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Fun, Free & Outdoors: Geocaching With Kids

When I first heard about geocaching, I pictured people combing the desert, armed with nothing but a compass, unearthing time-capsules. In other words, nothing I was interested in doing in my free time. Then, geocaching with kids was discussed on one of my favorite podcasts and I realized our family needed to give it a try.

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What Is Geocaching?

Geocaching is a real-world treasure hunt using your GPS-enabled device. The Geocaching app is available for the iPhone in the App Store and for Android phone via Google play. An intro version of the app is free. The premium version of the app costs $9.99, gives you access to a few more varieties of caches and allows you to sort by cache size.

The app helps you navigate to a certain spot, where you’ll attempt to find a geocache (container) hidden at that location. The geocache may be as small as a 35 mm film canister or as large as a bucket. It may be hidden on the ground or up in a tree. The app gets you within 100 feet of the location, then it’s up to you to search high and low.

What’s In a Cache?

Once you find the geocache, you sign a logbook inside. Some larger caches may contain a little treasure for you to take. If you take something from the geocache, you should always leave something of greater or equal value. Before we leave for a geocaching hunt, I take the opportunity to cull my son’s toy box for small toys, trinkets, stickers, or erasers and use these as “treasure”. We also bring along a pen to sign the logbook, although usually a pen is included in the cache.

Once we sign the logbook and trade our treasure, we hide the cache again for the next treasure hunter that comes along.

Where Are Geocaches Located?

Just a few of the geocache sites in Scottsdale.

Just a few of the geocache sites in Scottsdale.

Geocaches can be found all over the world, but there are probably quite a few in your own neighborhood! During the hot summer months, we use it as an excuse to drive north to Prescott or Flagstaff. We even went geocaching while visiting family in Nebraska when we found ourselves with a free afternoon and two small boys to entertain.

Who Can Geocache?

Anyone! My three-year-old loves geocaching almost as much as my 30-something-year-old husband. Some caches hidden in remote areas may require some climbing, but descriptions in the app typically give you a heads up if the cache involves scaling any rough terrain.

Geocaching hunts may introduce your family to parts of our city you’ve never noticed before. Fun, free, AND outdoors? It doesn’t get any better than that.

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