I love a good scavenger hunt. That thrill of successfully navigating the unknown, solving a puzzle, or locating hidden “treasure” is so satisfying and often super fun. So, it’s kind of surprising that until a few weeks ago we had never tried geocaching. I know people who do it regularly, including my friend Rebecca from Not-So-SAHM and her kids, who inspired me to finally see what the venture was all about.
All it really took was a simple Google search that led me to the Geocaching.com website, where I got the full scoop on how it works: Basically, it’s a “real world treasure hunt,” where you search for geocaches, or small hidden containers, using GPS and hints and tips from others playing/hunting along. The containers can be placed and logged by anyone in the geocaching community, and they are located all over the world. There are a bunch of other easy rules and etiquette that you can read about here.
The Geocaching.com website also offers a free app, which I downloaded before we embarked on our first geocaching adventure. Using my location, the app noted all of the nearby geocaches on a map, and I selected one just down the street from our house for an easy introduction to the pursuit. The kids invited some friends along on their treasure hunt, and they were all really excited to find the hidden cache.
The app has a built-in GPS and even counts down to several feet from the spot, which led us to the general area pretty quickly. After that, however, it took some help from the “Hint” and “Activity” features on the app. The former offers a tip, but usually a veiled one, so you still have some solving to do. The latter is the log of others who have searched for, and most often found, the geocache; many include notes that come in handy as you’re looking. Also among the features is an “About” tab that gives background on the geocache location and what may have led to its placement. This is interesting and worth the read.
Once we zeroed in on the location of our geocache, it was just a matter of finding exactly where it was. It took a few minutes, but we did it. The kids all crowded around as I opened the small metal magnetic container, eager to see what was inside. It was a long strip of paper about an inch wide rolled up tightly. We uncoiled it to find names and dates of all those who had been there before us. A note on the app had said to bring a pen, so I used it to add our name (KidFriendly DC). Then the kids rolled the paper back up and returned it to its container and placed it back where we found it. After that I logged our find on the app. Success!
I’ve read that some geocaches may be larger and contain an item that you can take, though rules recommend you replace it with something of equal or greater value. Sasha and I found another geocache not far from our house, which was also a scroll of paper where we just added our name. But we’re excited to see what kinds of treasures — and adventures — await!
For more details on getting started on your treasure hunt adventures, visit the Geocaching.com website
2 Responses to Caching in Around DC
If you liked geo-caching you should try letter-boxing. It’s similar but with stamps. Usually the stamps are homemade and really neat. You stamp the log book in the cache with your stamp and then stamp the found stamp in your own journal. We have loved finding them and having a visual journal of our adventures. They are hidden all over the area. We even do it on vacations. The website is atlasquest.com
Great explanation of geocaching! I just finished a trip to DC and geocached there for the first time. It was awesome but most of my finds were virtual caches near the National Mall.