Michigan experienced a burst of spring so I took my nieces and nephew geocaching! They have been asking me about this GPS scavenger hunt activity for months. I love that they enjoy being outdoors, trying new actives and having fun together.
My nieces are 12 and 7, my nephew 10 (my other nieces are in their early 20s and we’ve been geocaching a few times, which I think led to the littles being excited about trying it!). My 12 year old niece and I did spend an afternoon geocaching a few years ago so her siblings were excited to become experienced and no longer branded ‘muggles’ (the fun term for those who don’t geocache. Yes, from Harry Potter; no, I didn’t make this up!)
If you’re unfamiliar with geocaching, I liken it to a scavenger hunt, only with GPS technology. You can use a smartphone (download the geocaching app) or GPS device. Create a free geocaching account, decide what type of caches you want to find (types are explained on the app and website), then navigate to the location. The cache may be micro, the size of a film canister, big or even virtual. Some are easy to find, others are frustratingly difficult. Once you find the cache, you sign your geocaching username in the logbook, return the cache to the exact location you found it (so someone else can find it!), and log your find on the app. They’re hidden low, high, in a tree, under water, in a pine cone, crevice, lamp post and somewhere in between. There are more than 2 million geocaches hidden throughout the world! Geocaching allows you to explore new places, or even visit again a place in your hometown. They’re hidden in urban locations, parks, rest stops, maybe on your street.
Geocaching is a fun activity that anyone can do! I’ve found caches throughout my travels. We stopped at a rest stop last summer on a road trip and while I waited for my friend, I pulled up my Geocaching app and found a cache!
Because I was with the kids, I prepared a bit in advance by pulling up a map of local caches around my house and theirs. I looked for easy finds so we could have success and fun on our first time out (who doesn’t like to register a win?!).
Some tips that made the activity fun for kids:
I showed then how to use the geocaching app so they could see the many caches hidden around us.
Once we got to the location close to where the geocache was hidden, they took turns using the app to navigate as we walked to the hidden location. Although the first stop, they were so excited that they jumped out of the car without the map and started running tree to tree, until I pointed out that they were in the opposite direction, lol.
The app shows your location to the cache in feet so once we got within a few feet, I encouraged them to use their eyes to search.
Since there were three of them, we rotated who led the search to the location, who pulled out the scroll to sign, who returned it to the location and clicked the “Found it!” button on the app to register the find. Everyone got to experience the fun!
We laughed a lot as we were trying to be stealth so not to attract attention of other people (you don’t someone to get curious and take the cache). They were so excited to find the cache that people probably just saw a group of kids and their aunt laughing.
We had a great time and they’re already talking about the next time….that ends with an ice cream stop!