My family started geocaching about four years ago. It’s been a fun way to explore the outdoors while “treasure hunting” in some new places. We’ve found caches in our neighborhood, at our local fire department, on the back of traffic signs, and while on vacation. Geocaching has encouraged the four kids to work together, to follow directions, and to take leadership roles (as we alternate who is in charge of the device).
What is geocaching?
Geocaching is like a treasure hunt in which you search for hidden waterproof container (or “cache”) using a GPS device. (We usually use our smartphones.) Some caches are “take one-leave one,” meaning there are treasures left by past geocachers. If you find one of these, you can take one item from the container, but you need to leave something in return. This has been a great way to recycle some of the kids’ smaller toys, like Littlest Pet Shop animals. Other caches are just for the thrill, but almost all have a small logbook or piece of paper where you can leave your name to indicate the cache was found. (Don’t forget to bring a pencil!)
Who can geocache?
The great thing about geocaching is that everyone can do it! Most cache maps or clues are marked with the degree of difficulty, making it easy to find ones appropriate for kids of all ages. And some include clues to help you find it if it’s in a particularly difficult location.
But there are some basic rules–like not leaving a trace of your search, not trespassing, and not spoiling it for others. Caches aren’t buried, but they can be really tricky to find.
Start with super easy, kid-friendly caches to get the littles interested in the hunt. That way they won’t be discouraged. One of our first finds was at our local fire station, and the cache box was filled with fire safety activities that the kids loved!
Wisconsin is flush with caches! In fact, West Bend is the “Geocaching Capital of the Midwest,” with more than 1,600 geocaches in a 10-mile radius!
A few of my family’s favorite resources are:
Wisconsin Geocaching Association – The Wisconsin Geocaching Association website includes information on geocaches in state parks and a “Cache of the Month” activity. Check out the list of events around the state, including the West Bend $1000 Cache Ba$h 2021 in August!
Geocaching.com – Geocaching.com is a great resource for geocaches throughout the country. This site also includes gear you can buy including resources for creating your own geocache for people to find and includes a tracking system so your family can track your finds.