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My First Time Geocaching: Tips to Get You Started

Have you tried geocaching yet? My first foray into the activity was on a summer vacation with extended family. I leveraged the mutual enthusiasm of a sister-in-law as a springboard to recruit 4 other family members—including 3 kids—to head out on our first "electronic treasure hunt". With 2 GPS devices in hand, we headed out on a community beach trail.

Kids with  geocacheI'd done my homework beforehand, signing up for a free account at geocaching.com and locating caches near the cabin where we'd be vacationing. For each nearby cache, I found cache coordinates, a general description of the area where it is located, and a few clues as to the cache location. Some clues are encrypted so you can choose, or choose not, to "peek" at the clues by clicking a decrypt link. You can even print the clues, along with decoder information, to make the decoding a pre-hunt activity (kids often enjoy this).

During my pre-vacation research, I selected 3 geocaches and printed the information for each as a take-along reminder of what we'd be looking for. With many GPS units, you can download the information directly into the unit, but having a basic model, I just entered the coordinates into my GPS and my sister-in-law did the same with her GPS when we all met at the cabin.

Starting the huntNow, here we are at the beach, first following a trail, then making our way across the rocks and seaweed, and finally onto the wet sand where we can move faster. As we near the geocache location (as indicated by the electronic arrow and ever-decreasing distance measurement on our GPS units), we head back up toward the bank, and our group spreads out, scanning the area for likely hiding spots. Our discovery doesn't come easily which makes it all the more sweeter when one of the kids finally shouts, "I found it!"

From under one of the driftwood logs, neatly tucked in the sand and grass, we extract the ammo-type box. Oh, the excitement of finding real hidden treasure! We all gather around and open the box together. Inside the cacheInside is an assortment of small toys and a logbook where we sign our names. Signing the logbookWe came prepared with some small trinkets and traded ours for some of those in the box. Following geocaching etiquette (see the REI Expert Advice Geocaching with Kids article for details), we placed everything back in the box and returned it to its hiding place in the grass under the log. Mission complete!
 
Since finding that first geocache I've hunted many others, some in my own neighborhood, some in other vacation destinations. I've found that the activity can lend incentive to hikes with kids, and in many instances take us to amazing destinations we might never have otherwise discovered: a waterfall, historic natural landmark and even a ghost town. But of all the great experiences, I'm not sure anything beats the anticipation and excitement of your first find.
 
Do you have a geocaching story to share? What was your first geocaching adventure?

Posted on at 3:42 PM

Tagged: GPS, Geocaching, Hiking, beach, geocache and trail

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Ann B

What fun! Thanks for the inspiration. It's a great way to get kids get outdoors.

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NOBIAH

A KID'S INTRODUCTION GEOCACHING
Geocaching is great outdoor family activity for summer. Take a virtual field trip to Colorado to learn about modern day Geocaching, a fun outdoor treasure hunt. (meetmeatthecorner.org)

MEET ME AT THE CORNER, Virtual Field Trips for Kids is a series of free kid-friendly educational video podcasts for children ages 5-13. Each episode comes with a list of recommended books, a list of fun websites and a Learning Corner of questions and extended activities.

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JamesL

Perfect for kids summer vacation. Though, I am still hesitant to do it because a lot of equipment is needed. Another thing, it should be performed on a place not so familiar with the kids for thrill. Well, it seems that I am not the only one who is citing financial expense as a major reason why I am deciding not to take a vacation this summer. 37 percent of American workers, in 2009, took a vacation during the summer months. That number dropped to 33 percent in 2011. Usually, individuals mention the expense of holidays as the reason they don't take a vacation. But as I read here: <a title="How to cut the major costs of vacation" href="http://personalmoneynetwork.com/moneyblog/2011/09/06/cutting-vacation-costs/">How to cut the major costs of vacation</a>, you can take a vacation without as much cost, with a little preparing.

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