes to getting outside, let’s face it, it can sometimes be difficult to motivate the kids. Across the globe however, the once relatively obscure hobby of Geocaching is breaking down some of the barriers associated with getting our little millennials, and their families, exploring new places together in the great outdoors.
It is also becoming increasingly popular with adults looking for options to escape and get more active green time.
No idea of what Geocaching actually is? Think of it as a high-tech type treasure hunt combined with elements of ‘hide and seek’. Geocaching gives a secondary objective when hitting the trails, that being using a GPS device to hunt and find hidden trinkets, adding your geocache handle, rather than your real name, to the log book of conquests and then geeking out with statistics once logged online.
Who can Geocache? Anyone. The beauty of Geocaching is that it can be undertaken by people of all ages and abilities. Each cache is generally labelled with information as to whether or not it is suitable for children, what the terrain is like, any equipment that might be required to access it and much more. This means that it’s really easy to find caches that suit your family’s needs, whether you are looking for something wheelchair accessible or stroller- friendly. Caches do range in difficulty, so it can be either the perfect option to explore a new area on foot or a family activity for all ages.
Kids can be actively involved in all aspects of the hunt, selecting the desired geocache targets, helping with navigation, and searching the final location for the cache itself. The encounters with plants, animals, the team work involved if they are working in a family unit and finding the treasure itself, provides many an adventure with each outing.
What Are The Rules? Typically the geocache is hidden to ensure non- geocachers (“muggles”) do not find it. Rule one, never uncover caches in front of ‘muggles’ to prevent them being stolen or damaged.
Be careful sharing photos of caches’ locations to avoid spoiling the fun for other treasure hunters and finally if you remove a cache, you must leave something in its place.
How Geocaching Works: Geocaching involves a worldwide network of hidden caches that can be discovered with the use of a simple GPS handheld device or smartphone, to hike to the given coordinates using the compass function.
Geocachers navigate to the specific set of GPS coordinates in the area, which consist of two numbers, the latitude and longitude. The GPS receiver will guide the geocacher to that location, however the finder must still search for the treasure, within a small radius which is what makes geocaching all the more fun.
We Are Looking For What Exactly? Treasures! You are looking for something that doesn’t look quite ‘right’, like an odd pile of rocks or sticks that would make a good hiding spot for a container. Typical cache treasures are not high in monetary value but are interesting to the finder.
A geocache is typically a waterproof container the size of a lunch box where people leave small trinkets, coins or little toys similar to that which you’d find in a Christmas bon-bon. Caches usually contain a small logbook as well. Occasionally, you might find special items like a Travel Bug. These have tags that can be tracked via geocaching websites where the owner can log into their geocache account online and see to where it has travelled.
There are a wide variety of different types of geocaches- the main ones being: Traditional - basic container and log sheet, Multi-Cache - two or more locations that include ‘hints’, Mystery - solve clues to determine coordinates and Virtual - find a landmark or location instead of container.
Found the Cache - What Next? You sign the logbook with your geocaching handle and write a line or two about your find, then you are allowed to take a treasure remembering to leave one in exchange. After returning home, log your cache finds on the website.
You can also decide to make your own cache and you are only limited by your own creativity. The cache will have to be submitted and approved, mainly to ensure you have the permission of the landowner and that the waypoint is not too close to a pre-existing cache.
Getting Started- What Do We Need? A mobile phone and a pen and an app, it’s literally that easy to give it a go.
Essentially geocaching is a catalyst for escape, exploration and getting outside. Whether in far off places or in your own neighbourhood, it provides a tangible reason for venturing to unknown locations you more than likely would not have visited. Geocaching turns the entire day into a fun, enjoyable and memorable adventure for the little kid in all of us.