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Teamwork and Follow Through
When you geocache with kids they learn about teamwork. When you’re closing in on a cache you’ll almost be like a search and rescue squad coordinating your efforts. Spark their interest in this hobby by reading Geocaching Files: Amazing Search and Rescue Stories and relaying those exciting tales when you’re out pirating around. Build on each other’s skills and be quick to point out there strong suits. Walk the fine line of keeping it fun and not exasperating their short attention spans. No matter how enthusiastic I get about long hikes, my niece threatens to remove my “most favorite uncle” status on the longer journeys; therefore we of course do the shorter ones. And I’m very careful not to bring up the topic of snakes with my nephew on outdoor adventures.
What’s important about these fun expeditions is they get the sense of how important it is to follow through from determining which site to seek online all the way to exchanging the prize and signing the logbook once they’ve discovered it in the woods, at that historical site, or having had deciphered the location of virtual caches. That skill of sticking with it one phase at a time will transfer nicely to so much of what they do successfully in life. All the while emphasizing life is a journey and not a destination.
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Leadership, True North, and Take Out the Trash
After they’ve bagged a few geocaches put them in charge and designate one as the cache commander and let them find the cache. Have them plan and execute from start to finish all the phases we’ve discussed in this series. Graduate to more tricky geocaches, micro-caches, and brain teasers. Have them create caches for others to find that are challenging. Read about that in Making a Geocache Puzzle. That will foster their imaginations and creative abilities.
Along with the navigational skills they pick up using the GPS teach them how to use the compass whether you have a GPS device that has one built in or an old-fashioned one. Find North with GPS or an Electronic Compass? will clue you in on the subject and also provides the best GPS models that come with a built in compass. Show them how they can use the sun to orient themselves as well. Should your electronic devices fail you ought to know the fundamentals of how to navigate without them, even using the stars to do so.
I may have forgotten to mention the importance of treating the places you geocache in with utmost respect. That is in keeping with the conservation themes we pointed out in the second article of this series. Geocachers abide by a rule called “cache-in, trash out” which means you leave nothing behind and don’t disturb anything in that fragile ecosystem where you’re a guest in. Much like the backpacker’s credo of “pack it in, pack it out”. Whether you’re on the beach, in the mountains, or sweltering in the desert those policies apply. Have fun and may you find many boons and treasures, of both the tangible and abstract variety, while you’re out there bonding with the kids in your life.
Adventurous Learning: Geocache with the Kids
Geocacaching is a modern day scavenger hunt combining the knowledge and skills required to carefully plan an expedition starting from home navigating the internet and then using a GPS device to find a hidden treasure in the outdoors. This series shows why it's a great idea for kids on many levels.