Who doesn’t love treasure hunting? I was totally intrigued when I first heard about Geocaching. The prospect of hidden gems right outside my front door, just hiding in the bushes, was so cool. I wanted to go find them all so I grabbed the kids and we started exploring. Turns out, geocaching is super easy, kids of all ages love it, the whole family can get involved, and it doesn’t cost a thing.
Geocaching is the perfect activity to get everyone outside, exploring, on an adventure and having fun. After the winter we’ve had, it is time to get outdoors; the snow is melting and the ice is finally thawing. There is treasure to be found !
Here is the low down on what you need to know to get started Geocaching.
The definition of geocaching from geocaching.com is “geocaching is a real-world, outdoor treasure hunting game using GPS-enabled devices. Participants navigate to a specific set of GPS co-ordinates and then attempt to find the geocache (container) hidden at that location.”
Random trinkets, jewels, toys, coins, and notes act as treasures and sometimes the cache is so small, there is just a teeny tiny scroll of paper that logs all visitors. EVERYWHERE around the world there is hidden treasure.
It all started back in 2000 when the U.S. government opened up satellite and GPS communication, enabling anyone with proper GPS receiving devices to navigate to the location of hidden items. Immediately GPS enthusiasts wanted to test the accuracy of these satellites. The first item was hidden in the woods by Dave Ulmer, its GPS coordinates sent out to an online GPS user group to see if anyone could find this “stash.” They did!
Within weeks GPS enthusiasts caught on to this stash-and-hunt idea and started hiding their own stashes. Soon the name was changed to Geo (for earth) cache (meaning hide or storage).
Now over 2.4 billion caches are hidden around the world with varying difficulty levels. Some simply hidden with specific co-oridantes to a tree or under a shrub, others require solving riddles or multi layer, multi location puzzles to find the final cache.
Get Started Geocaching
All you need to get started is a GPS enabled smart phone and an App. I purchased an app for $9.99 app but there is the website and free apps available which you can use to test it out before purchasing. You can give your family a team name, electronically check off in the caches you find, and the app offers descriptions, hints and photos of the hidden treasure if you are struggling to find it.
Ready to try it?
Go to geochaching.com on your computer.
Choose Explore as a guest and enter your postal code on the far right.
Then choose Map this Location – check out ALL the hidden treasure around you just waiting to be found!
Ready to Get the App?
Some Geocaching Rules
The best part of the geocaching experience for us has been the secret knowledge we share as a family! Imagine knowing when you are biking with your friends that there is a hidden gem by the church parking lot, or walking to school across the bridge and only you know about the camouflage covered box under it, or remembering the fun you had with your family discovering the plastic “dead” leg by the creek that hid a cache!
Geocaching has us rediscovering the paths, forests, creeks, and great outdoors in our own backyard, and where ever we travel – Grandma's house, the zoo, camping, Florida, the apple orchard - a simple “Find nearby cache” on the app turns any hike, drive or a visit into a geocaching adventure.
Give it a try and tell me how much your family loves it!
Your kids are begging for a pet. Pleading for a pet. Promising things like picking up poop and walking miles in the rain with their puppy.
P L E A S E. Can. We. Have. A. Pet?
Our kids wanted a dog. The campaigning began a couple of years ago, even after 10 years of telling them that there was NO way I was EVER getting a dog. Ask anyone; everyone knows I was NEVER getting a dog. Ever.
Meet Chloe. Our one year old Havanese.
So how did this happen you ask? I blame my friends mostly. Those active and busy friends we have, they got a puppy. They said it was great. They said a puppy fit their busy family schedule just fine. They somehow had me considering it.
There must have been a lull in the excitement at our house or I temporarily blanked out the past 10 years I swore I would never get a dog. Somehow my mind was changed and we are about to celebrate one year of owning our cute fluffy puppy. And it's been good! Once we got past the puppy puddles on the carpet and accepted the puppy toys all over the house, I can say that our puppy has fit quite well into our active family.
Before Getting a Pet, Do a Reality Check
Be sure to take stock of your average day, the hours spent carpooling to activities, outdoors being active, at work and in school. Realize that no matter how busy you are, the right pet will likely fit right in. Take into account the age of your kids and be realistic on how much they will be able help. Understand that no matter how old or responsible your kids are, YOU will do the majority of the pet care.
Look at All Breeds, Sizes, Personalities and Athletic Ability
For our active family we needed an active pet, big enough to be outside and active but small enough to be portable and cute enough that others would volunteer to pet-sit while we were on vacation or running marathons. We decided on a small dog and chose the breed carefully as well. No shedding, minimal barking, easily trained, good with kids, hypo-allergenic as possible and active.
Be Prepared to Change
When you get a pet things change – some are healthy lifestyle changes and some can make you cranky at times. For starters, you get up earlier. They are furry little alarm clocks!
We walk to school everyday now. Dog needs a walk, kids need to get to school. Both the puppy and our family are benefiting from the twice daily 2km walks to and from school.
Kids are outside every single day - rain, snow, summer sun – puppy needs her daily outdoor play time and kids signed up to do it...remember, kids?
We now do pet friendly 5km family runs. Yes, this family on the run even has a dog that runs. It started when she was 9 months old and I took her out for a 3km run. She never broke stride and by the time she was 11 months old our puppy was running 5 km with me and still looking for someone to play with after. She has since crossed a 5km finish line in 30 minutes in a full Santa Suit. Yes, we dress the dog too. Sigh.
Pack the Puppy
Get one that is portable. Our puppy goes everywhere with us. She hikes, dresses up for trick or treating, has been to triathlons, ski hills, snow tubing parks, parades, camping and to the drive in. She sat on Santa's lap, learned to swim in a lake and loves to kayak, paddleboard, surf, play soccer, and football.
Our active life hasn’t slowed down at all because we have a puppy, in fact, she encourages us to go for even more family hikes and has become quite adaptable to long road trips and taking on new adventures. And the kids are still picking up the poop . . . after we ask them several hundred times.