Recently we have been trying Geocaching. My wife was invited to go with a friend who had all the kit and knew what they were doing earlier in the year. They went off and had a lovely time, found the cache and all had a nice walk in the country to boot.
You’ll have guessed that it hasn’t been so idealistic on our own attempts though.
Geocaching is something that I’d never heard of until Jo came home to tell me what they had done; it is a web based treasure hunt basically. Users have set up stashes of stuff all over the country (and the world) and then you are given longitude and latitude coordinates in order to help you find them. Most people then have a hand held GPS device into which you pump the coordinates. The device then simply gives you a compass like arrow that points to the coordinates. People then trudge through the countryside following the arrow until they hit the spot. Some searching through the bushes and then hopefully you find the cache. This can be a purpose built box, and old Tupperware box or a film canister or anything.
In some will be some treasure that you can keep, in others simply a log for you to write a message into and read other peoples logs too. Some boxes have travel bugs in them; a little thing with a code on it. You pump the code into the website to say where you have found it and then you put it into a box somewhere else. This means that the items travel is documented on the website and people can track its journey. Some people specifically hunt out and chase the bugs.
I have to say I’m still to be fully convinced about it all. I struggle to get very excited about it and when I was told about it I didn’t think it was for me at all. The idea though is sound. A family has an ideal excuse to get out in the fresh air and go for a walk, the treasure hunt aspect adding a bit of excitement to help get the kids to join in and not notice that they are being healthy. At least that’s the idea.
Of course, whilst we are trialling the idea I’ve been using my car satnav instead of forking out for a proper walking GPS. As I have proven, it works just fine and the cache is marked just as successfully. However, being an expensive bit of kit not designed for carrying about and with a touch sensitive screen, there is no way on Earth I’m letting my two little ninjas hold it.
The upshot of not letting the boys get involved with the hunt side of the operation is that they couldn’t care les about it. They know full well that they are actually on a walk and instantly start moaning and fighting the moment the car is out of sight. And so Jo and I try desperately to get them excited about it all with discussions and pointing out the lovely plants etc. but they just look at us like we are insane.
The first solo hunt we went on went unfound and two disgruntled boys who’d been made to walk about some fields for an hour whilst their father confidently walked round in circles trying to work out why his satnav isn’t telling him which path to follow, went home without any treasure. The next time we did find it in the end but only after I’d had to go back and fetch the car so that the satnav could be recharged; the battery had gone dead after a monumental cock-up on the planning stage.
All in all I’m still not certain that it’s for me but I think that when the boys can direct the chase with a GPS they can hold it will be better. I’ll keep you posted on that though because I reckon I’ll only be buying one GPS and I have two boys that think sharing is illegal, it’s going to get violent I can tell.