15 Tips for Caching With Kids
This article was written by the geocaching family of Kris Mazy, or kmazy on geocaching.com. Kris can offer some unique advice that I just can’t: 15 tips for caching with kids.
Caching With Kids
In this day and age of technology, it is hard to persuade kids to get outside. I know this for a fact! We have 5 kids in our family ages 11, 8, 6, 4 and 2 who love playing on their computers, wii and gameboys. (My husband is a Network Administrator and I am a digital graphic and web designer, so computers are our life.)
A year ago, in order to both get additional exercise for our homeschooled family and find a family activity that was not only fun, but also a way to get our kids “thinking outside the everyday box”, we discovered geocaching from our friend of many years, The Outdoor Princess. With a family of this size, it was hard at first to organize ourselves to get going with any activity. In the last year, to date, our family has placed 5 and found and logged 83 caches.
Here are a few tips to get your family started in geocaching.
- When searching for caches online, find ones that are not on main busy roads. It is much too hard to get your kids out of the car and search for the geocache safely.
- Caches are ranked on the website 1 to 5, 1 being the easiest. Only take the kids out on caches that are ranked 1 to 2. Success is the key. If they can’t find it, it will no longer be fun.
- Print out each cache that you are planning on going to and put each sheet in folder. They are easier to keep track of in the car and to keep track of after you finish.
- 3-5 caches is about the limit for 2 year olds. (Trust me on that!)
- Always think ahead, carry hats, sun screen, extra batteries for the GPS, a camera or 2 and bottled water. We have a canvas bag that we load up with the essentials to take with us. Don’t forget a SNACK!!! Nothing is more trouble than a hungry 4 year old. If you are going to be gone for a long time, pack a picnic lunch.
- Before you jump in to find a cache, make sure that your kids each get a turn at carrying the GPS (they will not break them and it makes the experience more fun for them.)
- Some kids can find geocaches better than others. Let the little ones look first. It is not a game against each other. Your family is on the same team!
- Kids are smarter than you think. They will follow clues, sometimes better than adults. My 8-year-old discovered that the names of the caches are sometimes clue – If something is called a honeybee, then it is probably hidden near something yellow and black.
- You never know what you are going to come across. Keep that camera readily available.
- To get started you do NOT need a $500 GPS. We picked one up for less than $60 and it has lasted us a full year and is still going strong.
- When traveling on vacation, make use to check out the area that you are going to. On the way, there are bound to be a few that they kids will enjoy to find, also a chance to stretch your legs.
- Take photos of every place that you go. I guarantee that your 6 year old will have an adventure story to go along with each place.
- Don’t pick flowers! You never know what they are… and a 2 year old itching will end the day.
- Bring some little knickknacks to exchange. A dollar store bag of army men go a long way.
- Have FUN! This can be a GREAT family experience! It has been for our family.
Caching Parent’s Advice:
- If you could offer one piece of advice to a family new to geocaching, what would that be?
- How many geocaches do you try to find in a day?
- What size of cache do your kids prefer?
June 25, 2010 @ 3:02 pm
1. My advice for a new caching family is to start local – try to find some easy, fun ones that are close to home so that you can really get a good idea for what geocaching is all about. A second piece of advice, for iphone families, is to get the $10 geocaching app. I don’t own a handheld GPSr (besides my iphone), and we’ve found over 250 caches with that $10 investment!
2. We don’t really try to find a certain number of caches, but rather an amount of time that we’ll go cache hunting. Say, we have 2 hours to spare on a Saturday afternoon, we’ll go pick an area, find the caches nearby and try to get as many as we can!
3. The bigger, the better for my kids, because big cache = SWAG!! Though, the itty bitty nano’s are a favorite of my oldest kid, because they are so challenging. She loves finding those urban camo caches (I always bring her along but she’s GOOD at finding them, too!)
Great article – kudos to the kids for their great advice!!
June 25, 2010 @ 4:34 pm
Dear Larissa — Thanks for the additional tips! We can’t use an iPhone in this area (no service) but it is so good to know that people can get started in geocaching for as little as ten bucks! Kris’ kids are fantastic, aren’t they? It’s so cool to know I shared this great hobby with them.
June 25, 2010 @ 7:47 pm
My almost six year old has been caching with us for 3 years. She’s a pro! Now we have two baby boys and have already gone out with them. I think it’s great for kids. And really it’s something you can do anywhere, in any town. Love it!
June 25, 2010 @ 7:59 pm
Work out a way for the younger kids to be successful and participate. Taking the lead with the GPS is great. My 5 year old loves to decipher the extra clues then her older brother reads them for the family. We also have had lots of fun bringing friends along for some fun.
We don’t have a set number but like to explore an area and use geocaching to help us find interesting facts and history or a nice park and playground.
