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Geocaching with Kids: The Ultimate Treasure Hunt

geocaching with kids

Are you ready to take your family on a geocaching adventure? With spring around the corner, now is the perfect time to explore the outdoors and hunt for some treasure. Geocaching with kids is awesome! We have been geocaching since 2006 and absolutely love it. It’s practically free, gets you outdoors and makes you feel like a real pirate. Before kids, Ryan and I would spend the weekends geocaching and exploring parts of town we didn’t even know existed. Now, with two little kids, geocaching has become a monthly adventure.

geocaching with kids

What is geocaching?

Geocaching is a modern day treasure hunt using handheld GPS units (and even your iPhone!). The treasures are containers of all sizes that may be camouflaged to blend into their surroundings. Some are in locations you pass every day, others take you off the beaten path into a whole new world. Inside the cache, there will be a at least a logbook to sign. The larger caches (usually Army ammo boxes) are filled with inexpensive trinkets for trade (like bouncy balls, stickers, Happy Meal toys, etc).

It is insane how many caches are hidden around the world— currently 1,676,355 to be exact! Every town I have lived in and visited have multiple caches— it will blow your mind. For example, right now I live in Wesley Chapel, FL (a town that really didn’t exist 10 years ago.) Within 3 miles of my house, there are 31 caches. So, yes you can do this anywhere!

What do I need to start geocaching?

If you have an iPhone, just buy the Geocaching app for $9.99— it will make geocaching a breeze. It’s all I use now! If you don’t have an iPhone, this is what you need:

1. A handheld GPS or an Android (they have apps for this as well).

2. Go to Geocaching.com and create an account. You can use the free account, or if you want more bells and whistle, buy the premium membership for $30 a year. From here, you can locate all the caches around you and begin the treasure hunt.

3. A backpack or treasure box to store your supplies. We found an old cassette tape holder at a thrift store and use it for geocaching. Inside, we keep our hand-held GPS (which the kids use now that I have the iPhone app), a pen, and some toys to exchange when we find the cache.

*The rule of geocaching is that if you take something from the cache, you must replace it with something of equal or greater value.

geocaching with kids

geocaching app

Some caches are really easy to find while others may require a long hike, so make sure to check the difficulty and terrain ratings on Geocaching.com before you go.

* FYI: A “1 star” difficulty and terrain rating are the easiest and best for your first time. Cache sizes are also given online, so if your children like exchanging treasures, make sure the cache us large enough (regular or larger size— stay away from the micro caches).

geocaching with kids

The geocache adventure!

Decide which geocache you want to find, then head towards that location in your car or on a bike. Usually there will be parking instructions as part of the cache information. From here, let your GPS guide you to the exact location of the cache. Could be anywhere from 10 feet away to a couple miles away. So pack accordingly— we usually bring some water bottles and snacks for the kids. Once you are within 20 feet, begin to look around (up, down, underground… everywhere!).

geocaching with kids

geocaching with kids

This is when it gets exciting— everyone wants to find it first. We have found caches hidden in old rotten logs, tied in trees, camouflaged under bushes and magnetized to benches and newspaper stands. You really never know what to expect when you are geocaching! (Last time we had to build a bridge to cross a creek!)

geocaching with kids

Once you find it:
Celebrate and make sure every one can see where it was hiding. Kids eat this up and remember it for the next outing. Next, open up the cache and examine its contents. If there are trinkets, feel free to exchange one for one of your own. Then sign the log book. It’s an incredible feeling to read the log book and see how many other people have been off the beaten path just like you.

geocaching with kids

geocaching with kids

If you are using your iPhone app, you can “log your visit” right on the phone. If not, go home and make sure to log your visit on the computer, letting others know you found it. If you couldn’t find it, you can alway say that and even contact the original hider for a clue. Sometimes the caches are vandalized or natural disasters wash them away.

Why I love geocaching

It’s funny, but I couldn’t image life without geocaching. It’s our go-to thing when we get stir crazy. Last summer, we drove across country with the kids and geocached along the way. It’s practically free — once you buy the app and GPS/smartphone, you are good to go for life.

My favorite thing about geocaching is that it reminds us all that there is more to life than what you can see and that adventure is everywhere.

I hope that you will be inspired to try geocaching. It really is a lot of fun and can be done practically anywhere. If nature is not your thing, stick to geocaching in city parks or around town (there are tons by stores and malls!). I love when there are ones at Starbucks because I can grab a drink and the kids can find a cache.

Speak your mind!

Do you geocache? Share some of your adventures or tips with other families! If this is your first time, feel free to post questions!

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84 Responses to Geocaching with Kids: The Ultimate Treasure Hunt

  1. Ryan Hansard March 16, 2012 at 5:18 am #

    Geocaching is really fun, you see how creative people can be. In a way you become friends with people you don’t know and never have met. I remember looking for one for hours (this was before kids, now if we don’t find it within a few minutes we give up) and finally we found it. The feeling you get when you find the cache is worth it. It also makes me feel like a pirate which is pretty cool.

