Geocaching and Treasure Hunting
A child friendly activity we’ve taken part in for a few years now is geocaching which is a very fun activity whereby you hunt for hidden objects using an app, clues and GPS.
Easy! Well, sometimes…
Even Dr Who has gotten involved in a cyber version of geocaching
We use the official geocache provider, Geocaching.
You need to register an account and pay a monthly fee to get the maps, clues and hints. It’s only a few dollars for a basic account and as long as you are using it, well worth the fee.
The system works simply. You open the map in the area you are in and you can see how many geocaches there are nearby. You can choose by coordinates, post / zip code, country etc.
Then you just choose which cache you want to try hunt for and follow the map.
Ominous clue on one of our hunts!
Once in the close vicinity of the cache, you get some written clues you need to solve. These range from easy to tricky but again, you can filter based on these levels of difficulties.
You can also access helpful hints and photos that other hunters have left. It’s not cheating, it’s using all resources available 😉
Trying to figure out where to go next
The inevitable outcome is that you end up dashing around the area, frantically seeking the hidden cache, which can take many different forms including clever camouflage and trickery.
The idea is not to alert others what you are up to (they’re not in on our secret) so you need to be subtle.
We are never subtle.
If the clues are too tricky and you can’t find the cache, it’s hard to admit defeat and let go but there are times you need to concede (with bad grace) and move on to a new cache.
No defeat for us in Union Square this weekend 😉
If you’re smart and lucky, you find your cache.
Another successful find at Flushing Meadows Park in Queens
The caches can range from nanocaches which are tiny metal tubes you unscrew to reveal a thin piece of paper tightly rolled. You need to unfurl it and add your names along with the date then replace the entire object.
Signing a cache log paper
Popping our autograph on as proof we found the cache
More fun are the larger caches where you can make an entry in a logbook and leave a little gift behind. This can be a foreign coin, a very small toy, something you’ve made, stickers etc. If you leave a token, you can take a token.
The kids especially love these caches as they really do get to keep some treasure.
Leave something, take something
These are the basic caches. There are a dozen types overall including multi-caches and mega-event caches!
There are a few rules to follow. If you take something, leave something as already mentioned. Be subtle and sneaky (always completely advisable in a city on high terrorist alert, by the way), log your results on the website and the ethos of Keep it Clean.
Keep it Clean just means that you shouldn’t disturb the environment you are hunting in. You shouldn’t need to be tramping through gardens or on private property, you don’t need to destroy or break anything and ultimately, there should be no trace you were ever there.
Create a Cache
Our goal for this year is to do more geocaching but to also create our own cache.
Using the guide on the website, you can create clues and leave a cache for others to find. The kids want to do a good one where you can utilise the ‘leave something, take something’ rule so we need to do some planning but we are excited to join in the fun.
We’ve geocaching internationally. The UK, Kenya, America, Copenhagen – wherever you live or go on vacation, you can log onto your account and see if there’s a cache nearby.
It gets you walking and solving clues is actually super exciting.
NYC Public Libraries
I have to give a special shout out to the branches of our local libraries who are involved in this activity.
This weekend we tackled two public library caches and they were by far the most fun ones we have done so far.
I won’t spoil any surprises, of course, but the clues are really well thought out and the treasures hidden most deliciously.
Not all libraries are taking part but the ones that do get my vote for sure. Here are a few photos of the ones we hunted recently:
There’s a clever clue in this man hole cover if you know where to look
Public Library with a smart and brilliant geocache… ssh!
The kids are getting close to the treasure!
Give it a go and enjoy treasure hunting – just don’t wander down any dark alleys or start digging in your neighbour’s garden 😉