Geocaching in Northern Michigan is a fun way to get your kids outside and moving. If you haven’t tried the sport yet, here’s what you need to know.
What is Geocaching?
Geocaching is an outdoor scavenger hunt for kids and adults. Using handheld GPS units, find hidden “caches” that are camouflaged to blend into their surroundings. Inside the caches—generally a plastic or metal box—is a logbook to sign, and some caches even have prizes!
What Equipment is Needed?
- Access to Geocaching.com. The website lists millions of active geocaches worldwide.
- A handheld GPS unit OR the geocaching app on iPhone or Android. The app is free to download but has various memberships and subscriptions ranging from $5.99 to $29.99. A handheld GPS unit ranges in price from $90 to several hundred dollars for more advanced features.
- Comfortable shoes and clothing for hiking.
How Do You Find a Cache?
- Create a free account on Geocaching.com.
- Choose a cache to search for. Some are easy to find while others involve a long hike. The difficulty and terrain ratings are available on Geocaching.com.
- Depending on how far away the cache is, drive or bike to the area. Parking instructions are usually included in the cache information.
- From there, the GPS will guide you to the location of the cache. Most GPS units are accurate to within 20 feet, so when you get close, look for piles of sticks, rocks, old logs, or other unusual looking spots where the cache may be hidden.
- Once you find the cache, sign and date the logbook and re-hide the geocache exactly how you found it.
Rule of geocaching: If you take something from a cache, you must replace it with something of equal or greater value.
Tips for Geocaching With Kids:
- Bring snacks and water if you’re going to be outside for a long period of time.
- If your kids are motivated by treasure, plan geocaching outings you know will have prizes. Regular or larger-size caches are more likely to be filled with prizes like bouncy balls, stickers, small toys, etc. If you take a prize, be sure to replace it. Cache size is available on Geocaching.com.
- Find caches that match your child’s age and ability. One star difficulty and terrain ratings are a good start for young children.