Geocaching

Real Life Treasure Hunts

Geocaching is an outdoor activity that is similar to a treasure hunt. The goal of the activity is to find hidden containers known as caches or geocaches using a portable satellite navigation device called a Global Positioning System (GPS) receiver. Individuals who practice this activity (generally referred to as cachers or geocachers) place a cache in an outdoor location and post the cache’s latitudinal and longitudinal coordinates on the Internet. Other geocachers then use their GPS devices to download the coordinates and cache descriptions from the Internet in order to find the caches. Once the participant has found the cache, they may log their findings on the Internet.

There are a number of different types of caches. Physical caches include a logbook, pencil, and trade items (small objects left in the caches for geocachers to trade with one another – e.g. toys, key chains, etc.). Another type of cache is an earth cache, which highlights an area’s unique natural features.

Getting into geocaching can be fairly easy. If you don’t want to shell out for a GPS unit, there are a lot of smartphones with a GPS built in these days (we use our iPhones). Go to geocaching.com, pick a geocache to find, input the coordinates of your first target into your caching app or GPS, and head out on an adventure!

Here are a few tips for geocaching from your classroom:

1. Bring Snacks. Simple but true, you can bribe – I mean convince – a child to do just about anything with the right snack as incentive.

2. Be enthusiastic. Kids know fun when they see it. If you see geocaching as something fun, adventurous, and exciting, that enthusiasm is going to shine out your face like rainbows and they will want to be part of the action.

3. Plan geocaching outings that you know will provide SWAG. This part is easy, as mentioned earlier children love stuff. Geocaches have stuff in them. Plan on searching for geocaches with young ones that you know will provide them with cool stuff. Worried the geocache may not have the goods needed to keep your child’s attention? You’re an adult – use your super sneaky adult powers to have extra SWAG of your own on hand to suddenly make SWAG ‘appear’ as if from the geocache itself. Sort of like planting evidence but much more legal. After the planted SWAG is discovered enthusiastically, mention the next geocache with cool stuff is just around the corner…

4. Find caches that match the child’s skill set and ability. At every age of child development there are markers and goals for what children are capable of learning. Find a way to incorporate the learning goals for their age range into the caching experience. Think broadly about what this could entail, are they working on balance? Climbing? Counting? Over/under/up/down differentiating? Find the skills they seem naturally drawn to learning in their age range and work them into the adventure.

5. Make them part of the team. Children of any age, much like all other ages of humans beings, want to be included. When children are able to participate and contribute to something they see others doing with enthusiasm they will want to play a role themselves.