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Geocaching - A New Sport for the Family


Benefits of Geocaching

 

Geocaching is an outdoor physical activity much like a modern, high-tech treasure hunting game. It is currently being played in more than 200 countries with about 5 million participants around the world by kids and adults alike. The objective of the game is to look for hidden caches or containers that may be buried or just hidden on ground level. The caches may be hidden deep in the forest, mountainous tracks, parks and even the city. In order to find the hidden caches, participants must have a GPS receiver or web-enabled device or smartphone in order for them to download the coordinates of the cache. The coordinates will tell them where to look for the cache. Just like any other sports or hobby, geocaching offers a variety of benefits.

 

Of course, the benefit each participant gets will depend on how involved he or she is in the sport. First, there’s the physical benefit. Going outdoors and searching for hidden caches will definitely build your stamina and it will keep you physically active. It’s like exercising already, with all the walking and may be running that you will be doing.

 

Family Geocaching

Geocaching also benefits the participants socially. Even though it’s considered an individual sport, you will still meet new friends along the way, not to mention there are different organizations or clubs for geocaching enthusiasts. These clubs aim to help each player to be better at the sport by sharing experiences and tips with one another. It will also give the participant a sense of belonging. Geocaching can foster communication and build relationships. It is also beneficial for youth groups to engage in geocaching to build social skills and camaraderie. Some schools even adapt the way geocaching works and apply it to group activities or workshops.

 

Geocaching also provides educational benefits. Most caches are hidden near popular historical sites, and most of the caches will have information regarding that particular historical site. Participants will also learn about geography and its significance. The sport will also teach you how to follow directions by using coordinates, compass and map. When geocaching is used for teaching, it can develop math and science skills and it will also make learning the course more interesting; this, in turn will help the students become more inclined to learning.

 

There’s an economic benefit to geocaching as well. Since this is a sport played around the world, there are geocachers who travel from one country to another just to find caches, boosting tourism. And because of this, more and more towns, rural areas and countryside are putting up trails and opening up areas for cache hiding.

 

More and more people are drawn to geocaching every day. And with the benefits geocaching offers, there is no doubt that schools and other learning institutions will continue to adapt it into their system. One way to engage students in learning is to make it appealing and interesting, which is the principle behind geocaching.

Go Geocaching With Your Kids

Go Geocaching With Your Kids

 

Kids today seldom spend their day outdoors because of gadgets such as their mobile phones, laptop computers, computer tablets and many more. One way to encourage kids to spend their day engaging in physical activities outside the home is through geocaching. Parents should invite their kids to go geocaching, a new, fun outdoor activity that combines hiking and the use of technology. To go geocaching, geocachers need to use a GPS device to hunt for caches left by other geocachers or scouts.

Kids are not likely going to agree to go outdoors for a hike which is why inviting them to geocache, a high-tech treasure hunt, is a good idea. Kids will find geocaching irresistible because it involves the use of cool gadgets to hunt for caches. After trying basic geocaching a few times, kids can try more advanced versions of geocaching like multi-step puzzles, and trackable traveling objects like geocoins and travel bugs. These new activities will ensure that kids will not lose interest in geocaching.

Geocaching is an activity where participants aim to find hidden objects or containers through the use of a handheld global positioning system (GPS) device. Today, there are over 600,000 registered geocaches hidden around the world. Geocaching newbies will be surprised by how many caches are hidden in areas near their location. For starters, geocaching with kids can be a simple outing where easy-to-find caches are to be discovered. After a few geocaching activities, families can venture to multi-step lessons in GPS technology, map-reading and geography. Geocaching is also an educational activity because it is closely linked to regional history. Because many caches are hidden by children, other children will surely find discovering caches very appealing. Another good thing about geocaching is that it is a good scouting activity. Geocaching involves orienteering and other outdoor skills.

