My son’s school had a picnic day at Ft. Ridgely State Park, and parents and friends were invited to attend. When looking at the park’s website, I learned that the Minnesota State Parks are having a Geocaching History Challenge this year, with commemorative sesquicentennial cards to be found in caches in each of the 72 state parks.
Geocaching is a sport that’s only been around since about 2000. People hide “caches” in public areas, and then list the latitude and longitude coordinates, and possible a few clues, on the geocaching website. Others than try to find the cache, using GPS to help them find the spot. When the cache is found, the seeker logs the entry in the logbook and returns the cache to its hiding place for others to find. He may also take a trinket that was left by someone else, or leave a trinket for the next cacher.
We’ve never geocached before, but billing anything as a “treasure hunt” is a surefire way to get participation from young kids. I signed up on the geocaching website, got coordinates for some caches in our area, grabbed the GPS, and off we went.
Our first stop was a cache near our home. (I was surprised that this sport has reached our small town.) It took just a few minutes of looking before we found the cache and logged our visit.
The one at Ft. Ridgely proved to be more difficult. By the end of the picnic, I had enlisted four other adults and several kids to help find the cache, but we were unsuccessful. We did learn that our handheld “outdoor” GPS was more accurate than the car GPS, but we still didn’t find the cache.
What we did learn, however, was that this could be a fun family activity, providing exercise and exporation while looking for “treasure.” I think we’ll be trying some more geocaching in the coming months.