Wednesday, September 19, 2012
C is for Cache
I first heard of geocaching when Sassy & MiniMe were toddlers, I filed it away in my mental file of "things to look into when they're older" and kind of forgot about it. A few times since then, something has brought it forward in my mind and I've thought "I should look into that" and that's as far as I got. Last spring I was talking to a friend who mentioned that her children, about the same age as MiniMe and Sassy, enjoy it, so that moved it up some on my mental "someday" list. At that point I actually got as far as googling it, and getting on the email list at geocaching.com. That meant I started getting "reminders" every couple weeks in the form of emails from geocaching.com.
Fast forward to earlier this week . . . we're visiting my parents, busy doing lots of fun field trips and such, but then I happened to get an e-mail from geocaching.com Sunday morning, and seeing it, led to me checking, just for fun, to see if there were any caches near my parents' house. And one was not only near my parents' house, but at a tiny little civil war marker that I had been thinking we should include in our Civil War studies, but kept not thinking about it when we had time. So, I mentioned it to my dad, with MiniMe and Sassy within earshot. And they wanted to know what geocaching is, so we explained it and they were ready to go RIGHT.THIS.MINUTE!!!!
We didn't even actually USE a gps for that first one, we knew where it was, it was such a small location, so we just went and read about the skirmish that happened right there, literally in the "middle of the road" now . . . and hunted around the fence and rocks and trees and finally found what we were looking for.
If you're not familiar with geocaching, you can read all about it on the site I mentioned, but in a nutshell, people hide "caches" (small boxes/containers) various places, then post to the geocaching website giving the latitude & longitude coordinates of the location along with some clues. They also indicate how difficult the terrain is (if you have to hike 50 miles through the wilderness or just stop by the side of the road LOL), how hard it is to find (I'm not sure if the HIDER determines this or people who've found it, seems like that could be a pretty different perspective LOL), and how big a container you're looking for. INSIDE the container is (supposed to be), at minimum, some sheets of paper or a small notebook so that each person who finds it can sign saying they found it. If the cache is big enough, it often also includes "tradeables", the person who hid the cache puts some type of "prize" in for whoever finds it first. That person, in turn, takes the prize and leaves something of equal or greater value, and so on . . . anyone who finds it has the option to "trade" or to just leave the item for the next person. When you get back to your computer (or, right away if you have the app on your smart phone) you also log your find on the website.
So, back to our first hunt . . . we finally found it, and there WAS a cute toy in it (rubber ducky) but since I was still figuring out how it all worked, we didn't have anything to trade, I'd pre-warned the girls of all this, so they were ok with it). There was NOT a log book in it, sigh . . . so we just re-hid it and continued with our day. I logged our find online when we got back to my parents' house that evening (I do have a smart phone, but want to make sure we're in this for the long-haul before I spend $10 on an app, I'm cheap that way LOL).
As we were driving away, the girls were asking "are there more around here?", "when can we find another one?" so it was a hit, even without getting to keep the "treasure".
That evening dad & I both looked at some other caches nearby and the next day we headed out again, leaving Mama and Little Bit at home so Little Bit could nap. The girls are SOO into it! Even not being able to find one didn't phase them, although we may stop by and take another go at that one before we head home this afternoon. The ones we found the second day were too small to have tradeables in them, but the girls didn't mind that either, though they are looking forward to finding more with "treasures" in them (I ordered some little toys from Oriental Trading to have for trading, though when we went hunting on Monday I'd told them that if we DID find any tradeables, we could go into the Walmart that was nearby and buy some type of do-dad to trade).
This is a great way to learn about geography, map skills, latitude/longitude, and get some good exercise and fun family time! After "helping" Papa, out in the yard, figure out how his GPS would work for this, Sassy came in and asked me "do YOU know how many degrees are in a circle?" she was rather disappointed to learn that I did LOL.
To see what other bloggers think of when they think of the letter C, visit Ben and Me!