Starting on geocaching is easy. All that is needed by participants is a mapping handheld GPS receiver. Part of the fun of geocaching is learning how to use a GPS receiver with kids. Once a participant already knows how to use a GPS device, the next step is to visit geocaching websites such as Geocaching.com and registering for a free account. After registering, participant can look for caches through various parameters, such as postal codes and keywords. When providing cache descriptions, be sure to include a significant amount of details such as coordinates, type of cache and its description, as well as terrain ratings. Other clues and tips on how to find the cache may be included as well.

Kids today are experts at technology so they will do well in geocaching. Younger kids should be assigned an easier cache to discover. As they gain experience in geocaching, they can be assigned to discover more advanced terrains. To make sure that kids will enjoy geocaching, parents can provide small gifts or treats as prizes for every successful find.

Geocaching - A New Sport for Families

Haven't you looked at those handheld GPS units and tried to think of a reason to get one? They just look so cool and useful, but I couldn't think of anything I really could do with one. Well, now we have it - a new sport that is perfect for family adventures, geocaching.

 

Geocaching, Sports, What Is This?

Geocaching began as and still is a high-tech adventure game that has caught on around the world. Wikipedia describes geocaching as 'an outdoor treasure-hunting game in which the participants use a Global Positioning System receiver or other navigational techniques to hide and seek containers (called "geocaches" or "caches") anywhere in the world. A typical cache is a small waterproof container containing a logbook and "treasure", usually toys or trinkets of little monetary value.' (Wikipedia, geocaching, accessed on January 20, 2007)

The geocaching concept began in 2000 by Dave Ulmer. Because of his concerns about environmental damage due to its growing popularity, Ulmer disavowed the game at one point; but according to Wikipedia, he is now a celebrity among geocachers. (Wikipedia, Dave Ulmer, accessed on January 20, 2007) Geocaching, using the credo of 'Leave No Trace' to protect the environment, is now an activity of Boy Scouts of America, school groups, families, and responsible geocachers.

How to Play

Geocachers use the Internet to find the coordinates for caches. When a cache is found, the player records his find in the cache's log book; and may take a trinket, leaving one of his own for the next player to find. You can search by zip code to find caches in your area or in a region you will visit.

You can localize the game for kids as the Boy Scouts and school groups do. Hide a cache for your kids to find. Record the coordinates and then accompany them on the search. This is a great group activity for older kids, so gather your child and his buddies for a memorable weekend adventure that will surely hook them on the outdoors in a positive family activity.

If you've never used a GPS system before, there will be a learning curve. Do your research before you purchase a unit and pick up a book to learn the basics. You also need to learn map and compass skills to really get into geocaching. It's a great learning experience for the whole family.

Geocaching Etiquette

Whether you are doing an unofficial geocaching activity with kids or heading out to find an official geocache, you need to be familiar with the etiquette that has evolved to protect the environment and public and private property.

In most state parks, you must apply for a permit to place a cache. Though official policy is not available; generally, cache placement is not allowed in U.S. National Parks. However other federal lands owned by the U.S. Forest Service and Army Corp of Engineers may allow geocaching. You should verify permission and procedures with your local offices. Check the GeocachingPolicy.org web site for guidance to your state's geocaching policies. Never place a cache on private property without first obtaining permission from the landowner. You risk a trespassing violation and it's just not safe for kids.

A good guide for geocaching rules and etiquette with kids comes from the Boy Scouts. They emphasize 1) safety; 2) respect for the environment; and 3) respect for private property. Some rules to follow are:

  • Stay far away from road traffic and railroad crossings.
  • Don’t place a cache higher than 6 feet or require any dangerous climbing to reach it.
  • Never bury a cache in the ground. You can place a pile of sticks or rocks over it, however.
  • Avoid sensitive ecosystems. Remember that kids will make a beeline for the cache and might trample vegetation in the vicinity. Place caches so that they can be reached by existing trail access.
  • Practice Cache In and Trash Out (CITO) – always carry a trash bag and remove litter along your route.
  • Follow Leave No Trace guidelines in the natural environment.