Do you remember how excited you used to get when some adult mentioned the words “Treasure Hunt?” What if I told you that millions, yes millions, of people are setting up treasure hunts all around the world (many of which are probably right in your neighbourhood), and are just waiting for you to participate?
Yes, I’m talking about Geocaching, and if you haven’t tried it yet, you really need to give it a shot. Before kids, my husband and I went all the time. Then we had pregnancy, and babies and strollers and wobbly toddlers and extreme exhaustion. Now that we have kid-sized kids, we can easily go again! Yay!
I’m glad you asked.
I’m telling you anyway.
According to the geocaching website, there are around 2.5 million geocaches and 6 million players worldwide. In basic terms, a geocache is container that is hidden somewhere (like a hole in a tree stump in a forest). The cache usually contains a log book, some instructions, and a few small tokens or toys. (Note: if you’re a real pirate and in this for profit … look elsewhere). The location of the cache is recorded in a database on the web using GPS coordinates.
Players use a GPS unit to locate the cache, then they can trade tokens, log their visit, and return it to the hiding spot. There are many variations, such as multi-caches (which require you to find a series of caches which lead to each other), or puzzle caches (which require players to solve clues to get the correct coordinates). There are varying levels, and extremely diverse locations. There are caches on the tops of mountains, and ones that require scuba gear. There are caches in your neighbourhood park and caches in Kazakhstan (well, as far as I know, your neighbourhood might be IN Kazakhstan… but you get my point).
Since the last time we did it, Geocaching has become exponentially easier. Before, we had to look up caches individually online at home and enter coordinates one number at a time using a joystick-like device on an old GPS unit. (Then we took our horse and buggy, uphill both ways, in three feet of snow…..)
Anyhow, now there’s an app for that.
All you need to do is whip out your smartphone, click on a geocaching app and it will download the locations of all nearby caches. Pick the one you want, and it will direct you there. You can even log your successful finds and add photos.
In my view, Geocaching is a very effective way of integrating nature-time and computer technology. Can you think of an easier way of getting kids into nature? “Hey kids, let’s go play with satellite technology and look for hidden treasure.” I don’t think there are many children who would turn down this kind of adventure. Also, it is a fabulous way to find all the best hidden greenspaces in your community. We found so many beautiful places while geocaching, some of which we would never have found otherwise.
So, whether you’re a pirate wannabe or simply a nature enthusiast, give it a try! If you know me personally, I’d be happy to show you sometime.