A couple of weekends ago we went Geocaching with Cachers Corner Store and the Bricks 4 Kidz Oshawa family. The kind gentlemen of Cachers Corner Store started us off with a little informal talk about geocaching, what it is, different things to look for, applications to download for your phone or GPS, and they even brought along several different types of cache containers to give us an idea of what to look for. We successfully found 3 different geocaches at Whitby Cullen Park and I think the adults enjoyed it as much as the kids. We have done it one other time in our neighbourhood (without help) and it really was a fun obtainable challenge. My son was SO proud when we found the “prize!” Best of all, it is a free family friendly activity.
What is geocaching?
Geocaching is essentially a treasure hunt. You use your GPS to find a package/container that has been hidden by another geocacher. Geocaches can be hidden anywhere and are everywhere. Some larger geocaches contain items you can exchange with an item you bring (for example you take a keychain and replace it with a trinket of similar value) and some only contain logs to detail who has found it and when. We’ve found both type of caches.
Where can you geocache?
Right in your own neighbourhood! Over 2 million geocaches are hidden in approximately 184 different countries, and more than 160,000 in Canada (as per geocaching.com). In our own neighbourhood we found more than half a dozen within short walking distance. These varied in difficulty and we only have found the easy ones to date. We attempted a more difficult one and walked around the same area which felt like 50 times with no success. Learning from our session with Cachers Corner Store, we will try this one again though and have a better idea of what to look for.
How do you get started?
The easiest way is to download a free geocaching app. From there, getting started is really easy. The menus are easy to navigate and map will show you where caches are in your area. We noticed that with the free application they only showed caches when we were within a specific radius of the cache itself. We can only search for things close to us and not plan an adventure further way in advance. We plan on having a few more adventures first, and then will consider upgrading to a geocaching subscription for about $30 a year, to have access to all caches worldwide and the ability to plan out other family adventures.
When you find a cache you fill out the log with your name (username) & date and update your app as found and any comments you would like to leave about the cache (this one was tricky! or container damaged, are some examples that will not only help other geocachers looking to find this cache, but the owner of the cache to set out to replace the container as required).
What do you look for?
Caches come in every size. From the size of a standard pill to a giant barrel or trunk, you can choose to look for caches that are more simplistic or very challenging. Some cache containers, as seen here, are very well disguised as electrical covers, or a rock, so you need to keep your eyes open. When you get really good you can plant your own cache for people to find. At that point, a local caching store can help you out with a weather resistant container, log book, and anything else you might like to put in your cache.
It is a great free family activity kept going by others in the geocaching community. It is interactive for a family, gets you outdoors, and is virtually free. It would make a great adventure to pack a picnic lunch and head to a park with multiple caches. It is something that mom, dad and the kids can all enjoy together.