Getting Kids Outside for a Therapeutic Experience Part 4: Geocaching with Kids
Geocaching is a modern-day treasure hunting activity using a GPS-enabled device. Geocaching gets kids moving outdoors in fresh air and sunshine, which is vital to their health and well-being. Geocaching helps kids increase endurance, build muscle strength, integrate their senses, facilitate creative imagination, and improve their self-esteem. Learn all about Geocaching with Kids in Jenny’s audio podcast.
Geocaching is a modern-day treasure hunting activity using a GPS-enabled device, typically a smart phone. It’s a fun way to get kids outside exploring local parks and walking on nature trails. Giving kids a mission of finding treasure is motivating, which helps increase their ability to stay focused.
Geocaching gets kids moving outdoors, in fresh air and sunshine which is vital to their health and well-being. The physical activity in nature involved in geocaching helps kids increase endurance, build muscle strength, integrate their senses, facilitate creative imagination, and improve their self-esteem. Geocaching has another therapeutic benefit for children, it helps them to develop visual perceptual skills such as visual discrimination and visual figure-ground, directional orientation for learning left/right/north and south, and how to read a map.
To get started, log onto www.geocaching.com and create an account with a geocache log name. Next download the free basic Geocaching app to your smart device. To prepare, collect the following items to bring with you when you geocache; water to drink (important to stay hydrated), bug spray, sunscreen, tweezers (to retrieve tiny paper logs from tiny geocaches), a pen to write your geocache name on the paper log, and items to trade.
Begin by opening the geocache app and select the map, which will display nearby geocaches on the screen. Once you have decided which geocache you want to find, click ‘Navigate’ on the app and it will provide you with specific coordinates. Then you can attempt to locate the hidden treasure. Geocaches come in all different sizes and shapes. From the size of a small pill bottle to a large ammo container. All geocache containers have a paper log inside. When you find the geocache, write your name and the date you found it on the paper log. Next, click ‘Log’ then ‘Found It’ on the geocaching app to virtually log it on the app. You can write a note about your find if you wish. If you have difficulty finding the geocache, the app provides a description as well as a hint to help you out. The larger containers typically have treasures inside, such as miniature toys and stickers, which are fun for kids to find. If you take an item, it is courteous to leave an item in its place.
If you get lucky, you might discover a trackable inside a geocache. A trackable is a special treasure with its own tracking number. It typically looks like a dog tag with something attached to it, such as a small plastic toy. If you find a trackable, you can log it in your geocaching app and read about where it came from and where it wants to go. There is a special place to log a trackable on the geocache app. You can view its log online and read about the adventure it has already been on. The purpose of a trackable is to travel to other geocaches, so remember to place it in another geocache some time.
Safety is the top priority, especially when geocaching with small children. Since geocaches have a difficulty rating, be sure to find geocaches on your app that have an easy to find rating. Also consider the location. Look for geocaches that are in easy to access spots. Some geocaches are far off the beaten path, so stick to the ones close to public sidewalks, trails, parks, etc.
Enjoy the adventures of geocaching with kids.