The Treasure Hunt

 Day 316

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.

Here is an example of a medium sized geocache, labeled as an "easy find".

Here is an example of a medium sized geocache, labeled as an “easy find”.

There is a logbook inside for the finder to sign.  There is also a digital version of this on the geocache website where you can report problems or say thanks to the "owner" which is the person who placed the cache

There is a logbook inside for the finder to sign. There is also a digital version of this on the geocache website where you can report problems or say thanks to the “owner” which is the person who placed the cache

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.

Who doesn't love a jar full of plastic toys?

Who doesn’t love a jar full of plastic toys?

 


11 Responses to The Treasure Hunt

  1. We recently discovered letterboxing, which is very similar to geocaching but without the GPS. You use written instructions to locate a container that has a logbook and a rubber stamp inside. My family loves it. We usually pack a picnic and go treasure hunting at least 2-3 times a month. Such a fun way to spend the day!

  2. Been there, done that! The girls will actually hike Canelback wirh Brian. It’s getting me out of the house now!

  3. You are lucky! On our first (and last) geocaching outing my kids quickly figured out that it was a HIKE in disguise. It was exciting when they did the toy trade, but never enough motivation for them to go again…. 🙁

  4. I love geocaching. My aunt introduced my husband and I to it. I think she shocked my husband when at a tourist spot she left the designated path and started scrambling up the side of a mountain (okay, really big hill). But we found the cache in the top of a tree. we’ve done it several times since then, but can’t find the cache that’s around the corner from our apartment–go figure.

  5. We’re seasoned Geocachers! We print the cache info. before we leave and have the kids decode the clues on the drive to the trail. It was tons of fun in Alaska! Went places we wouldn’t have gone otherwise!

  6. So cool! I should have known you were a fellow geocacher. I did a unit at school a few years ago with Grade 5/6 kids. We made our own Geocache and also hunted out a few in the local area. It had me pulling up in some strange places on road trips. Haven’t done one in forever – need to get a GPS, again. When I can buy something new maybe.

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