Fun Stuff: Geocaching

So this week I’m off on vacation, so expect a few “fun with technology” posts.

Today I wanted to talk about something quite interesting that my oldest daughter and I tried out. It’s called Geocaching.  What is it?  Well from the official geocaching website they define geocaching as follows:

GEOCACHING is a real-world outdoor treasure hunting game. Players try to locate hidden containers, called geocaches, using GPS-enabled devices and then share their experiences online.

It sounded intriguing to me.  We like to be active and love walking.  On vacation we love to explore.  I thought that this might be an interesting thing to try.  So we downloaded the geocaching app to our iPhones.  The way geocaching works is, somebody “hides” a container in a particular location.  That container can have anything in it, plus usually a log book that can be signed by the various people who find the hidden item.

With the iPhone app installed, we were set to see what geocache items might be near our neighborhood.  Much to our surprise, we saw a marker in a park nearby our home.  We’ve been to this park hundreds of times – both my daughter and I were skeptical.  Being new to this whole geocaching thing, we found it hard to believe that someone could have hidden an item in the park so close to our home. We’d never noticed anything before!

We donned our running shoes and headed out the door.  The geocache app showed our current position and illustrated a path to the hidden item.   We walked to the park and as the map zoomed in we began to wonder “Could there really be something here?”  As we walked slowly now through the field, we continued to draw nearer.  Finally my oldest dashed to a nearby tree and said “My app is tell me it is here.”  I glanced up into the tree, and sure enough, in a hard to see nook, there was a container wrapped in camouflage tape. I stretched and stood on my toes and pulled the container down.  Inside was an assortment of fun little trinkets.  Plastic toys, coins, coupons.  There was a log book that had been signed by hundreds of people.  I entered our names into the little log book; my daughter smiling victoriously.  She quickly updated the geocaching app to indicate we’d found it.  Carefully I closed the container back up and returned it to it’s hiding place.

‘Interesting’, I thought to myself.  I looked over at my daughter and she was looking at the geocaching app again.

“I found another one we can walk to,” she said.  I glanced at the information, it was 600 meters away down in the Don Parklands.  We set off again.  It’s amazing because it’s fun and techy, and yet, it is encouraging exercise.  We hiked down into the parklands and began exploring again.  I’m not sure why it is fun, but it is.  And it’s good exercise.  When all was said and done, we’d logged several kilometers exploring different geocaching locations.

I liked this because it was an innovative and interesting social use of technology and it encouraged exploring areas and exercise in the form of walking or hiking.  It was a great father-daughter activity and I look forward to trying it again in other areas like up at the cottage, visiting different cities and seeing if such hidden treasures exist in places like near to the office.  My daughter has been busy planning her own geocache hide – thinking of what to put in the container and where to hide it for others to find.

For a closer look at this interesting outdoor-technology adventure, check out the video below.

Categories: Kids, Mobile Computing

Tags: , , , ,

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