This morning I woke up determined to have a day filled with exercise and strive to not spend any money. We succeeded. While geo-caching has been around since 2000 our family had not yet jumped on this bandwagon. What a blast!
Two years ago we attempted hiking as a family. While our eldest loved it, our youngest screamed. After suffering a multitude of disapproving stares from fellow hikers we decided to cry uncle and wait a few years. Our youngest is now 4 and still hates walking. I knew I needed to come up with a way to foster his love of outdoor exercise. Last night it hit me…bribe him with technology. We never let our kids watch TV, only allow the kids to watch train movies when they get their nails cut, and never allow them to play on the iPads…yup, we are goofy. So, I knew if I told the kids they could use our phones to find treasures on a nature walk I would be greeted with overwhelming enthusiasm. Was I ever right! The kids had a blast and walked for more than 2 hours all over Fort Langley; we found SEVEN geo-caches!
I started by visiting the site geocaching.com; I downloaded the app from the Apple App Store. Each kid had a phone and we were off to the races. The Geocaching App is fantastic, and FREE! I was floored by the vast number of geocaches. Pick a neighbourhood and start your treasure hunt!
The Geocaching App lets you search by postal code, shows you a map of all the nearby geocaches and helps you hone in on your treasure. Our boys loved the compass feature; they had great fun following the orange arrow to the next destination. When you are about 10 feet from the geocache, the App plays a musical alert. If you are struggling to find the cache, the App also provides a hint for the cache location. You can also look at the posts other geo-hunters have posted. Some of the posts give extra hints that help you find what is right in front of your eyes.
We learned a few things on our first geo-caching experience:
1) Take a pen. There is always a piece of paper to write your name and date – a record that you found the geo-cache. While a pen is sometimes included, it isn’t always.
2) Once you are close to the geo-cache location, put your phone down. We struggled with one geo-cache (that was ridiculously obvious) because we were too focused on using our phones to help us find it. Our eyes were much more useful!
3) Check out a neighbourhood ahead of time on your Geocaching App. If you are geo-caching with little ones having many geo-caches, relatively close together, make the adventure more enjoyable for everyone.
4) Bring along some wipes. As the cache is out in nature, your hands will get dirty. I was happy to (miraculously) have wipes on hands to clean off little mitts before they started to man-handle my phone again.
This afternoon we are going to spend our time creating our own geo-cache. Right now the kids are thinking our geo-cache should be hidden inside their toy garbage truck. That should be super-easy to hide somewhere outside…