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Our Introduction to Geocaching: the real treasure was finding a hobby this awesome!

A few weeks ago we were lucky enough to be introduced to the amazing activity that is geocaching by some friends. As I'm a complete newcomer to this activity, I'll briefly liberate you from my inarticulate twaddle and instead fall back on Wikipedia to say:

"Geocaching /ˈdʒiːoʊˌkæʃɪŋ/ is an outdoor recreational activity, in which participants use a Global Positioning System (GPS) receiver or mobile device and other navigational techniques to hide and seek containers, called "geocaches" or "caches", at specific locations marked by coordinates all over the world.

A typical cache is a small waterproof container containing a logbook and sometimes a pen or pencil. The geocacher signs the log with their established code name and dates it, in order to prove that they found the cache. After signing the log, the cache must be placed back exactly where the person found it. Larger containers such as plastic storage containers (Tupperware or similar) or ammunition boxes can also contain items for trading, such as toys or trinkets, usually of more sentimental worth than financial." Geocaching - Wikipedia 2020

I strongly recommend you do go onto the Wikipedia page, as it provides a fascinating history of the origins of geocaching, especially its relation to Letterboxing, which I had never heard of but which is a form of sleuthing and treasure hunting over 160 years old.

The prevalence of mobile phones has helped geocaching take off: there are now numerous different types of cache in locations all around the globe.... and apparently, in outer space too....on the International Space Station!

The home of geocaching is geocaching.com, where you can download the official apps and create an account to log your finds. As their website explains, there are so many things to love about this activity: a really exciting way to get kids (and parents!) outside, exploring places they may otherwise not have ventured to, with the thrill of a discovery along the way. Their "15 Reasons to Love Geocaching" page is well worth a look for more reasons to give this a try.

Now my eldest isn't a natural walker, although she likes outdoor activities like kayaking and camping. But I was amazed at how quickly she got into the activity, and not only that, how quickly she bonded with the similar-age daughter of the friends with whom we went, and whom she had never met. None of the usual shyness that I've seen even at a kayaking day or camp; the two heads were straight down looking at the app together, discussing tactics, and then running off through the trees to find the first location.

As for my youngest, who just turned 4, the thrill of being able to take a little keepsake from the geocache and replace it with a similar small trinket for the next finder was almost too much to bear.

I know for a fact, particularly with my 11-year-old daughter, that the promise of doing this again will make all the difference between an enthusiastic countenance the next time a walk is suggested and the usual eye-roll!

Huge thanks to Fiona, Jess and Finlay for introducing us to something so awesome, that will make such a difference to my future walks with my kids!

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