Fall is officially here in most of the country. With leaves changing colors and crisp mornings and early sunsets, it’s hard to miss. Now that the weather has shifted and we’re all bundling up a bit more, finding outdoor activities to do with kids becomes more difficult. One activity my daughters and I like to do is “geocaching”. Just last weekend, we hiked through Seashore State Park in Virginia Beach, VA for about 2 hours, with a nice picnic break after we found the ‘treasure’ and swapped out some of the girls own toy trinkets for new trinkets in the newly found treasure. Treasure found, treasure traded, bellies full, we headed home talking about all the cool stuff we found/did along the way.
Taking the definition from www.geocaching.com, geocaching is: “a high-tech treasure hunting game played throughout the world by adventure seekers equipped with GPS devices. The basic idea is to locate hidden containers, called geocaches, outdoors and then share your experiences online.” “How does a geocache get created?” you ask. A new geocache comes into existence when an individual (anyone that would like to hide their own container) hides a container in a public place, where geocachers are allowed to travel, then logs the container’s GPS coordinates at www.geocaching.com along with a description, size of the container and other miscellaneous details. Then, would be searchers log on, identify the area they would like to hunt and identify the various geocaches they are interested in hiking to.
Here are some basic steps I go through prior to our adventure. First I identify what area we’d like to explore and pull up the map of that area (Here is a map of one area we explore in Hampton Roads area of Virginia.) Once I have the map, showing geocaches in the area, I mouse over each cache looking for our search criteria. Criteria 1) Cache must be medium size or larger as this improves probability of toy trinkets (largest criteria for my girls). Criteria 2) Difficulty and Terrain shouldn’t be greater than medium, as I don’t want my girls stressing over the trip. As they get more experienced, we may change the criteria, but for now this works for us. If a cache meets our criteria, I will click on it and upload to my GPS device. While I am doing the research, the girls are packing the backpack with picnic items and toy trinkets as well as fall gear (hats, gloves, compass, flashlight). Once they are packed and I have identified 3-5 caches, we head out the door for our next adventure. Often Lola our dog accompanies us as an added bonus the girls really enjoy.
As a side note, geocaching.com has an iPhone app and probably apps for other smart phones. The one issue I had using my iPhone was the signal would ‘bounce’ when I was in deep woods and could not hone in on the actual GPS location. One moment, I’d be 10 feet away, 2 steps later, I’d be 50 feet away… in low wooded areas, I’d suggest using the phone app, but not for any serious woods geocaching. Happy Hunting!!
By R.S.. Pierce