My husband and I love to hike. While others plan dinner out for “date night”, we have been known to hire a babysitter for a Saturday afternoon trek. He asked me to marry him while on a winter hike, also known as snowshoeing. For many years, it was our primary hobby.
Then we had children.
There were many “shorter” nervous hikes in the beginning with babies strapped to our back in fancy carrying devices. We got nowhere fast.
Then, the kids got old enough that they alternated between not wanting to be carried (I WALK, I WALK) and then insisted on being carried (MY LEGS HURT). We got nowhere fast.
Now our kids are technically old enough to propel themselves through the woods and will occasionally surprise us by choosing to play along and enjoy a nice 3-5 mile jaunt with no complaints and actually act as if they are enjoying themselves (or rather not being tortured) But this is the exception, because generally speaking when you ask our school age children if they want to go on a hike, they throw themselves into pile and start moaning about how they don’t want to HIGH-EYE-KKKK and that we just went on a HIGH-EYE-KKK last week.
So while hiking is not on the must do list for most kids, treasure hunting is a different story, which is why we love geocaching so much. If you haven’t heard of geocaching, it is basically a game in you can personally use billions of dollars of global positioning satellites to find Tupperware containers wedged into crevices.
Doesn’t that sound fun? It is, I promise.
Sites like geocaching.com can explain it in much more detail, it is actually pretty easy, but just requires a little planning before you leave the house. The basic premise is that using GPS coordinates you navigate yourself to a hidden cache. They are all shapes and sizes, are all over the world and are placed by other players. I am willing to bet that wherever you live, there a couple hiding somewhere you have passed dozens of times. The geocache site has a list of caches worldwide.
Our kids love the game and will scurry along for a mile or two down a trail staring at a GPS screen and then scramble around trying to find the booty usually arguing about who is going to look where.
“I was going to look under that root.”
“You looked under the rock, it’s my turn to look under the root.”
Depending on their size they are usually filled with “treasures” like small plastic toys. The rules are that if you take something out of the cache, you leave something.
It is a perfect Simple Year activity. Nothing needs to be purchased and it is a zero sum gain on the plastic toy situation. Although, we already own a handheld GPS unit, but if you don’t there are inexpensive apps for smart phones that work as well. Here is a list here and here. If you want to rent a unit, you can try this online company although many local outdoor and sporting stores will rent them locally as well.
I guess simple, for us, boils down to an afternoon spent somewhere in a park or in the woods even if it has a high tech element.
Geocaching is a great hobby for everyone but if you have questions about the logistics of geocaching with kids, I’m happy to answer them. The best general source of information is the site I mentioned before, you can find it here.