Geocaching Part 2 – What to Take With You
For beginning geocaching with kids, you really don't need to bring much. The most important items are:
a GPS device of some sort
a pen or pencil
'swag' or small items for trade
That is really all you need for basic geocaching with kids. We use a low end basic dedicated GPS device when we are heading out on a hike, and we use a geocaching ap on my smart phone for urban, or city geocaching. I'm not really qualified to review or recommend GPS devices, so I won't do that here. I'll just say that my kids don't have trouble using my little Garmin etrek 10. There are many other choices, some with much fancier features, like color maps and all kinds of cool things. However, price goes up quickly with the features, so you probably want to make sure you really love geocaching before you invest in a pricey GPS just for that purpose.
When we use my smart phone, we use a free ap called c:geo. Geocaching.com has it's own ap that is supposed to be very good, but I have not tried it. I just tried out c:geo because it was free, and it usually works well for me. When it doesn't it is usually because we are out of phone reception range – that's why we generally use the phone only for city stuff.
I have read that the geocaching experts say that a GPS designed for car navigation usually do not work well for geocaching. I think they are good at getting you to a general address, but for geocaching you need to get to within at least a few feet of the hide for the best chance of finding it.
Regardless of what type of GPS you use, you should sign up for a geocaching.com account. Most aps will need to sync with your geocaching.com account to work and if you're using a dedicated GPS device, you'll need to account to download the cache data into your device. There is a free option, as well as a paid option that includes a few perks. The free account is plenty to get you started geocaching.
It's good to bring a pencil or pen with you in case the cache you find doesn't have one, or the one in it is bad. There will be a log in each geocache for you to sign in order to get credit for making the find.
'Swag' is the term used for the tradable stuff inside many geocaches. It's usually small, and cheap stuff. My husband calls it junk, but the kids love looking through it and picking out something to trade. The geocaching community policy is that you should trade 'even or up' when trading swag. This is to prevent the quality of the swag declining even further. So for example, it would be considered very bad geocaching etiquette to take a mini maglite and leave a nickel. As an example of the sorts of things we often find, and leave: stickers, buttons, plastic craft jewels, small toys (happy meal type stuff), coins, rubber bouncy balls, etc. You should never leave candy or food because that will only attract animals and bugs.
Next time: Part 3 - The search!