A Treasure Hunt for the Whole Family
It’s hot. Kids are bored. Summer seems endless. We’re just as busy as during the school year. We need something new. Something fun. Something different. Something free. We tried geocaching.
According to www.geocaching.com, “Geocaching is a real-world, outdoor treasure hunting game using GPS-enabled devices. Participants navigate to a specific set of GPS coordinates and then attempt to find the geocache (container) hidden at that location.” In other words, geocaching is a GPS-enable treasure hunt that can extend all over the world, even under water.
Geocaching started in 2000 when new satellites were switched on, making pinpoint navigation a reality out of our 1950s science-fiction imaginations. The point is to find a location, enter its coordinates into a device and find the cache. Caches can be anything from artificial rocks to film containers with tiny treasures to large plastic tubes filled with trinkets. They are hidden in forests, under bridges, even submerged in ponds. When a cache is found, visitors sign the logbook included in the cache. Most geocachers will also include their thoughts about the cache or a story about how they found it. Geocachers are encouraged to write about their adventure online so others can find the same cache.
Tulsa has quite a remarkable selection of caches and cachers. As of April 12, 2012, there were at least 25 caches in the area for all age and experience levels. They extend throughout each sector of the Tulsa region. Find a map of them here:
Geocaching is a simple and relatively inexpensive activity to try. The only required equipment is a GPS device or GPS enabled phone. Remember that each device has a slight error, so that while hunters may get close to the actual cache, they might have to do something more, such as move some fallen branches or look in the space between large rocks. In other words, the cache is rarely in plain sight, which is part of the fun.
Geocachers take their caching seriously and they abide by some basic etiquette. Never move a found cache. If you remove something, leave something of equal or greater value behind. Make sure to write about your find. Be kind by writing in the logbook.
Cachers enjoy hunting as a family activity because it is outdoors, it is free and it encourages map-reading skills, problem-solving and some physical fitness. Geocachers like Paul Steinbruck told me via twitter that he and his wife geocache on date night, but that their children enjoy hiding caches for others to find. “We collect the little toys from kids’ meals, trinkets from around the house. Then we get online, map out a location, and go hide our cache.” Once a cache is hidden, it will require some periodic attention; children might enjoy seeing who has signed their logbook.