Being outdoor bloggers, we love being outdoors – to state the flipping obvious. But our darling daughter was not always so keen.
Without supergluing her into walking boots and making her get outside we were a little stuck. How could we get her to fall in love with being outdoors? Our salvation came in the form of Geocaching. Yours may still be the supergluing of hiking boots to feet but we’ll leave you to that!
We’d tried Geocaching in our previous life as a couple. If, at this stage, you’re wondering what on earth I’m going on about, this blog will explain. You’ll see then how to use Geocaching to persuade reluctant youngsters out in to the open air. Though I freely admit you might have to do some bribing!
What is Geocaching?
In essence you’re trying to find a ‘Cache’ (read plastic tub) in a particular location, using the Global Positioning System (GPS). The cache is usually a Tupperware tub, with a log book and ‘treasure’ inside it. You find the cache using GPS locations already uploaded to the Geocache website: https://www.geocaching.com/play.
It’s much easier than you might think. In the old days we used a satellite hand held GPS unit. Now though, as with everything, it’s all done on your phone.
Go into the woods (in our case Savernake Forest, near Marlborough) and use the Geocache App on your phone to find the location of your first cache.
Start walking towards it, and when the App says you’re near, begin hunting. You’ll often find the cache in the base of a tree, hidden under logs or in hollows. Open up the tub, mark in the log book that you were there (using your username ID from the website), take a small item of treasure, and put your own treasure back in the tub. Try if you can to upgrade the treasure. Replace the cache where you found it, find the next cache location and off you go.
With over 2 million cache’s worldwide and more being added every day, it’s an endless treasure hunt.
Back at home, you sign into the Geocaching website and log which caches you found. The one main rule is that you have to trade treasure; you can’t take and not put back in.
Here’s a handy YouTube video that explains it all, probably better than I can
How did geocaching get started?
Geocaching (pronounced geo-cashing) first appeared in May 2000, just after Selective Availability (SA) was removed from the Global Positioning System (GPS). This meant that GPS was available to all and became more accurate. A small container could be located and found using GPS co-ordinates.
On 3 May 2000, the first documented GPS located geocache took place, by Dave Ulmer of Beavercreek, Oregon. He posted the location on the Usenet newsgroup; it was found twice and logged once.
Geocaching moves with the Internet
To keep the treasure hunt alive and more interesting, Geocaching introduced Travel Bugs. These are trackable tags produced by the Groundspeak Company. Attach the tag to an item and place it in the cache. The next person to find the cache can take the tagged item and place it in their next cache find. The unwritten rule is that you only take the tagged item, if you’re going to be geocaching in another area.
Some travel bugs have a ‘goal’ i.e. to get closer to the sea etc. Therefore if you pick up a travel bug you need to help it on its way!
Savernake Forest Geocaching
We’re supremely lucky to live in Swindon (I didn’t always think so, believe you me, having moved from Somerset). It’s central, and within 10-20 minutes you’re out on the Marlborough Downs, or in South Cerney Water Park or even in Savernake Forest.
This ancient forest is over 1100 hectares in size. It’s classified as a Special Site of Scientific Interest (SSSI). First mentioned, in the records of King Athlestan, in AD934 as ‘Safernoc’.
The views of the large oaks are wondrous, and it makes a good gentle walk. We venture out there in our campervan every now and then to go walking, squirrel spotting and now Geocaching.
Before you set off Geocaching you’ll need:
- Phone with App on
- Pen for log book initialling
- Treasure to trade (think trinkets, hair bands, McDonald’s Happy Meal toys, coins, small toys)
- Patience! Strong sense of humour
Our circuit was called the Savernake Saunter and caches were placed every 200m or so. Nice and easy for little ones as well as us big uns! There were nine caches, and we found all except two, which we struggled with.
Most of the caches were small tubes. This type of cache doesn’t contain treasure – much to the daughter’s consternation – just the log book to be signed. There were two-three Tupperware tubs and a Horlicks container, where we managed to trade treasure. The daughter acquired a Ninjago Lego figure, a stickle figure from Aldi and a 20 Drachma coin. We put in a small set of pencils, a set of sticky gems and a funky hairband.
As you can see the treasure doesn’t have to be big. It’s the thrill of finding a camouflaged tub that makes the Geocaching special – oh who am I kidding?! To find a Lego figure was exciting beyond belief! He’s currently guarding a Lego Elves castle!!
Watch as the time flies by.
We spent a good three hours walking to find these caches. Along the way enjoyed the sunshine and chatted about stuff you never hear at the dining table. We spotted squirrels and dormice, walked in muddy puddles and back out again, before upping our Fitbit scores – in competition, his nibs and moi – surely not?! All before finally, getting back to Artie the campervan and having a spot of lunch while reviewing our treasure.
If you have children or even adults who are a little loath to #getoutdoors, geocaching is a great way to entice them out.
Let us know what you think, and if you find any good places to go Geocaching. We’re taking the app to France along with as many Mcdonald’s toys as we can find! Until next time…… have fun #outdoors.
Jo & Richard
4 Points Leisure
The Glamping, Camping and Festival Accessories shop, with years of camping experience