I was one of those kids who walked beaches in hopes of finding a message in a bottle. I loved movies like “The Goonies”; the idea of finding a map and following it to treasure was always exciting. This is why I was drawn to geocaching.
Geocaching is basically a worldwide treasure hunt. There are caches that are hidden on every continent.
You go to a Web site to download the co-ordinates and clues to find a cache and you go out to find it. Caches are like treasure chests that are hidden for you to find; some are big and some are small. They come in all sorts of containers and usually contain a log book.
Once you find the cache, you sign the log book and trade items if you want to. The basic rule is that if you take something out of the cache, you need to put something in it to replace it.
I wasn’t sure if geocaching was going to work for our family. When you have one family member who has special needs, it can be hard to find something that everyone can do together as a family.
It turns out that we loved geocaching and it has been a great activity for all of us. We all get to be involved in finding the cache. Big Kid holds one of our GPS units and Angel looks high and low under or in objects while SpecialDad and I work on the clues and give the kids an idea of where to look.
When you geocache, you end up walking a lot, especially if you are like us and you miss the cache and walk in circles around it a few times.
Climbing over logs, walking up hills, it’s all great sensory input for Angel. It’s good for us to be outside and we’re getting exercise too. We’ve cached in the winter and in the summer. We’ve cached near home and we’ve cached on vacation.
Since there are caches in every continent, it’s something you can do right around the world. Some caches are quite complicated and some are very easy. We tend to choose caches that are ranked at a level one or two difficulty and I look for ones with an easier terrain, usually 1-1/2 stars. There are other attributes you can look for including accessibility for wheelchairs and strollers and 24 hour availability (for those who like to cache in the dark).
One of the great byproducts of caching has been discovering things in our own backyard that we didn’t even know were there. It allows you the chance to go to places nearby that you normally rush past. We’ve found new parks and playgrounds.
Usually after we find a cache, we hit the playground for some fun. Sometimes we’ve even been known to hit the park first, especially if we’re having trouble finding the cache.
We may not always find the cache, but we always have fun being outside, spending time together as a family. If you haven’t tried geocaching, give it a shot! All you need to start is a GPS. We use the one I got for the car. It’s a Garmin and you can set it to Pedestrian mode instead of automobile.
I also use my iPhone with the Geocaching.com app I purchased. It helps to have the hints and co-ordinates on hand. Set up a free account on line and you’re on your way to being treasure hunters.