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Geocaching is the modern-day treasure hunt that is loads of fun for kids and adults. This camping game provides hours of excitement as you trek through the woods looking for the hidden canisters. Unlike an ordinary hike or a backpacking trip, there’s the thrill of pursuit as you follow your GPS and the clues given for each cache.

Geocaching a great group activity and is the ultimate hide & go seek. Individuals and organizations have hidden thousands and thousands of these all over the world, and posted their GPS location on the internet with a tantalizing clue. Our family has really enjoyed this activity, and we’ve found canisters close to home, grandparents, and other wooded locations. The best part: It’s FREE. If you have a GPS unit, the rest of it won’t cost you a dime. And chances are good that they are many hidden canisters within a short drive of your home or destination!

Interested? Sound like a good camping activity for your group? Here’s what you need to know…

What’s a GPS?

GPS stands for Global Positioning System and is a handheld electronic device that shows your location (latitude & longitude) anywhere on earth. They vary in price from under $100 to over $1000. You can buy the very reliable and sleek Garmin ETrex for around $100 and have hours of treasure-hunting fun! Most GPS units are very user-friendly and take just a few minutes to read the directions and learn their features. In addition to its use for geocaching, a GPS can be a great navigation tool for hiking, backpacking, camping, and other outdood adventures! It’s a handy gadget.

How do I start?

It’s easy and FREE to register on the geocaching site. Just sign up, register your catchy team name, and start searching. You can enter your zip-code in and find locations by their distance away from home. You can also see the degree of difficulty and choose which one makes the most sense for your group. With our little guys, we usually choose the larger, coffee-can size, canisters as it’s easier for our explorers!

What’s in the cache / canister?

Ahhhh…this is the part that keeps the kid’s interest! There are usually loads of goodies in the canister that vary by spot, but there’s always a log book. The rules are that you can take an item (not the log book ;-), but you have to replace it with something else. Our boys will come armed with some of their own treasures and anxiously wait to see what they can trade up for in the cache! Some examples of items are key chains, coins, stickers, jewelry, and small toys. You might even be lucky enough to find a TravelBug or GeoCoin! These are unique items that have identification tags and their movement is tracked from on canister to the next as the Geocachers move them along. The logbook can be equally entertaining, as you read the entries of explorers that came before you.

Does the GPS make it TOO easy?

That was my initial thought, too, but it evaporated after 45 minutes of searching high and low! The GPS unit will usually put you within 25 feet of the exact location. That’s a pretty good search area, especially when there are fallen trees, hollowed-out logs, and large rocks! Most locations come with a clue…WRITE IT DOWN. The clue has helped us hone in one spot over another.

Geocaching is a great camping game or day trip idea. There’s an element of excitement knowing that you’re searching for something that someone else has hidden. Try it on your next outing and you’ll likely be hooked!

Happy Hunting!