Geocaching with Kids

Geocaching with KidsGeocaching---the GPS treasure-hunt game---is a great way to introduce children to trails, navigation and hiking. Adults might seek adventurous terrain and challenging geocache hides, but keep it easy if you're out with the little ones. Involve children in all aspects of the geocache, from selecting the hidden cache online, to setting the coordinates in the GPS receiver, to following the trail and signing the log, trading items and posting the find online after the geocache is found. These tips make geocaching a fun and educational game of hide and seek.
 

Instructions

Difficulty: Moderately Easy

Kid-Friendly Caching

Things You’ll Need:
  • Internet access
  • Handheld GPS receiver
  • Day-hiking pack with necessities
  • Trade items
 
Step 1
Go to the geocaching website and choose a traditional cache that is bigger than a micro-cache. Kids like to find treasures in the cache to trade with what they've brought. Select a cache that is rated no more difficult than 1.5.
Step 2
Help kids select items to trade with what they find in a cache. The rule is if you take something from the cache, leave something of equal or higher value. Small toys, trading cards and gift certificates might be traded, but don't leave food or liquids that could leak.
Step 3
Limit the walking distance to and from the cache to your kids' abilities, or be prepared to carry them. For kids younger than teens, a total hike of a mile on easy terrain is usually plenty. Select a terrain rating of no higher than 2.0.
Step 4
Prepare for hiking with kids. Pack your GPS receiver, cell phone, minor first aid items like bandages and antiseptic wipes, a small bag for carrying out trash, bug spray and sun screen. Don't forget snacks and water or juice.
Step 5
Teach your children how to read the map online and then to follow navigation directions or compass on your GPS receiver as you head to the cache.
Step 6
Plot the travels of tagged hitchhiker items, like Travel Bugs, if you pick one up from a cache or move one to a new cache. Show kids how to view the Travel Bug's journey in mapping applications like Google Earth. Add your own chapter to the Travel Bug's online story log.
Step 7
Take rests when necessary. The point of geocaching with kids is to have fun and share your love of the outdoors.
 

Tips & Warnings

 
Bring a camera to shoot pictures of wildlife and nature. Post them on the geocaching website when you log your find.
 
Teach children to identify and avoid plants that can cause allergic reactions, like poison ivy and poison oak.
 
Apply bug spray containing DEET and check carefully afterward for ticks, which can carry Lyme disease and other illnesses.
 
Teach children not to put their hands in a hole where an animal or stinging insect might be. Use a stick if you need to poke around.
 
Be aware of hunting season where you're hiking. Avoid hunting areas or wear blaze-orange.

Article Written By Susan Spencer

Since 2000, Susan Spencer has contributed to the "Worcester Telegram & Gazette," "Cape Cod Life," "Worcester Living," "Sister 2 Sister," CapeCodToday.com and other publications. She specializes in health, education, culture and lifestyle, the outdoors/environment, and regional travel. She has a B.A. from Dartmouth College and an M.S. from Harvard School of Public Health.

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