My kids love larger caches and bringing home a new toy and leave something that another child will find interesting
June 26, 2010 @ 4:33 am
Check the logs on the Caches you plan to visit…if they haven’t been found lately, or there are lots of DNF choose another cache
June 27, 2010 @ 4:53 pm
Pam — I think that’s just good advice! Often times a lot of DNF can mean the cache has been muggled or is just too difficult. I’ve also seen where the difficulty is harder than listed and that will come up as a DNF for some people as well.
June 27, 2010 @ 4:54 pm
Marya – That’s exciting! I think it’s great to start kids early since caching teaches such great respect of the outdoors. Caching has a lot of solid principals like CITO.
June 27, 2010 @ 4:56 pm
Lee – I agree: all family members should get to participate. And isn’t it exciting to see them doing something nice for a child they’ll probably never meet: leaving a toy that will make another kid happy.
June 27, 2010 @ 5:46 pm
Thanks for all of your input!! Our family found 3 more today and had 1 DNF… their goal is that 100 mark (we are at 95), although Berlyn (my 4 year old) asked what happens when we hit 100? I told him that we make a new goal for 150… Disappointed, he asked if he could get a new spiderman toy. 🙂 I told him… not a toy, but maybe Sonic Ice Cream! Cheered him right up.
Today, we took the doggies with us to a Prescott Valley Park. Although the temperature was scorching, the kids enjoyed finding what we did. A few days ago (my hubby is on “staycation”) we hiked a lake in Prescott. I mapped out a list, in order of how we plan on finding them, then once someone gets cranky, normally the 2 year old, we turn around and head back to the car.
Having a daily goal that is breakable works for us. We actually had found 7 in a row that we were planning… but the kids and dogs got hot, so we just turned around at 4. Maybe next week! 🙂
Another tip that I have is get to know the style of the cache setter. I know that Jeananjoe have a TON of magnetic ones in our area. That makes finding them a bit faster – knowing what you are looking for. 🙂
Shelby, my oldest wasn’t partnered with the youngest, Rowan, today. Rowan was very persuasive to have Shelby be her partner because Shelby helps Rowan find the cache.
We try and avoid the larger caches for the most part – We don’t need any more toys. I think that they breed at my house. 🙂
Keep on caching… and if you are in the Prescott area, be sure to Friend our family on geocaching.com. My id is kmazy and my oldest daughter Shelby made her own account today – SisterShelby.
June 28, 2010 @ 10:52 am
Ok I may be crazy or my girls are addicted to Geocaching, not sure which! My 1 year old, 2 year old, and 6 year old begged to go camping. So, off we went for the weekend. My mother and I took our little geo crazy girls 900 miles two states and 5 state parks. We stopped at the state parks to camp and refuel. My advice is go with it. Some days you can get a lot and sometimes you can get two. Just remeber the kids are the key to the fun. I could have never done this if I went with a set time or number we went with what the kids needed and wanted. We found great playgrounds to stop along the way and we truely played our way across our state!
June 28, 2010 @ 12:53 pm
Good list. It’s very similar to my own list for when I go geocaching with my 2 girls (ages 4 and 7). Here are a few other ones on my list:
1. Avoid micros. My kids are all about making the trade. They like signing the log, but the bigger the cache, the better. I save the micros for when I’m caching on my own.
2. During rattlesnake season, avoid caches that require you to go off-trail.
3. Try to end up at a park, especially a new one. My kids love discovering a new park with a playground. I try to puncuate the geocache outing someplace that has a playground, so they have some pure play time.
June 29, 2010 @ 12:05 pm
Kris — I think having a reasonable daily caching goal is good advice for just about anybody. Caching is not ONLY about the smilies, but also about new experiences and making memories.
June 29, 2010 @ 12:07 pm
Christy — That is so exciting that you caches and played your way across the state. How did you determine which parks had playgrounds?
June 29, 2010 @ 12:08 pm
Schlermie — not only kids are all about trading swag — that’s one of my favorite parts of caching as well! Thanks for the additional tips.
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September 23, 2010 @ 4:45 pm
I keep a second secret swag bag stocked with things my daughter doesn’t know that I have. When we hunt for a nano, a micro or find a poorly-stocked or dilapidated cache, she is allowed to pick something from my special swag bag. I get to decide on “how big” an item (i.e. the value of what she can choose…. a marble or two versus a slinky, for instance).
This keeps it fun for both of us and lets her enjoy micros more (she’s mostly a regular-sized cache aficionado). Plus it gives me some extra swag to use to restock caches that need a supply boost along the way.
September 24, 2010 @ 8:59 pm
Vicky — Your daughter is a kid after my own heart! I am also a big fan of caches that are big enough to trade swag.
June 15, 2014 @ 12:02 pm
Hi Guys, One of the most useful tips I would give to anyone starting out with preschool children is, have a small ‘bogus/bonus’ cache ready made up in your bag. That way if you are having a bad day with lots of DNFs and the geominis are losing the will, you can ‘discover it’ and they get a result and some swag and don’t get bored of the hunt! This is also useful if you want to find the odd micro for your score line.