THINGS TO DO: Geocaching

12 March 2017

I've known about Geocaching for a while (my parents are grey nomads), but until today, it's never occurred to me to share it... up until today I would have described it as "Hide and Seek for Grown Ups"... ummm, or for grown ups who never grew up. Today everything changed.

Thomas and Lucas (age 3) are really into Jake and the Neverland Pirates at the moment. Today Grandma babysat Thomas for me and they went Geocaching together (he was wearing his Jake costume BTW). Mum rang me quite excited and told me that little Thomas had never been so excited in his life, and put him on the phone to me. I had no idea what had happened, he jumped on the phone and said "MUMMY, yo-yo Pirate Treasure"!!!  Ahhh, ok honey, that's really cool.

So Mum called me later to explain, for the first time I actually listened and asked questions about this Geocaching (sorry Mum, I usually zone out)... it actually sounds pretty cool, for kids, I'm not sure about my 60-year-old parents playing it by themselves, but hey, I'm not here to talk about that.

All about Geocaching

What is it?

Geocaching is a high-tech treasure hunting game where the aim is to locate secret containers that are hidden all over the world. There are over a million of these containers and they are listed on the Geocaching website.

I used to think of it as "Hide and Seek for Grown ups", now I think of it as "Worldwide Hide & Seek for everyone".

The aim of the game is to locate a little box that has stuff inside (trinkets), you can take something out, then you have to put something back in, and you log your journey along the way, sharing your experience with the community. 

You'll discover new places, you'll see cool things (e.g. cute Geocaching boxes that someone has made to look like a bird) and you'll have your own little (possibly) Pirate adventure.

How do you play?

Basically all you need is a free membership to the Geocaching website and some sort of GPS or GPS mobile device (e.g. just an iPhone!). Assuming you're using an iPhone, you'll download the Geocaching app. onto your phone and it will tell you where the closest Geocache is, you'll see it on the map.

Now, apparently this is very Harry Potter... I mean, secret. You MUST NOT get caught by Muggles. A Muggle is someone who doesn't understand the game, you don't want to be caught by them because they might just take the Geocache away, which would be very sad for the next person who comes along and tries to find it. If a Muggle is watching, you walk away, you can't risk being caught. (As I type this, I'm wondering whether something is going to happen when I post this blog, will someone jump out and banish me for exposing this magical game to the world?)

So, here's the steps:

  • You might be out and about, playing at a park and decide you want to find a Geocache, so you jump on your Geocache app. and look for the closest cache to where you are.
  • The map will take you quite close to your treasure and there may be a hint e.g. bottom of the tree, but then you have to locate it. The Geocache may be the size of a thimble or quite large. It will be in a water proof container.
  • You go searching... you get close... you search some more.... you find it, you open it, you log your secret name in the secret book.
  • You take something out and you put something in. You might find matchbox cars, a yo-yo, a bracelet, necklace, beads, rubber, pencil, a ring. (I'm pretty sure you're not going to find much real treasure, so make sure you're in it for the journey and not the prize).
  • You get home and log your journey on the website (as you may want to compete with your friends).

It appears that they run different things on the websites, competitions and challenges too... Mum said something about she 'had to' find a Geocache every day for some reason, for the next X amount of time (sorry I might have zoned out again... it happens).

Whilst you can play this game for free, there's also an option to become a premium member that gives you the right to plant your own Geocaches, and also put little trackable things in the cache. Mum planted a few in Brisbane and says they are now in: Saudia Arabia, UK, Northern New Zealand, South Australia and the Simpson Desert (she's also been known to kidnap gnomes and take them on holidays with her... does that explain a few things?)

Why do it?

You may be at a playground that you've been to a thousand times, apparently these Geocaches take you a little off track, off on a little adventure and let you find places you wouldn't have otherwise found.

Mum tells me that they go all over the place (they go camping around Australia to places that don't have flushing toilets... enough said). It's taken them to little creeks, they are forced to exercise, it makes you climb hills, go to rivers, go to playgrounds (why isn't she taking photos and sending me the reviews of these playgrounds????) and she even said she found this cute little creek with 6 inches of water not far from their house that the kids would absolutely love. She had no idea about these places until she started Geocaching.

Like camping? They are EVERYWHERE! Unfortunately us Muggles had no idea. I wonder how many Geocaching people have been reported for loitering and looking suspicious to us Muggles?

So, you could make a day of it with your kids, do it when you're camping, have a 'your turn, my turn' type day where you go to the coffee shop and tell your little one that if you sit here and let Mummy relax and chat for an hour we'll go on a treasure hunt (who knows, it could be 50 metres away!)

In summary

Thomas loved it so much that Mum and Dad are taking both of our kids out Geocaching tomorrow, honestly, as much as I tease my parents it does sound like a fantastic adventure for kids... with a great side of exercise and fresh air.

Next time you're sitting on that park bench, maybe you should get down on the ground and look under the chair to see if there's a little piece of treasure hiding there... if you're a Muggle, DON'T take it, just smile and know that you're in on the secret and hope you don't get zapped into a secret world by some wizards who know that you know. 

It's been a long day for me.

 

Want the lowdown on Pokemon Go? Check out our article: Pokemon Go – the craze explained.

Looking for way to encourage kids to get outdoors, try the story on Kids in the Garden or our Best spots for family nature play gallery.

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Kids on the Coast/Kids in the City
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