Thursday, May 16, 2013

Geocaching Part 1 - Planning

Geocaching Part 1 - Planning

I promised awhile back to write a more extensive post about geocaching with kids. However, I don’t want to overwhelm with a super long post, so I will be dividing the process up. So here is part 1: planning your geocaching outing. Spring and Summer can be a great time to try out geocaching if you’ve never tried it before. We went out today and found three caches. I’m going to give an account of what we did as an example of how geocaching works. I’m going to do my best to avoid including any details that might provide hints about the location of the caches we found so I don’t accidently share any caching spoilers.

First, I visited and pulled up the map of the Regional Park we planned to visit, to see what sorts of geocaches were there. What I consider when planning a geocaching outing with my kids:

-          The difficulty rating for the cache. While 3 and 4 star difficulty caches are very rewarding for me to find, my kids usually lose interest in searching well before I do. I stick to 1 and 2 star, maybe 2 ½ when they are caching with me to keep it fun.

-          The terrain rating. For this I stick to a 3 ½ star rating or under, even on my own because I’m not all that fit. I don’t want to have to do any climbing or other difficult maneuvers to reach a cache. There may be a 3 or a 3 ½ I won’t be able to get to, but so far those have been obtainable for us even if slightly tiring if they are up a steep hill or something similar.

-          The size of the cache. The kids love the cheep silly ‘swag’, or treasures that are available for trade inside some geocaches. Micro caches are often to small to hold any swag. I try to make sure most of the caches we will be searching for on an outing are ‘small’ or larger. Sometimes a hide is so clever and fun on its own they enjoy finding it just for the sake of finding it (as I do) but usually, they want the swag.

-          The hike involved. We are tackling longer hikes as time goes along and they grow, but I still have to consider a hike length that will keep things fun for them. Sometimes we will skip the hike all together and focus on finding ‘urban’ caches. These are ones that are hidden in parking lots, or neighborhood playgrounds, or sometimes inside local businesses. We found one on the bookshelf at our library! The downside to urban caches is that they tend to be small because it is harder to hide a geocache in a busy area. It can also be harder to search in a high traffic shopping center, for example, without strangers wondering what you’re up to.      
For your first geocaching outing consider looking for a ‘beginner’ cache. When you visit and  under the “Play” tab pick “Hide or Seek a cache” then enter the area you want to look in, you will be shown a list of caches in that area. Caches that the hider thinks would be good for a beginner will be highlighted in green.

Next time I’ll go over what to take with you on your geocaching outing.

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