Geocaching is a great outdoor activity for kids of all ages. This treasure hunting game is an opportunity to learn about nature, to problem-solve puzzles, and to respectfully take part in a community with proper etiquette. Best of all, geocaching is fun, cheap and easy to learn.
If you’ve never gone geocaching before, don’t worry! This resource guide will help you learn everything you need to know, particularly how to include the kids.
A Beginner’s Guide to Geocaching: This PDF from the University off Connecticut lays out step-by-step instructions using a Geocaching.com account.
Family Adventures – Geocaching with Kids: This mom gave a great overview of how geocaching works and how she tailors the activity for her kids.
Geocaching – Wikepedia: This wiki article gives a quick, no-nonsense rundown on the history and xxx of geocaching, including types and variations of caches.
What You’ll Need
10 Things to Bring on Every Hike: You can certainly stick to your own neighborhood and skip these items, but any time you plan to be outside for a while, you’ll want these extra things.
9 Geocaching Tools: While not totally necessary, these inexpensive tools can help make geocaching easier, from finding metal containers to retractable mirrors and log rollers.
Choosing a GPS
Guide to Buying a GPS Device: From the biggest geocaching website, this article helps you decide between using a standalone GPS device and a mobile phone with built in GPS.
Garmin GPS for Geocaching: The world’s best-known GPS brand now offers a selection of handheld devices built for geocaching adventures.
What to Look for in a GPS: Keep your eye out for these features and specifications when shopping for a GPS for geocaching. This hiking blogger ranks her top three choices.
Geocaching for Android and iPhone: The largest geocaching app by Groundspeak offers a list of easy caches for free, which is great for the kids. Harder ones now cost $30 a year to access.
Cachly for iOS: This iPhone app is a popular, less expensive alternative to the industry giant Geocaching.com
c:geo for Android: A free, open-source geocaching app for Android devices.
Creating Your Own Geocache
5 Tips for a World Class Cache: These tips will help you make a fun and protected cache for many others to enjoy.
Things You Should Never Put in a Cache: Trial and error has shown some items are just not good for geocaching. Check out this experienced cacher’s list of “no-no” items.
How to Submit Your Geocache: This guide walks you through posting your cache information on the largest geocaching database.
Making it Educational
Geocaching with Kids: This article gives tips and ideas on how to incorporate geography, history, science and environmental learning into your geocaching adventures.
Geocaching Lesson Plans: A middle school teachers’ guide to fun, educational tie-ins to geocaching, including lessons on tree and insect identification as well as mystery set-ups complete with clues.
Geocaching and STEM: Another teachers’ guide to incorporating STEM and other educational materials into geocaching.
Including kids in geocaching doesn’t require many accommodations. Simply stay focused on safety and take the opportunity to teach your kids about geocaching etiquette.
Always make sure to bring extra water, food and appropriate clothing and shoes. Remember to wear long sleeves and bug repellent in heavily wooded areas to avoid ticks. Sunscreen and sunglasses are also a must for kids.
It’s important to make sure you have a fully charged phone, too, so bring a back up if you’re using your phone as a GPS device. You may even want to get a portable power back as a backup battery charger.
Don’t be afraid to call off the hunt if the cache seems to be in an unsafe area, whether it be too high or across a dangerous path. Always check for snakes and other critters before sticking your hands in or under anything. Using a stick and a retractable mirror to poke around first is a good idea.
Geocachers live by a simple code of conduct. If you take any “tokens” from a cache, be sure to have replace them with something of equal or greater value. Always leave the cache how and where you found it, and make sure to sign the log. If the cache looks broken or possibly exposed to the elements, place it in a secure, zip-close bag and let the owner of the cache know it needs attention.
Many geocachers are also big on taking care of the environment while they’re on the hunt. Help your kids learn to treat nature with care by bringing a plastic bag and gloves or a “grabber” to pick up garbage on your way.
Keeping it Affordable
While you want to make sure you have appropriate gear, you don’t need to spring for expensive hiking boots or a world class GPS system right away. Start small by using your smartphone as a GPS to find easier caches. Avoid geocaching during inclement or overly hot weather to negate the need for extra gear.