Right now, we’re 2 for 6.
That’s right–2/6. 2:6?
And today we totally thought we had one, but we didn’t.
We’ll masters by wintertime, after a fall of not worrying about poison ivy or scratched legs or sunburn.
We’ll move from ‘navigating to geocache’ to using the map or compass (on the phone, of course), and maybe the kids will even have their own Geomate.jr.
We’ll know every attribute symbol by heart.
Decrypting hints will become second-nature. ROT13, anyone?
We’ll look for–and log–trackables or travel bugs and never alert the muggles.
Every logbook will have our initials, and we’ll know exactly how to read d/t (levels of difficulty and terrain, hello) like the back of our hand.
I’m talking ‘geocaching’ here if you haven’t already guessed, and after becoming geocachers this July, we’re hooked. Seriously hooked.
Well, most of us are.
Here’s the skinny. . .
Geocaching–What it is & Why We’re Hooked:
So ‘geocaching’. What on earth is it, anyway?
Geocaching is a free real-world outdoor treasure hunt. Players try to locate hidden containers, called geocaches, using a smartphone or GPS and can then share their experiences online (straight from the Geocaching site, yo!).
Boys’ Life Series: Let’s Go Geocaching by John Mckinney got us interested in geocaching. . .
but the search is what got us hooked!
What does ‘geocaching’ mean?
‘Geo’ refers to ‘geography’ and a ‘cache’ is a container (strange, I know, but pronounced ‘cash’), so ‘geocaching’ is simply the act of hiding–or seeking–a little container using geographical coordinates. Or you can look at it as ‘geo’ meaning ‘earth’ and interpret ‘geocaching’ as finding a small container somewhere outdoors. Either way works.
Before we got started, we did a little reading.
We found Boys’ Life Series: Let’s Go Geocaching by John Mckinney at the library. We read it cover to cover and renewed it three times. No joke. I found it extremely easy to understand and at a perfect level of difficulty for Maddy and Owen to read independently.
We poked around on the geocaching site.
We decoded a hint or two. We were ready!
So what did we do next? How’d we go from reading about geocaching to becoming geocachers?
- We visited the website: geocaching.com. And we played around, watching the video, reading about the caches close to us, and registering on the site. It’s all free unless you want to upgrade to a premium membership, which (shhhhh!) we did after our first find.
- Then we downloaded the app: geocaching for smartphones. (But you do not necessarily need a smartphone to geocache!! You do need to have a GPS device or a GPS-enabled phone to navigate to the cache, though.)
- We found the cache closest to where we wanted to begin, we read the logs, decoded the hint, and we clicked ‘navigate to cache’.
- Finally, we jumped in the car and headed out for our first cache!
Maddy navigates to our first geocache. . .
. . . and we tried and tried. . .
. . . and tried some more. . .
And we FOUND IT!!
This one was a micro, so no treasures–just a teeny, tiny log that we signed.
And then we danced around.
It. Was. Awesome.
We were instantly hooked.
Geocaching is like a treasure hunt outdoors. It’s a secret club that makes us look at our surroundings a little differently.
For some reason, it makes this great, big world seem a little . . . smaller. Like the whole world’s really a big playground.
Near one of our most favorite parks. . .
. . . we geocached up to 7 meters away from the cache but just couldn’t find it!
Every time we get in the car now, Owen asks, Can I see your phone? I want to find a closeby geocache.
So he pokes around, reads a few logs, and gets us on track to find one–when we’re running errands, when we’re at the park, when we’re on our way home, when we just need a fun diversion.
Geocaches. Are. Everywhere.
And like I said, we’re 2 for 6. We’ve found two. We tried for six.
Our record’s not great. But we’re still hooked, and that should tell you something.
Owen unrolls our second find–
which was hidden near our bank, grocery, gas station–right in the center of town!
We’re lucky with micros (super, small, teeny-tiny geocaches) but not so lucky with the bigger ones. But since most of the bigger ones are in the woods–or a little deeper out of sight, we’re going for those this fall.
I’m sure I’m missing some big geocaching pieces here, but for the recreational geocacher–especially for the family with young children–we’re enjoying it.
And this mama believes geocaching is the ultimate sneaky-fun learning:
- we’re looking at distances as we navigate to caches and giving the kids a sense of how far x-amount of feet or meters is from us;
- we’re figuring out our position in relation to the cache;
- we’re using direction–north, south, east, west–as we decide which way to walk;
- we’re employing our critical thinking skills as we decode the hint and interpret what it means;
- we’re reading past logs and synthesizing responses;
- we’re getting out in nature, exploring our parks, routes, walks, and world in a way we haven’t experienced;
- we’re looking at our surroundings with closer eyes and careful steps;
- we’re practicing the difficult skills of patience, endurance, and handling disappointment;
- we’re learning–each time!–and are excited to become better at our geocaching skills.
And that’s it–we’ve been geocachin’ fools for a good two months now, so we’ll just catchya in the logbooks, okay? And any advice, ideas, suggestions, or resources YOU have, I’d love to see! We’re newbies–and we want to learn!
Some geocaching resources for the newbies: