We’re well into the summer holidays and by now you may be scratching your head to figure out something fun and fresh to do with the kids. If you want to try something new and get out of the house while you’re doing it, how does a large-scale treasure hunt sound? You don’t have to go out and hide stuff– there’s already thousands of things to find in your area thanks to a popular activity called Geocaching.
How it works
Geocaching has been around for yonks (since about 2000) but the need for a GPS receiver kept it a rather niche hobby for its initial years. Now that almost everyone and their Gran has a smartphone with built-in GPS, all you need to do it set up a free account on an app like the official one from Geocaching.com (available for both iOS and Android) and you’re practically ready to go!
Once you have your app, all you have to do is choose a geocache on the map, navigate to its location and then start looking. A geocache is typically a small, waterproof container which will contain a logbook so you can record your name when you’ve found it. Some geocaches may even contain prizes or require you to solve puzzles before you’ll be able to find them – there’s a number of variations that people have come up with.
After finding the geocache, you’ll need to close it up and put it back in exactly the same place for the next set of hunters to have a go. Thanks to the app, you can even share your find online. Don’t forget to let the cache owner know about the condition of the cache and the experience you had finding it! You can also comment ‘TFTG’ or ‘TFTC’ in the geocache activity – that’s ‘Thanks for the Geocache’ (just a little bit of geocache lingo for you).
Strapped for cash? Geocache!
A free account on the Geocaching app will show you a selection of the geocache spots in your area so it’s a great way to dip your toe in the water. If you really enjoy it, you may want to consider a premium subscription to unlock all the geocaches in the worldwide database so you can start hunting in more advanced hiding spots. You can get one month’s premium subscription for just $9.99 or an entire year for $46.99, which is just a fraction of the cost of a family ticket to most amusement parks for a single day.
Of course, no hobby is without its accessories, particularly if you’d like to start creating geocaches of your own. Stores like GeoStuff have a range of logbooks, containers and other gadgets that you may find handy, particularly if you plan on seeking out puzzle-themed geocaches (think ‘decoder coins’ and ‘blacklight keyrings’).
You may also like to hit up the two dollar shop for some cool little toys and trinkets – many larger geocaches contain a stash of toy cars, Legos and mini figurines so finders can swap them out with items from their own collection. It adds another element of fun to the sport.
Some tips to stay happy and safe
Have you tried geocaching or are you keen to give it go? Tell us all about it in the comments.