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Geocaching: High-Tech Hide &Seek

Looking for new and exciting ways to spend family time? How about a high-tech treasure hunt around town? It’s called geocaching (pronounced jee-oh-cashing), and it’s the fun, new way families are getting out of the house to spend time together.

Geocaching works like this: People leave small, cheap treasures (caches) in a container, log the longitude and latitude of the container online (www.Geocaching.com), and encourage others to find the treasure. Anyone with a GPS device can then try to locate the cache. Once a cache is found, the finder signs and dates the log inside, replaces the treasure with their own, and hides the cache back in the location they found it. Once home, they log their finds online; some people even include photos.

Raytown mom Stacy Wagstaff says she first learned of geocaching at one of her son’s Cub Scout meetings.

“I thought it sounded like a great thing I could do with my boys, a way to get them away from the ever-present video games,” she says. “Geocaching takes you to places you never knew were there before. I’ve been to many parks, monuments, cemeteries and historical sites I never knew existed.”

Wagstaff says that the caches (which can vary in size) are often found in such places as tree stumps, tree holes or under rocks.

“Look for something that doesn’t seem to belong. I’ve seen containers as small as a pencil eraser to one in a five-gallon bucket!” she says. “If it’s big enough for swag (trinkets and goodies), you can trade. Always bring swag with you if you’re planning on trading; this is how the caches stay stocked with goodies.”

Kansas City mom Shannon Griffeth, who recently geocached with her son and his Cub Scout pack, says it was not only fun, but a great learning experience for everyone. Her son, Taylor, agrees.

  “It was really cool. We got to learn about things, got to see a rabbit and, at the end, we got one-dollar coins!” he says.
Both moms agree that geocaching is a great activity for families, individuals and couples alike!

“Geocaching can be a great date activity. For my birthday, my husband and I go caching together without the kids. It’s a free activity and gives us some exercise as well as outdoor time,” Wagstaff says.

“Geocaching is many things in one: an afternoon hike in the woods, lessons in geography, teamwork and even survival skills. Plus, being able to find something with very few clues to do so,” Griffeth says. “It’s a rewarding experience!”

Want to learn more about geocaching? Take a class! Many places offer geocaching classes for beginners around the greater Kansas City area, such as the Overland Park Arboretum and Botanical Gardens, Powell Gardens, through community education classes and local parks & recreation departments. Classes are offered at various times throughout the year, so check websites for details on dates and times classes may be offered.

Kansas City mom Gina Klein is a writer and photographer who loves geocaching around town with her husband and two daughters.

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