What is this ‘Geocaching’ the kids keep talking about?

geocaching

Do you keep hearing the kids and teens talking about “Geocaching,” but don’t really know what it’s about? Or wonder why they think it’s so cool?

I love finding new adventure-type activities, but I’ll admit I had had it explained to me once and I honestly thought…”meh…that’s sounds really techy and a bit boring”…and I didn’t really get it.

It wasn’t until my Miss 14 had a weekend away with her friends family and came home telling me all about their adventures finding Geocaches that I actually got it and understood why kids…teens… and adults find it so interesting and possible a little bit addictive!

In a non-techy nutshell Geocaching is:

A techy version mashup of the games ‘Hide n Seek’ & ‘Hot n Cold’ kinda

…but with a heightened sense of success once you find it!

How does geocaching it work:

People all round the world hide waterproof containers using exact Longitude & Latitude coordinates with usually the following inside:

  • a small log books
  • a pencil
  • trinkets of some type

The cache hider then logs it on a Geocaching website with:

  • the GPS map coordinates to find it
  • descriptions of the access, terrain, landmarks etc
  • as well as some other helpful information

We, as the cache seeker, then have a look on the Geocaching website to see what geocaches are around where we are or where we want to go

We find lots of exciting looking ones and set off in search with a GPS enabled device with Internet or 3G access (eg. GPSs, smartphones, tablets etc) to track it down.

(We usually use a iphone with Geocaching app installed or an ipad with the app as the picture is bigger.)

Once you’re in the right location, actually finding them adds another element as some are tucked away in spots really hard to find, whereas some stick out like sore thumbs.

Once you have found a Geocache :

  • You wooohoo excitedly because you found one!
  • Open it up.
  • Read any notes inside for any specific instructions.
  •  Write in the notebook the date, your username and any comment.
  • If there are any trinkets to swap, pop your swap in and that one out (if you have nothing to swap its kind of bad manners to take anything).
  • Then place all items back in the container, seal it up and put back in exactly the same position you found it.
  • Look up, look out and take a look at the surroundings that you may have never seen without finding this Geocache.

On the website, then comment on this geocache that you have found it and something else…like “stunning hike along the way”…”had to crawl under a overgrown blackberry busies to get it”…”really tricky find, but well worth it”

Then search the website for your next Geocaching adventure…

Why do kids and teens love geocaching so much?

geocaching

  • They say it’s because it gives ‘going for a walk’ a whole new meaning.
  • There are things to find (always exciting)
  • It takes you to places you haven’t been before that you didn’t know existed
  • Always exciting to read when the last person in the log book found it (can be 1 hour or a week ago) and to see the vast numbers of entries in a log book.
  • They get to use technology for it.
  • It provides a small amount of independence that a parent can adjust to the age appropriateness (eg. Young ones can be in charge of the gps, or can lead the pack, or older ones can in safe areas track them with groups of friends).
  • And it’s actually lots of fun!

Have a think about hiding geocaches in your area as a family yourself!

You have to follow the rules to the letter, but this is really fun thing we took part in this summer as a family and we put together some cool wee geocache packs in great locations and logged them up to the site.

Miss 14 is on tender hooks just waiting for someone to find them and for it to pop up on our username.

There are loads of different geocaching sites around, including apps for smartphones. Have a look around and find one that suits you.

To give you an idea of how many are around:

  • Wellington has 6687
  • Christchurch has 3307
  • New York has 37342
  • Samoa even has 15 !!!

Tips for finding geocaches:

  • Start with the easy ones with easy terrain and not too far from where you are.
  • Be prepared to scramble under low hanging rocks, scraggly bushes and other random things.
  • Think about obvious places they may be placed but also outside the square about where they may be.
  • Always respect other people’s property.

Tips for setting your own geocaches:

Read the guidelines on the website thoroughly first.

Gather your waterproof containers, log books and trinkets ahead of time.

Write down a list of great locations to hide them, but check the site to see there is not already lots close by already.

Really think outside the square of possible locations and places that people would love to go.

Think about how you will maintain it. (eg. If really popular, cache log book will fill up really fast, trinkets may need replenishing, containers sometimes break…)

Keeping safe geocaching:

Personally, I wouldn’t log one too close to my house

Geocache with parents permission and with supervision

Kids and teens always geocache with someone else

Never share personal details online

If your geocaching adventuring is taking you out into the bush or a long way, take normal precautions such as warm clothes, waterproof gear, sturdy shoes, food, sun protection etc…

So now I finally get what this geocaching is that all the kids are talking about and I hope it’s now given you an understanding too.  It exceeded my expectations about how cool it was and every kid or teen we have since introduced it too has been soon captured by the geocaching bug and has their family taking part now too.

It’s a free, fun, healthy, get outside and get active activity that the whole family can take part in in some capacity.

Are you keen to try geocaching with your kids?

Do you already geocache?  What do you think of it?

Useful geocaching links:

Geocaching sites:

www.geocaching.com

www.geocaching.com.au

A place to buy all things geocaching:

www.kiwicachers.co.nz

Info on all the ins and outs of geocaching and interesting variations:

www.maptoaster.com/maptoaster-topo-nz/articles/geocaching/geocaching.html

Pip

Pip manages a busy office by day and is a closest blogger and computer geek by night. She writes about Parenting, City Living, Teenagers, Adventures, Faith, Travel, Single Parent families and whatever else takes her fancy, over on her blog www.wellingtonchic

She is precariously navigating an adventure filled life as a single parent to a very busy teenager and fits in her writing (via a 3.5 inch screen) whilst standing in Supermarket queues or on the sidelines of sports practices.

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  • kiwinutter r

    We love geocaching – so much fun for all ages 🙂

    • Wellington Chic

      It is so much fun kiwinutter r and I love that I’m coming across it more and more.

      We were camping last weekend and walking through the bush and came across another family ‘counting down the Geocaching coordinates’ as they walked closer to their ‘treasure’ as they called it.
      The little girl told me all about it and how exciting it was and I whole heatedly agreed.

      Are you finding plenty of Geocache’s in the areas you go?
      Have you thought about placing and logging some yourselves?

      WC 🙂

      • kiwinutter r

        We’re down South and certainly find plenty of geocaches down here (heading off to something soon and I must have a quick check to see if there are any caches to look for). We have set our own up and enjoy watching people hunting in completely the wrong place 😀 It’s good to have it on our property (away from the house) as it makes it really easy to check regularly.

        • Wellington Chic

          That must be such a fun part, seeing people hunting in completely the wrong spot. I imagine sometimes your kinda itching to go help them out, but leaving them to it so they can work it out for themselves!
          Have people been good at putting them back in the same place etc…?

          WC 🙂

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