Goin’ On A Treasure Hunt

by Erin

Ever heard of geocaching?? Yah, me neither until about a week ago. I came across it while surfing blog land. It sounded interesting so I had to learn more.

From Wikipedia:

Geocaching is an outdoor activity in which the participants use a Global Positioning System (GPS) receiver or other navigational techniques to hide and seek containers, called “geocaches” or “caches”, anywhere in the world. A typical cache is a small waterproof container containing a logbook. Larger containers such as plastic storage containers (Tupperware or similar) or ammo boxes can also contain items for trading, usually toys or trinkets of little value. Geocaching is most often described as a “game of high-tech hide and seek,”…

Interesting, I thought, but surely there would not be any geocaches near me, and certainly not any in areas that I could go exploring with my 2 1/2 year old.

WRONG!

I signed up for a free account at http://www.geocaching.com/, and was excited to learn there were several geocaches within 10 minutes walking distance from my house. Now this was getting exciting!!

In order to find caches near me I had to plug in my postal code. This provided me with a list of caches near me sorted by distance. The caches are also rated for difficulty and terrain. Because I had no idea what to expect, we chose a very basic one. There is also a place to log your visit to the cache on the website. It was helpful to read through the posts because it gave me some hints on what to look for as well as some insight into the difficulty.

Since Miss K has a serious obsession with a certain cartoon “explorer”, I thought this would be right up her alley. She drew her own map and everything!

In addition to our GPS we brought some stickers and a magnet (for trading), a pen (to sign the log book) and a camera (to document the find). Since we weren’t venturing far from home I didn’t bother to bring drinks or snacks, but I will in future if we decide to go farther. Also, I highly recommend wearing closed footwear. Miss K wore Crocs and I wore flip flips – not the best choices when searching a wooded area.

I plugged in the coordinates provided by the website and away we went. It didn’t take long for me to realize that something just wasn’t right with the GPS. After some fiddling with the settings I realized that the unit should have been set to “pedestrian” and “off road”. Once I had everything fixed up we were back on track.

Miss K and I followed the “pink path” until we reached the general area of our treasure. On the website it describes what the cache will look like. We were looking for a medium size food storage container covered in black duct tape.

It took a little playing with the GPS unit to figure out how to find such a specific point, but finally the unit told us we were within 0.8 meters of the coordinate we had entered. A quick peek behind a tree revealed our prize:

We were very excited to say the least. I fished the container out of the tree and we opened it up. Inside there was a log book and pen sealed inside a zipper storage bag along with a variety of other items. I let Miss K trade swap some stickers and I signed the log book. We sealed the container up again and placed it back in its spot.

This was a really fun activity. Miss K is motivated because there was “treasure” and she got some new stickers. We are planning on going again soon – Daddy wants to come next time because he thinks that he will be able to find a more difficult cache with his superb orienteering skills (we will see). I think we will also create a cache of our own to hide on one of our favorite dog walking paths.

Erin is mom to 2 (almost 3) year old “Miss K” and 6 month old “Mister J”. You can read her blog at My Suburban Adventure

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8 Comments

Filed under Activities for kids, Free, Outings

8 responses to “Goin’ On A Treasure Hunt

  1. We like to geo-cache, too and there really are so many here in Ottawa. We have found a number of them in our own neighbourhood. Our next step is to make one of our own, including a travelling bug that we will send on a mission. Great exercise and kids love picking a treasure at the end.

    • neeroc

      What model of GPS are you using? We don’t have one for the car (thanks to iPhone and google maps *g*) so am trying to figure out a good hand held option.

  2. We want to try this soon too. Thanks for the post!

  3. I’ve wanted to try this too (in fact, there’s one right behind out house that I see people heading into the bush to find) but I thought you had to have a handheld one rather than a GPS you’d use in a car….is that what you used? How do you pinpoint something without an address?

    • We have a Garmin GPS that we use in our car (it is the kind that sticks on the window and plugs into the cars power outlet).

      To use it for geocaching you have to set it to “pedestrian” and “off road” and use the”enter coordinates” option as opposed to entering a street address.

      Good Luck!!

      • Well, bummer! Looks like ours is too old and doesn’t have that pedestrian option! Oh, well, I’ll try someday. Thanks for the info!

      • neeroc

        Good to know. We don’t have a car GPS, so I’ve been wondering what model handheld people use…not sure we’d buy one for the car, maybe I should get looking into this *g*

  4. Pingback: September recap – what you might have missed « Kids in the Capital

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