This year has brought a lot of change to our family and a lot of adventures. The biggest one has been homeschooling full time and trying to incorporate learning into every aspect of our lives. I search out activities and things to do that pack a punch—things that do multiple things at once. If we are going to spend time doing something, it better be fun, teach everyone something new, and spread our horizons a bit. A good friend and fellow homeschooler introduced us to one such activity, Geocaching. It’s a fabulous combination of hiking, treasure hunting, and tripolism (mapreading), and it’s tons of fun for everyone!
Geocaching is a hunt for hidden items all around you. People hide caches of all kinds and sizes and enter the coordinates and hints to find it on the Geocaching website. Enter the coordinates in your GPS, follow the trail and off you go. Some caches are urban and easy to get to and some are very remote and require good hiking, climbing and bushwacking skills. Some are placed in easy to find locations and some are so hard to find you have to decode hints to help you. There is truly something for everyone. And, all the caches are rated on a 1-5 star system so you can chose caches that fit the skills of whomever is hunting.
Some caches are small, tiny little pill and film boxes. Some are big, the size of a hat box. Some just have a log for you to add your name to and some have items inside to trade, making it a true treasure hunt. My kids love to leave items and pick out a little treasure of their own.
Learning to read a map, all about coordinates and how to use a GPS has been very educational for my kids. We talk a lot about direction when on our adventures, and the kids have learned how to navigate as well as how to estimate the time of day based on the sun’s position in the sky. We’ve learned a lot about our area, collecting leaves and other bits of nature along our journey. The biggest surprise about Geocaching has been how much we didn’t know about the areas right around us. We’ve found lakes, hiking trails, natural preserves and other hidden treasures that have connected us to living here in ways we didn’t expect and would have never experienced otherwise. Not to mention we have gotten lots of exercise in the process, not a bad additional benefit!
We Geocache anytime. It’s great for a little diversion when you are out and about running errands and it makes for an equally fun entire afternoon. So, next time you are wanting something fun, educational and healthy to do as a family, consider Geocaching, you’ll be amazed at what you might find!
Kristi Ashley is a homeschooling mom of three who spends time in the garden or hiking nearby her Hudson Valley, New York home. She is an amateur photographer, scrapbooker and avid reader. Find her work and blog at Tickety Bu.