Last July, I went to Michigan for my great-nephew’s birthday and a mini family reunion. While there, a group of us went geocaching.
Geocaching is a scavenger hunt in which people hide “caches” that are then found by other people via GPS coordinates. These waterproof containers can be small enough to hide in a fence post or large enough to be found under a fallen tree. Each cache has a log to be signed and dated by the finder. They often hold small items that are left behind for the next person to find.
Every time someone hides a new cache, it’s entered into a giant database. Each cache has info about it, how hard it is to find, the terrain surrounding it and other facts that might be useful in your search. You find the cache by downloading the GPS coordinates and using an app such as c:geo or a GPS device to search for it.
Both times I went geocaching, my tech-savvy younger son was with us. We depended on him to download the app, decide which cache was suitable for the group and be in charge of keeping us going in the right direction. While I’m not as adept on the phone as he is, I am fairly savvy myself so I have no doubt that the average person could go geocaching.
The first time I went geocaching, it was in my hometown with my husband, son and my son’s girlfriend. We felt a little self-conscious walking in circles trying to find one of the caches, but then we bumped into another group looking for it, as well.
None of us found it, though. That’s the challenge of geocaching. Sometimes you just can’t find the cache, even if you download a clue. We did try another and found it beneath a loose terminal post cap on a fence. It was just big enough to hold a tiny logbook.
That geocache was fun, but not nearly as much fun as traipsing through the woods last summer with my niece, her two children, my sister and my son, who again led us on our adventure. We searched for two caches that day: a plastic container under a log and a red bucket under a tree. Both held small prizes such as a miniature Lego figurine.
Geocaching is a great way to get some exercise, sharpen your observation skills and enjoy some social time with family and friends. It can be done in a city or in the countryside. Kids especially will get a kick out of searching for the prize during a geocache hike without realizing they’re getting fresh air and exercise.