Geocaching has been around for some time but has recently gained traction in central Ohio. Geocaching is a real-world, outdoor treasure hunting game using GPS-enabled devices. Participants navigate to a specific set of GPS coordinates and then attempt to find the geocache (container) hidden at that location. Coming from Colorado and having a love for the outdoors this seemed like the perfect activity for myself and three kids to explore. I love taking them on trails to play outside and in nature. Lots of learning happening and time to connect and talk about anything, sing songs, play games, and act silly. At the ages of 5, 6, and 8 they each enjoy carrying a notebook or journal to stop in a shady section and write or drawn about an observation. The idea of “treasure hunting” was more appealing than “just a hike”.
The Metro Parks have brought excitement to the geocaching world by launching a search throughout their parks that span the city. This is a fantastic way to explore this treasure among Columbus! More details of the Geo Trail 2017 can be found here: Geo Trail 2017. You are able to print out a paper log, complete, and submit for an official geo coin!
Our first park was Sharon Woods, chosen on the basis that we have never been, and there were two caches hidden in the park. Following the app and reading the clues to the whereabouts of the cache we headed out and parked in the parking lot that was near. I was hoping our first cache would not be too difficult or time-consuming to find to avoid frustration. This cache proved to be an excellent first! They were each ecstatic to uncover the camouflaged container and open the contents of small buttons with local plant picture, and small dollar store trinkets. There is a small notebook log to sign your name and date of your find. You are also welcome to leave trinkets for others to collect and pay it forward. I was unaware of this but on our next outing, we’ll be sure to bring a stash of small treasures.
The next cache, although in the same park, was too far for us to walk considering the heat and lack of shade so we drove to another parking lot and set on a new trail. This second cache was much more difficult to locate and even with the GPS on the app we had trouble. My older two were okay with this but 5 year old, not so much. We gave a few piggyback rides, tried to distract, discussed patience and perseverance and low and behold we were able to uncover the cache! This was a celebration and had another button and small trinkets that they enjoyed choosing to add to their collection. We stopped for a small snack of trail mix and water and ended with some playground play and swinging on really tall swings for quite some time.
If you are looking to get outdoors with your kids, but not venture too far off the beaten path, I highly recommend geocaching! Like I mentioned before, it does depend on the ages and temperaments of your kids on how tolerate they will be with hiking. Infants and toddlers may enjoy a ride in a backpack or carrier and some trails are even stroller friendly. Hit the trail early before peak sun and use an ice cream stop after as a fun incentive!
Bring a backpack with:
Water bottles (always pack extra)
A paper bag to collect treasures (natural and from the caches)
A few trinkets for the next geocacher to find
A notebook and pen
Phone for GPS or emergency