There are so few things that we can do at the moment BUT one thing we have discovered and subsequently fallen head over heals in love with is geocaching!
I’d heard of it before but assumed it was like the orienteering that we were asked to do as kids at school, and I guess in a way it’s similar but it’s so much more fun! We got into it by a happy accident when I googled “how to make walks more fun for kids” after I had exhausted the options in my arsenal and none of us were enjoying walks. It’s bloody hard dragging the kids out on your own and trying desperately to get them motivated! Geocaching came up, I downloaded a recommended app and the rest is, as they say, history. This was only a few weeks ago, and we are by no means experts ourselves, but I thought it would be useful to jot down what we’ve learnt as newbie geocachers who have got the bug – especially from a mum’s point of view with kids.
For those not in the know, geocaching is like a giant worldwide treasure hunt where people leave things all over the world for each other to find. It’s a lovely way to feel connected without actually being connected which makes it ideal for these covid times! It ranges from the “got to this point and find a container with either a piece of paper to sign or swaps” all the way to massive world contests where you have to solve puzzles, clues and open locked boxes. Watch “Finding O’Hana” on netflix to get the geocache high standard (and also because it’s a bloody good film and I highly recommend it!) We have tried basic geocaching and had a go at a few multi-caches (where you go to one point, solve a clue and go find the “cache” at another location) but we haven’t really tried anything more advanced, with a 5, 8 and 9 year old, I think we have reached a happy limited and that is that for now! There are THOUSANDS of these things so you really don’t need to become a master at any speed.
So what have we discovered as beginners to the geocaching world? What is in our “geocaching starter kit”?
First thing I recommend: Open the app store on your device and download “Geocaching” – this is the link website here, but I cannot recommend that app enough. We started with the free version and it gave us more than enough to go on and get hooked! It breaks down how easy the item is to find, the terrain so you can work out what you will need to wear/take, acts as a gps/satnav for you and allows you to connect with other members if you want to. It also has hints for the cache from the owner and you can add a photo too!
What you might want to consider (weather depending):
- Wellies/walking boots – depending on where you go the terrain can be muddy, wet or slippy.
- Waterproof trousers
What you need in your geocache pack:
- Pen – Usually one in the log if it’s big enough but we have found a few now that aren’t big enough for a pen or pencil and not had one on us!
- Drinks – We actually walked a lot further than I expected the first time we went out, it depends on your area but geocaches seem to pop up within a mile or two of each other in ours so we just kept going to the next one! I was super grateful that I had shoved water bottles in our back pack, I don’t on most walks but this just felt like a good idea and it was!
- Snacks – same as above, I’m not usually a snack carrying mum, they get something at home but they loved this!
- Chargers/charger wires – if you’re planning on a big day trip, gps drains batteries fast so I think this is useful!
- Phone for gps – this is where the app comes in, also if you find a multi-cache and you’re given co-ordinates to find the next one, you can use google maps by copy and pasting the details and boom – location.
- Tweezers – never thought I would need this but you do! Being noobs we had no idea but the caches can be “nano” or “micro” and OMGGGG they mean nano. We’re talking the size of a deep button with a teeny tiny rolled up piece of paper inside! The tweezers are for the paper or similar situations where you may need to grab something tiny!
- Notepad for writing down answers if you’re doing a puzzle or multicache
- Geocaching app
- Sanitiser wipes or hand sanitizer – especially in the current climate, it helps to wipe down your hands and the surface surely? Our experience with geocaching has all been outdoors at the moment, though I believe (with permissions) it can sometimes be inside a building for special events.
- Swaps toys like kinder egg toys etc, nothing expensive, just a little swap. The golden rule is to swap something for similar values. We had some duplicate mini pokemon figures from ebay and a kinder egg car that we took along, the kids didn’t want to swap them so we still have them ready for next time! You don’t have to swap, you can just add something or do nothing after signing the log.
- Face masks – again, current climate you may wish to consider it, though we don’t as it’s outdoors in woodland. If the place we may come across a cache is busy we are choosing not to go to it at the moment.
- Travel bug – these are so cool, I’ve ordered one for the kids and I can’t wait to put it somewhere! They are quite literally little tags that have a code on them that you can track from location to location. Pop one in a geocache and the next person to come along will be able to take it and move it to their next location and so on and so on. A member of my IG community got in touch with me to tell me that they made an “elder wand” travel bug using a metal harry potter wand and geocache travel bug. It has been in circulation for years and seen some amazing places!
So that’s it – thats what we have learned so far! We aren’t experts but we’re really enjoying ourselves! I think the next thing for us to do is plant our own geocache – the app website has loads of advice on this, we need a bit more experience in finding them and then we’re off!