Geocaching: Teach navigation, map reading, and much more.

How to Get Started Geocaching

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Geocaching: Teach navigation, map reading, and much more.

Geocaching is an outdoor hunting game. I’m not talking ‘Surviving the Game’ hunting here, I’m talking small containers with fun stuff in it hunting. In general, you navigate using some kind of GPS-enabled device, like a smart phone or a Garmin or Magellan-type GPS unit. If you start to play this game, you’ll be amazed at where these geocaches are. They’re everywhere. In fact, you probably walk by at least one a day. They are on your favorite hiking trails, running trails, mountain bike trails, under lamp poles in cities. They are essentially small buckets of treasure hidden all over the world.

OK, OK, I’ll admit that geocaching is not very interesting on its own, but when you pair it with a hike or fishing trip with the kids, you’ve got yourself a real nice diversion when the fish aren’t biting — and if you’re like me, the fish don’t bite nearly enough.

My boys got me into this game. We went through a phase where we were “hiking” pretty often when the boys were about 5 and 3, so real hiking presented a challenge — the boys didn’t really want to hike, they wanted to walk and check out every little leaf or dirt pile they could find. We wouldn’t get anywhere fast, and my goal was to wear them out so they would sleep at night. Enter “treasure hunting,” and all kids like treasure hunting. Bam! Now my boys have a goal with the added benefits of learning general navigation, definitely a twofer.

Here’s the breakdown:

  1. Get yourself a GPS-enabled device like the Garmin eTrex Venture HC GPS Receiver
  2. Sign up for at a geocaching website like www.geocaching.com
  3. Search the site for caches in the area you’re interested in hiking or camping
  4. Enter those into the GPS device
  5. Go forth and find treasure

Couple of hints:

  1. Let your kids hold the GPS unit and take the opportunity to let them lead
  2. Some of the caches are hard to find or have been removed so put a couple of caches in to cover yourself
  3. Most caches are a trade, so bring small things to trade for, to leave behind for the next person
  4. Snacks and Binos, like the Bushnell Powerview 8×21 Compact Folding Roof Prism Binocular (Black)
  5. Take a camera, like the GE Power Pro X500-BK 16 MP with 15 x Optical Zoom Digital Camera, to capture your kids’ triumphant moment

As far as ease of learning, cost of entry, and the return on investment, geocaching is a pretty good return. You get to teach yourself and in my case, my boys, how to navigate with and without the GPS unit — something every guy should know. Cost of entry is cheap and the return on investment is great because the more you do it, the more exercise you get, the more quality family time you create, and you and the kids get little bonuses along the way. This game builds confidence and awareness of your surroundings — also things all men should have.

I want to hear from you if you are doing this game and how it is going for you. For me, I have a good time doing this, but I also know there are some crazy wild far out caches, and I want to hear if any of them actually tested your mettle as a guy, or if you’re using this game as tool for teaching like me.

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