Who doesn’t like a treasure hunt? Geocaching, is just that-a treasure hunt–and it is a wonderful way to get your kids outside. Even adults will enjoy this family activity. The first step is to download the Geocaching app on your phone. The free version is good enough to get you started. However, the great majority of caches are locked for free-version users. If you find yourself loving geocaching, it would be worth paying for the annual subscription, which is currently $29.99/year.

So how does it work? The app locates caches near you. You can download the data to your phone so that you don’t use data when hunting. Click “Navigate” in the app and it will help you track the treasure down using the cache’s coordinates. There are usually hints to help you find them. They have to be visible (not buried, for example), but they are not always obvious. The coordinates will get you close to the location, but you will still have to hunt. Sometimes you won’t find the cache, either because you missed it or because it has been removed or stolen but not reported on the app. But the more you hunt, the more accustomed you’ll become to how to look for them. After you are done, log your find (or log DNF–did not find) on the app. Caches can range from very tiny, to large, to the “cache” being the actual place itself (like leading you to a waterfall or WWII bunker, for example). There are usually trinkets inside the caches; etiquette dictates that if you take something, you should leave something, so you may want to gather some small toys to leave. At the very least, most caches have a log you can write in with your name, date, and a short message. The best thing you can find in a cache, in my opinion, is a travel bug. This is a simple tag with a code on it. You can take it home with you, visit the website on the tag, and enter your code. It will tell you everywhere the travel bug has been. The last one we had found had been over 40,000 miles around the world!! Log the travel bug as found and then plant it in the next cache you find as soon as possible so it can continue on its journey! Once you have some experience finding caches, you can even hide your own! You can purchase travel bugs and other supplies (like “Official Geocache” boxes) online. Make sure you read the rules about where to plant a cache and how to record it on the app!

Geocaching is great fun and has been know to keep my kids moving even when they are at their most irritable and cranky!

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