Explore the outdoors, practice observation skills, follow a compass
For this Fun-Size Friday, we decided to hit the outdoors. My younger sister is very outdoorsy and tech savvy, combine these two and what do you get, geocaching. This was my first time.
So for those new to geocaching, you're basically on a treasure hunt for a piece of paper. Exciting, right? It actually is pretty cool. You use an app on your phone that gives you the coordinates of a slightly hidden capsule, aka a cache. You follow the coordinates to locate the cache. Once you find it, you open it to find a piece of paper listing all the others that have come before you to locate this cache. The caches come in all sizes. One cool aspect of geocaching is the exchanging of a trinket found in the cache. Kind of a like a trophy exchange saying, "Hey, I found something, I'm keeping it." and, "I'm leaving something of mine behind to mark that I was here."
When geocaching, download the geocaching.com app. It makes the whole process idiot-proof, thus perfect for first-timers such as myself. The app is free, but offers a paid plan as well. I spoke to a friend that had paid for the subscription and told me it wasn't worth it for a casual cacher such as myself. It basically just opens up extra caches. They are in no way more special, just extra. If you aren't planning on going gung-ho on the caching, just locate the free ones.
Choose the location you wish to go geocaching. We chose a local nature center. It offered easy terrain for our kiddos, something important to keep in mind when planning your venture with little ones. You don't want to arrive and thirty minutes later leave upset because you are exhausted from carrying your child the whole time. Something else to look for, a location with a multitude of caches in close proximity. Children need immediate and frequent pay-off if their interest is to be maintained.
To further entertain your children, bring them some cool stuff to play with. We brought magnifying glasses, shovels, etc. See the video for the exact list. They loved to stop along the way and examine nature. We used our smart phones and identified a cactus that we found, watched a millipede for a while, and examined fossils that we found off the beaten path during the brief period in which we were lost. All experiences in and of themselves.
Follow your phone to the cache.
After finding the cache, open it and find the list of names. Add your name to the bottom.
If you brought a trinket, exchange a trinket. If not, leave the one in there alone. Beware that the cache may be too small to hold a trinket.
Return the cache to its location and find another.
That's it. The geocaching app makes it so simple, you don't need anything else.
For older children, much older children, I recommend buying a compass and teaching them cardinal directions. The app has a built in compass, but it also has a red indicator on which direction you are going and need to go. Like I said before, idiot-proof. It requires no real skill set or knowledge to participate. With a compass and a map, kids will have to rely a lot more on some form of knowledge to locate the caches. We will probably do this again as our children grow, but for now, it was over their heads.
So you know how to do it, no excuses. Grab your little one, get outside, and explore LIFE.