Try geocaching for Earth Day family fun

About two months ago, my (Lynn) husband and I got caught up in geocaching. It can give you great exercise for body and brain, but best of all, it's fun!


What is geocaching? It's a modern day treasure hunt. Using a GPS (you can use any portable GPS–from your car, a cell phone, a mini-computer or a handheld), you seek out a hidden container called a cache. More than 1 million caches are hidden around the world! 


Caches contain a log of some type so you can write your geocaching name and date to indicate you made the find. Some caches are so tiny, a rolled up slip of paper is all they can hold. (See photo to left.) Others are large boxes containing trinkets for kids (and interested grown ups), to trade. Some contain travel bugs which you can take and move to another cache, leap-frogging the bug around the world or to a specific destination.


Caches are graded in difficulty of terrain and difficulty in relation to finding them. Most difficult is 5 and least is 1. We're still mostly seeking and finding 1's and 1.5's. Even so, some of them are not so easy. For instance, if you are in the woods, the GPS may or may not work!


You locate caches by visiting www.Geocaching.com Once there, you sign up for a free account, then hook up your GPS device to your computer and download caches, along with maps, parking and even, for some caches, hints. (Gotta love those!)

We started by searching for caches near our house. We livein the country and I was flabbergasted when I found literally dozens of caches within five or six miles of our home! A few weeks after we started, we took a trip to Mt. Rainier and found six within a few miles of the B&B we stayed at. Since then, our weekend jaunts around the area always include geocaching.


Because we're not into plastic do-dads, when we take the grandkids out, they geocache for dollars. Every time they find a cache, we give them $1, but they don't take anything from the cache itself. They are more than satisfied with this approach.

The other day we ran into a couple with two boys, 4 and 3. The mom told me that they had taken the kids geocaching in the mountains where in the past, they'd barely walked a quarter mile before the complaining began. Now that the family is seeking treasure, the boys trek for two hours without a peep!

So what better idea for Earth Day than to give geocaching a try? If you have questions about it, (honestly, it's a bit confusing, but once you get it figured out, it's easy), just let me know in the comments section below or tell us about your geocaching adventures!

Lynn Colwell and Corey Colwell-Lipson are a mother-daughter team and co-authors of Celebrate Green! Creating Eco-Savvy Holidays, Celebrations and Traditions for the Whole Family, available at www.CelebrateGreen.net.

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