A Free Summer Activity That's Fun For the Whole Family
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I love having the kids home from school for summer. We have so much fun going to the zoo, museums, beach, and on road trips! But man, summer time activities can get expensive and add up quickly! One activity we tried last year for the first time was geocaching.
I have a pretty good sense of direction. I can usually find my car at a shopping mall parking lot and I actually know how to read a map outside of using a GPS. But when my dad introduced me to geocaching, I knew the kids and I would just love it - and you don't have to be super savvy to do it!
Have you ever heard of geocaching? This is a free activity to play with your family that involves following coordinates to hidden treasures. The cool part? They're hidden all over the world! In fact, you've probably walked right past them and never even known they were there!
How to get started: Download the Geocaching app or go to their website and sign up for a free account. Then, you search for geocaches in your area or the area you'd like to explore. National parks and landmarks are always gold mines for these!
You then type the coordinates into your phone or GPS and follow it to the approximate location. I like using a GPS (armed with Energizer® Ultimate Lithium™ batteries) because it's usually more precise than a phone's global positioning system and follow the coordinates to the treasure site or "cache".
Once you arrive at the location of the cache, it is NOT going to be visible. If it was, people would probably take them without even knowing it. Most of the time, a "cache" is a waterproof box or canister of some kind that has a log book, pencil, and trinkets in it, although sometimes it's just big enough for log book. Sometimes the cache is the size of a loaf of bread and others it's the size of a film canister - so yeah, it can get tricky.
On the log, you typically write the date you found the cache and your name. If it has trinkets in it, you typically take one from the cache to keep and you bring your own trinkets to add to it. Usually it's a one out and one in kind of situation. These trinkets can be coins, tiny flags from your country, or plastic army guys like my kids chose to bring. If you have the geocache app, you can also log that you found the cache in the digital log - but that's not near as fun as seeing other peoples' actual handwriting.
Of course, the most important thing is that you have a well-powered GPS. You do not want to get out in the middle of nowhere, only for your batteries to die - thus making the fun come to a crashing hault. My batteries of choice are the Energizer® Ultimate Lithium™ batteries. Energizer® Ultimate Lithium™ batteries are the #1 longest lasting battery out there. They can perform in temperatures from -40F to 140F, and they also have a shelf life of 20 years (for AA and AAA at least)! They come in packs of 4 and 8, so you'll be able to stock up when you need them. They are super reliable for when you need them most - like wandering around trying to find some buried treasure. I found mine at Kroger, if you're looking to get some.
If you’d like to see more activities Energizer can help power you through, click here to see their Facebook page.
Here's a few acronyms you'll need to know before getting started:
- TB - Travel Bugs - A trackable token with a code. These "caches" usually have little tags on them with a code that you can type in. If you take this travel bug, make sure you place it in another geocache somewhere else. These are being tracked so that you can see where they have been - a lot of times, it's visited all around the globe!
- FTF - First To Find - They found the cache first before anyone else has logged it.
- TFTC - Thanks for the Cache
- DNF - Did Not Find - This is only for if you're using the app of course.
- Logbook - Register of who has found that particular cache.
- GZ - Ground Zero - The cache is 0 feet away, so start looking right where you are. Trees are usually a good place to start.
- SL - Signed Log - Another code that's only used on the app
- Muggle - A non-geocacher - It's important that when you find the cache, you make sure other people aren't around to see you find it, which can be quite difficult. If "muggles" see it, they might destroy it or take it, which would leave no fun for us!
- Micro - Size of a film canister - Caches are typically described by their size. A micro is the smallest of the cache sizes, and therefore the hardest to find.
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