We love exploring the countryside around our home, but we often find it difficult to motivate young children that don’t want to walk very far. We have found that geocaching is a really good way to persuade children (and adults too) to get outdoors and have fun, as well as discovering new places to visit nearby that might otherwise be overlooked.
Geocaching is basically a hunt for treasure. A geocache is a small container which contains a few small items and a notebook for finders to record their names. Geocaches are hidden all over the world and range in size from tiny canisters to large boxes. When someone hides a geocache they record the co-ordinates online so that others can hunt for it.
In order to find a geocache you do need to have a GPS enabled device, but these days most smartphones have GPS capabilities. The largest website which tracks geocaches is www.geocaching.com, where you can also find lots more information about the hobby. You can create a free account to hunt for geocaches, but we have found it most useful to download an app – we use the Groundspeak Geocaching Application. It does cost a few pounds, but in my opinion it is definitely worth it. Older children can help you use the device to find the geocache, and younger children can be given some clues as you approach.
Geocaches are usually well hidden, so there will be some hunting around in tree trunks and logs or behind rocks, possibly producing some bemused looks from other people nearby! Once you have found the geocache, if you are going to take something away it is good form to leave something behind – the treasure is usually low value, and by necessity something that can be left outside for long periods, for example a small toy, pen or key ring.
There really are geocaches all over the place. We downloaded the app and discovered that there was even one at the bottom of our road! They are frequently found in local beauty spots and places of interest, and often located near to a handy car park. You could even combine several nearby caches for a longer trip out. Promising the children a treasure hunt is a sure fire way to get them out the house!