Guest post by Alexis Bonari: Geocaching for Outdoor Play
Alexis Bonari is a freelance writer and researcher for College Scholarships, where recently she’s been researching health management scholarships as well as health science scholarships. Whenever she gets some free time, she enjoys watching a funny movie or curling up with a good book. Here she describes to us how to use a GPS to help children and families enjoy the outdoors more.
Geocaching with Kids
Kids love adventure and scouting out new things. What better way to get your kids to be more active than to turn exercise into a treasure-seeking mission and your children into pirates or adventurers like Indiana Jones? You don’t even need to travel the world to do it!
Geocaching — pronounce “gee-oh-cash-ing” — has gained in popularity over the past few years. The basic idea is that you use a GPS device to map the location of a cache, which can contain any manner of treasures left behind by fellow geocachers. Sometimes the treasure is simply the thrill of finding the location, as some advanced locations can be quite tricky to find or to reach (some geocaches are located in caves under the sea, for example). However, most caches are easily accessible, and many can be found within your community. There are hundreds of thousands of caches located throughout the world, and you can start your search at http://www.geocaching.com/.
All you need to get started is a GPS device, which you can purchase for about $100 to $300, depending on the perks. You can also download a program for your phone, depending on the model.
Going with Kids
We’re assuming that although your son may be quite the gifted student, he likely isn’t ready for deep-sea diving. You’ll want to start your geocaching adventures with sites that are easy to find and aren’t too difficult to reach. The Web site includes a description of the sites posted, with difficulty rankings.
Before you set out on your search, be sure you are well equipped. If you will be gone for a long period, make sure you take enough water and a light picnic or snacks. Take what you will need to record your adventure, including a pencil and notebook and a camera.
Make it a Learning Opportunity
Geocaching is not only a great way to get your kids outside and being more active — either through walking, hiking, or even swimming — it is also a great way to teach them more about your local community and about nature. As you search for your cache, take time to observe the local wildlife, including varieties of birds, small animals such as squirrels and chipmunks, and maybe even deer. Also note the variety of plants and flowers you find. Ask your children to talk about what they know of the wildlife and plants, or to talk about what they see and what they can understand about the environment from its inhabitants. Write down questions to investigate later (what was that purple flower? do birds eat nuts?) and talk about what you learned.
Because geocaching combines physical activity with an adventurous spirit, it is a great way to get kids involved in outdoor play and to become more active in their local community. Use this fun activity as a way to get kids to become more curious about their environments and eager to explore more!