Geocaching for Kids – Fun for the Whole Family

Geocaching is an exciting treasure hunt game that families around the world are playing. It requires a GPS device and a love of adventure. The basic steps to the game are that you visit a site like, enter your zip code and receive a list of hidden caches in your area. Then, you set out with your family, following coordinates that bring you within a 20 ft. radius of the cache. The cache might be located in the middle of a city, but the majority are in rural areas, forest preserves, and beautiful parks.

Once you reach the destination, everyone begins searching for the hidden geocache. It might be in a tree, under a rock, inside a hollow log. The cache itself may be as tiny as a film canister or as big as a cooler and, when found, may contain a simple log book for you to sign your name in or a store of little treasures.

The rule is – if you take something from the cache, you must leave something in return for the next seeker to find. Good geocachers make every effort to leave the cache site as undisturbed as they found it so that others can enjoy the hunt for the cache.

Geocaching has been around almost since the advent of GPS devices, and has gained in popularity every year. Some families go geocaching every chance they get and have found hundreds of caches over the years. Some even go on geocaching vacations, hunting for caches located at historic monuments all over the world. Your family may take such a shine to this game that you will eventually decide to create a cache of your own for others to find.

How hard is Geocaching?

Most caches will be accompanied by a difficulty rating between 1-5 with 1 representing the easiest caches. This is important data when planning with kids in mind. Pay attention to the rating of the terrain. The hardest caches may be hidden in locations that require miles of hiking over tough terrain. Some can only be reached by rock climbing or even scuba diving! Level 1 and 2 caches will probably be most appropriate for families with young children who aren’t prepared to take rigorous hikes in challenging landscapes.

What should you bring on a Geocaching adventure?

  • Bottled water
  • A simple snack like trail mix
  • A first aid kit
  • A pen to sign the logbook
  • If you plan to take a treasure, be sure to bring one along to trade

Geocache treasures include coins, buttons, badges, small toys or inexpensive jewelry. Some caches might contain books, DVDs or CDs. There is an additional type of cache treasure called a ‘trackable item’. These are devices that get moved from cache to cache as people hunt. Some have made international trips and there is apparently a Mister Potato Head that has traveled around the world!

5 benefits of family Geocaching

1) This is an ideal family activity. If you’ve become concerned that you family’s main group activity revolves around watching TV, consider giving geocaching a try. Everyone will have a chance to actively participate in a fun family goal while talking, laughing and playing together.

2) Geocaching provides terrific exercise for the whole family. Even kids with couch potato tendencies can get caught up in the excitement and without even noticing it, will be filling their lungs with fresh air while hiking in search of a cache. Simple searches undertaken at a leisurely pace will benefit your family with good exercise and plenty of sunshine. Bring a picnic and make a day of the game. How about bringing along a camera to record your adventure, or a wildflower or bird guide to increase what your family learns as they walk along?

3) One of the most commonly cited benefits of geocaching is that it introduces families to lovely natural spots they never knew existed before. Devoted geocachers feel that they have acquired valuable intimate knowledge about the places in which they live.

4) Gaining appreciation for state and national parks gives children a good reason to become good stewards of public lands. Because there is a strong emphasis on leaving terrain in good shape for other players, geocaching has the potential to teach children that our wild places need to be protected and cared for so that everyone can enjoy them.

5) Geocaching is about achievement. It teaches children that families can set and achieve goals and have fun in the process. It provides a good opportunity for exploring the powers of dedication and teamwork, and because it comes with the built-in control of the cache, everyone knows when they have succeeded.

Getting started

GPS devices run between about $100-$1000. has recommendations for good devices. Once you have your GPS, all you have to do is register at the site to get a list of local caches in your area. Pick a destination and get going!

I enjoyed this story about a father who got his overweight son to start hiking because of geocaching. It seems that children are sometimes the very best at discovering the hidden caches, and I believe that Montessori and homeschool families will quickly see the value in an activity that gets everyone out of doors for a joint-effort exploration of our amazing planet.