  2. Jenni March 16, 2012 at 6:11 am #

    My hubby and I used to love geocaching as a couple, both locally and when we were on vacation. Now that we have kids that are almost old enough to give it a whirl, I can see how much more fun it’s going to be as a family of four! Will definitely be downloading the app sometime soon and taking Carter and Collin on their first treasure hunt. :)

    • familysponge March 21, 2012 at 5:47 pm #

      Yeah! Brothers out on an adventure— I can just see some amazing photos in your future.

  3. Jadah March 16, 2012 at 8:34 am #

    I love this! I heard about geocaching a few years ago from my friends on Kauai. I definitely want to do this with Zoe and my husband George. I love how you can create an adventure right in your home town. Thanks for inspiring me with the step-by-step guide to start a geocaching adventure with my family! And I am definitely getting the iPhone app.

  4. Popo Joy March 17, 2012 at 5:51 pm #

    This sounds so cool! Thanks for sharing your adventure. Can’t wait to try it!

  5. Adriana March 19, 2012 at 1:36 pm #

    I love getting outdoors and geocaching with my son. We have found some great caches while biking or hiking. We are by no means expert ‘cachers’ and I have just recently purchased the official iphone app.
    For over a year I was using the free version of the iphone app and even though it was limited it worked just fine for casual ‘hunts’. Once we got more into geocaching, I decided to pull the trigger and purchase the paid version of the app.
    I’d love to connect with other geocachers out there so we can share our experience. My username at Geocaching.com is MtDiabloHuntClub.
    Happy caching everyone!

    • familysponge March 21, 2012 at 5:45 pm #

      Hello fellow geocacher! Our name is TeamHansard— feel free to look us up. Could be neat to have a FamilySponge geocaching page where we share our favorite geocaching adventures. Adriana— do you have any pictures / adventures you would like to share? I really want people to understand what geocaching is and lure them into it. It’s soooo much fun! — Jen

  6. Kaley March 20, 2012 at 5:06 pm #

    Thank you for explaining what all the hype was about! I’ve met some crazy moms who rave about this activity and all I can think is, “Outside? Maps? Really???” But you provided a great explaination and how-to guide for people who don’t know what all the fuss is about. The crazy moms couldn’t even come close to making geocaching sound fun. I was this close to pulling on my sneakers and trying to figure it out… but then it snowed. But thank you for the great article! This sounds like an activity that my husband will really enjoy and make me forget I’m outside!

    • familysponge March 21, 2012 at 5:47 pm #

      Kaley— you would love it. I know your competitive side and I could see you getting really into it. And I am sure your hubby would eat it up— maybe a Father’s Day present this year? :) btw: I have been meaning to call you back…. Sorry.

      • Kaley March 21, 2012 at 8:02 pm #

        I have to pop out another 9lb kid two weeks before Father’s Day… but maybe for his birthday! It would be a fun activity to do just with Gabe after the baby is born and leave her with a sitter. I’m waiting for the phone call… :)

  7. Cachin'Canuck March 30, 2012 at 1:12 am #

    I am a single mom o two rambunctious boys, 3 & 5 and they love geo-caching and finding treasure!

    We jut started up again an are having a blast. As you said, it’s a cheap fun way to et out of the house and be as active or not as you want. It’s a great bonding activity that gets the kids thinking and having a blast.

    Tanya

    • Cachin'Canuck March 30, 2012 at 1:12 am #

      You can tell I typed that up quickly on my iPhone! Sorry for all of the typos!!

      • Family Sponge April 18, 2012 at 5:07 pm #

        Hey Tonya! Glad you are hooked like I am! It really is great for kids of all ages, especially the rambunctious ones.

  8. Lana March 31, 2013 at 12:24 pm #

    We’ve been geocaching since my daughter was 2. She’s 6 now. We have a 3 year old son and he likes going too. The kids enjoy the different places we discover, especially when we run in to a playground. The bigger caches are their favorites because they love finding toys. Its fun to cache with the kids (and the hubby when he’s up for it) but I also enjoy going by myself. I try to get out one Saturday a month to cache alone or with a friend. It’s a good way to destress and get some much needed mommy time.

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    […] Get into geocaching. Everyone loves a scavenger hunt! Get in on the latest outdoor craze with geocaching, where families search for hidden “caches” or containers using handheld GPS tools (or a GPS app on your smart phone). Try a variation on geocaching called earthcaching where you seek out and learn about unique geologic features. Find more details about geocaching plus links to geocaching websites in this article from the School Family website,Geocaching 101: Family Fun for All, in Every Season. Or follow one young family on their geocaching adventure: Geocaching with Kids: The Ultimate Treasure Hunt. […]

  10. Allow the Steam Shower to Improve Your Families Health | Nichole Anderson - August 9, 2014

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