Who doesn’t love treasure hunting? As a kid, I dreamed of finding that hidden treasure worth a fortune, and I loved scavenger hunts! Deciphering clues and the thrill of the hunt were as fun as actually finding the hidden objects. So when I heard about geocaching, I was excited to try this as one of my new experiences. Today, for the first time, my grandson Dayan and I went geocaching.
Geocaching is a treasure hunting game played outdoors, using a GPS to hide and seek containers. Once a container is hidden and the coordinates recorded, you can search for the cache. I downloaded the geocaching app on my iPhone. The Joplin area has dozens of caches hidden. Dayan and I selected one that was close to my house and off we went!
The first cache we searched for was hidden in a public park. We used the compass on the app to find the general location. We knew we were in the correct area, but being our first time to hunt, we weren’t quite sure what we were looking for! We searched the pavilion, looking beneath picnic tables and around the perimeter of the concrete base. A group of moms and kids were watching us as we searched. One asked if we had lost something. We explained the game we were playing and that we were new to geocaching and they joined us in the hunt!
What fun! Dayan and I and a group of strangers who quickly became allies, searching for a small container hidden in the pavilion. I looked up the hint and found a single word: rafters. We all began looking up and Dayan and one of our new friends found the cache, a small key holder type box held in place by magnets. Success! I opened the box and inside were folded up sheets of paper for the purpose of recording our names and the date we found the cache. Then Dayan returned the container to its hiding place for future participants.
We were elated! We had a limited amount of time, but we hurried on to our second hidden cache. We quickly found the right location, a bean tree in another public park. We searched and searched, knowing we were in the right spot, but time ran out before we found the container. We had family to meet for dinner, so we planned to return to this location another time.
Dayan and I agreed, geocaching is fun and will most likely become addictive! As he nears the end of this school year, we foresee happy summer days spent looking for a variety of hidden caches and ultimately, creating and hiding our own cache! This is a great group or family activity, incorporating thinking skills, exercise (we walked a ways to locate our second hiding spot) and cooperation. As we discovered today, you can also make new friends along the way! And as one of the moms commented, after we explained how we use a phone to help locate the treasure, “At last, a great use for a cell phone!”