Are you looking for a way to add education, exercise, and family fun to your life? Do your kids love treasure hunts? Then you need to try geocaching!
Geocaching is a scavenger hunt using GPS. The best part is, you don’t need fancy tools, just your phone! There are so many great benefits to geocaching with your family, whether you are traveling, looking for something fun to do on your day off, or adding it to your homeschool.
Our family loves geocaching, and even if we weren’t homeschooling I know it would still be a part of our family adventures.
Explore new areas
Even in your local city, when you start hunting for geocaches you are sure to find new areas of town you’ve never seen before. You may never have had any reason to go to a certain park, but then you follow a cache trail there and discover a great new playground for the kids.
We love to geocache when we are on vacation, it leads us to lots of awesome discoveries. Geocaching is like our own secret tour guide!
Problem Solving Skills
Geocaching involves a lot of problem solving. Clues are usually not very straightforward, and the kids really have to think about what they mean! It’s a great “think outside the box” teacher for sure.
Sometimes the problem solving involves how to get to the cache, or how to reach it or open it. Which leads me to the next benefit…
There is pretty much no way NOT to get exercise when you are geocaching. Sure, there are a few that are considered “park and grab” which means they are not far off the road, but the majority of them involve walking and/or hiking to get to the hidden location. If allowed, you can take bikes on the trail, or if it’s winter, break out those cross country skiis!
Challenge each family member to see how many steps they can get on their fitness tracker while you are out searching for added fun.
Another great thing about geocaching is just spending time outdoors. While you are our searching you can’t help but notice wildlife, trees, flowers, etc. I can’t tell you how many pictures I have of weird bugs, cool birds, pretty flowers and unidentifiable scat. Yes, scat. If we don’t happen to have our Scats and Tracks book with us, or our bird or wildflower book I take a picture so we can look it up later.
Screen Free Activity
“My kids never use electronics” said no Mom ever. We all struggle with getting our kids away from the ever-present screens, and geocaching is one sure-fire way to get them outside, off their butts, and engaged. Yes, I know you’re thinking, but they have to use a screen to find the cache, and while that is true, once they have used my phone to locate the cache, it is promptly returned to me. No sneaking off to a lean-to to play Minecraft.
Being Good Stewards
In Show Low, AZ there is an entire series of geocaches dedicated to picking up trash. Sounds odd, but all the caches are in a line up a highway and the person who hid the caches asks that as you go out searching, you pick up one item of trash. It’s a great idea, and as geocachers we have a great opportunity to give back by leaving no trace and picking up after those who forgot that rule. When your kids see you do something like that, they learn that respecting nature is important, and littering is a big no!
Such an important life skill! What happens someday when an asteroid takes out all the GPs satellites? AHHHH!!! I know, unlikely, but still, kids still need to learn how to read a map because let’s face it, sometimes cell coverage isn’t great and there isn’t a gas station for miles. If you’re lost, a map can be your friend, but only if you know how to use it.
Geocaching teaches kids how to look at maps, see where they are in relation to where the cache is hidden, and even learn some basic compass skills.
Patience and Perserverence
This is probably the most difficult area for us when it comes to geocaching. With boys age 8 and 10, they are physically able to walk or hike with us, able to read the cache clues and most of the time even spot the caches before we do. But oh heavens, if it takes too long to find that cache…
Geocaching takes patience. Sometimes even with the right coordinates and an easy hint it takes a while to find where that wily cache is hidden. But, we have given up on very few caches. We go back to the clues, put on our thinking outside the box hats and keep on looking. We’ve turned over some pretty crazy things hoping we’d find our treasure. By not giving up, we are teaching our kids perserverence. And if they aren’t in the perservering mood, they learn patience while Mom and Dad continue to search 🙂
Are you convinced to try out geocaching with your family yet? I hope so! It’s really a great way to have fun and explore the great outdoors with your family. Be sure to check out my Beginner’s Guide to Geocaching and get started!