In this day and age of technology, it is hard to persuade kids to get outside. I know this for a fact! We have 5 kids in our family ages 11, 8, 6, 4 and 2 who love playing on their computers, wii and gameboys. (My husband is a Network Administrator and I am a digital graphic and web designer, so computers are our life.)
A year ago, in order to both get additional exercise for our homeschooled family and find a family activity that was not only fun, but also a way to get our kids ‘thinking outside the everyday box”, we discovered geocaching from our friend of many years, The Outdoor Princess. With a family of this size, it was hard at first to organize ourselves to get going with any activity. In the last year, to date, our family has placed 5 and found and logged 83 caches. Here are a few tips to get your family started in geocaching.
1. When searching for caches online, find ones that are not on main busy roads. It is much too hard to get your kids out of the car and search for the geocache safely.
2. The Caches are ranked on the website 1 to 5, 1 being the easiest. Only take the kids out on caches that are ranked 1 to 2. Success is the key. If they can’t find it, it will no longer be fun.
3. Print out each cache that you are planning on going to and put each sheet in folder. They are easier to keep track of in the car and to keep track of after you finish.
4. 3-5 caches is about the limit for 2 year olds. (Trust me on that!)
5. Always think ahead, carry hats, sun screen, extra batteries for the GPS, a camera or 2 and bottled water. We have a canvas bag that we load up with the essentials to take with us. Don’t forget a SNACK!!! Nothing is more trouble than a hungry 4 year old. If you are going to be gone for a long time, pack a picnic lunch.
6. Before you jump in to find a cache, make sure that your kids each get a turn at carrying the GPS (they will not break them and it makes the experience more fun for them.)
7. Some kids can find geocaches better than others. Let the little ones look first. It is not a game against each other. Your family is on the same team!
8. Kids are smarter than you think. They will follow clues, sometimes better than adults. My 8-year-old discovered that the names of the caches are sometimes clue – If something is called a honeybee, then it is probably hidden near something yellow and black.
9. You never know what you are going to come across. Keep that camera readily available.
10. To get started you do NOT need a $500 GPS. We picked one up for less than $60 and it has lasted us a full year and is still going strong.
11. When traveling on vacation, make use to check out the area that you are going to. On the way, there are bound to be a few that they kids will enjoy to find, also a chance to stretch your legs.
12. Take photos of every place that you go. I guarantee that your 6 year old will have an adventure story to go along with each place.
13. Don’t pick flowers! You never know what they are… and a 2 year old itching will end the day.
14. Bring some little knickknacks to exchange. A dollar store bag of army men go a long way.
15. Have FUN! This can be a GREAT family experience! It has been for our family.