We have a new favourite activity in this house and it’s Geocaching, or as Matilda likes to call it ‘treasure hunting’. It’s something I’ve been meaning to do with the children for a long time, after all we already do the walks in the countryside so why not have a little fun along the way? It seemed like the natural extension and a great way to get us outdoors which we love doing and we autumn not that far off I’m already dreaming of tramping through the woods in our wellies and then returning home to snuggle up in front of our new log burner.
For those of you who haven’t come across Geocaching before it truly is like a treasure hunt where you look for cache’s that have been hidden around the world. In the past this would have meant following map coordinates or buying a hand held GPS but with the popularity of smartphones there is of course now an app for it.
Which is great as all you need now is your phone to instantly search for cache’s nearby and it’ll then guide you towards it. There are free apps but they limit the caches you can see so personally I think it’s worth paying for the premium version. There are a few out there but I stuck with the one from the ‘official’ geocaching site which is imaginatively called geocaching. It costs £6.99 for the app but that’s really not much to pay and is your only cost before starting your adventures so great value for money. They also make apps for both Android and iOS.
The site also has a great introduction page to tell you all about the world of geocaching, so if you’d like to read a bit more you can check that out here. But I don’t think it’s rocket science and once you’ll soon be ticking all your local caches off your list. The one tip I’d give is make use of the hint feature in the app which can help you navigate the last few metres to find a cache, some of them are VERY well hidden!
We decided to keep things simple and find the one nearest our house, I found it quite amusing that it’s on the same track that I’ve been walking Bracken up and down for the last 18 months. Hidden treasure right under my nose that whole time! We set out for the walk and then when we were a couple of hundred metres away I asked the kids if they wanted to help me find the hidden treasure. Children of that age have a short attention span so I didn’t think telling them a mile away was a good idea, no doubt they’d soon have got bored of finding the treasure and starting picking up sticks or something instead.
So I gave Matilda my phone with the map to the cache up and she directed us towards it, I love that this activity helps get them involved in using technology in a practical way rather than just looking at photos like they usually do. It also engages her in the activity and I guess longer term we can help teach her about direction and the compass.
Once we got closer I helped her and Henry climb into the undergrowth and find the cache hidden in the tree. They loved opening the box to see what was inside, although were a little disappointed I wouldn’t let them take a lolly out. We did fail to take anything with us to put in the cache to replace what we took though so need to remember that next time. Matilda was also worrying every time we saw someone else that they were going to find the treasure and take it all. Took a little explaining to convince her that it was safe.
Now we’ve found the first one we definitely have caught the bug and will start searching further afield. Not that we need to go too far mind, there are plenty within a few miles of home. I think I may take the kids out on the bike one day and we can search for them, I can ride reasonably close and then get them to guide us the last bit and find it.
I know a lot of you are doing Geocaching already so would love to hear about your experiences, I’m also interested to know whether older children enjoy it as much? It seems like such a simple and cheap activity that a lot of different ages would enjoy so I hope we can make it a regular part of our walks now.