Have you been wondering if geocaching would be a fun activity for your family? We have been talking about geocaching for years. Finally this summer while on vacation in a relatively small town where we needed to be somewhat inventive to keep the kids busy, we decided to give geocaching a try. Boy am I sorry we didn’t start this sooner! What a great way to spend time as a family, explore new places, and get outside! Here is your beginner’s guide to geocaching!
The first thing you need to do is download the Geocaching app from your app store (available for iPhone and Android). Simply sign up for a free account and you’re on your way! Hint: pick a fun username and use that when you sign the log books inside caches.
The Geocaching app offers a paid upgrade that allows you to find even more caches, but honestly we have been having a blast just with the free ones (and there are plenty of them!)
Find your first geocache! Login to your account and use the Geocaching app to locate a cache near you. Click on the map icon, and you will see a blue dot indicating where you are on the map. If there is a cache nearby, you’ll see a green circle with what looks like a box inside it. Click on the icon and you will get all the details about this cache and how to find it!
Pressing the “Start” icon will draw a line from your location to the cache to help guide you in the right direction. Once you get close, the app will let you know, and you can switch to “compass” view, which narrows it down by distance in feet and the compass arrow shows you which direction to go.
The cache description will usually let you know if it’s on the ground or hanging somewhere, but in the absence of a good clue I have found that looking for “unusual” placement of rocks or logs usually leads me to the cache. In other words, look for something that looks a bit out of place in a natural environment.
If you are having trouble finding the cache, try using the “hint” provided by the person who placed the cache. There isn’t always a hint, so in that case you can try reading the activity logs. Even though you technically aren’t supposed to give clues in your log, many people do and it can help you out. You may also use the logs to see if the cache hasn’t been found in while, which could indicate that it’s missing or has been destroyed.
Once you have located the cache, sign the log book and mark the cache as found in your app. If the cache is big enough, there may be swag or small trinkets for trading. If you take something, you must leave something! Our family decided that all the little toys they get in party favors or fast food kid meals would make great trading items.
Although we haven’t found one like this yet, some caches may have a trackable device in them. There will be a number on them that you can log in the Geocaching app, and see how far it has traveled around the world! You should then take this trackable item with you and hide it in another cache. The further away from the original the better! Some of them may have goals associated with them, like visit each state or make it to Europe, etc.
Do a happy dance and repeat! Celebrate your accomplishment with your family, and head off to your next find!
Have you tried Geocaching with your family yet?