A Powerful Father and Son Connection through Geocaching

Tony and his son’s adventures take them to find Ko Tapu James Bond Island (GC2179V) in Thailand.

Meet Tony Linberg (Username: galdrin): IT guy, geocacher, and proud father. Meet Tony’s son: 13-year-old treasure hunter, adventurer, and explorer. They’re your everyday father-son geocaching duo. But dig a little deeper and like most geocachers you’ll uncover something remarkable about their relationship and why they geocache.

In 2006, Tony’s three-year-old son was diagnosed with severe autism, meaning that he is unable to use spoken language. He also suffers from asthma, light epilepsy, and hyperactivity. This diagnosis would change the Linberg family’s life. They moved away from their friends and family in the city to a quiet house in the countryside, an environment more suitable to their son’s needs. A year after the move, the Linberg’s daughter came into the world. She was also diagnosed with autism.

Then, in 2008, Tony happened across an article about geocaching.  After discovering that his son enjoyed being driven in a car, Tony had started the routine of taking long car rides with his son. They would just drive and drive for hours at a time. Tony says, “The article gave me an idea to create a goal for our next evening in the car so that the trip would have some meaning for me also and not just for my son. And this is where our life takes a new direction for me, my son, and in the end all our family. If the [autism diagnosis] started a downward spiral then the discovery of geocaching started an upward spiral that just keeps on going.”

On that first geocaching experience, Tony and his son both fell in love with geocaching – but in very different ways. Tony loved the way that finding the treasure at the end of the trail made him feel: excitement building, pulse racing, confidence growing. Tony says his son fell in love not with the find itself, but rather with the adventure of getting there: “My son has never cared about the box at the end of the trail, he only cares about the trail and what he got the day we found geocaching is the activity needed to feel good.”

Geocaching has not only changed Tony and his son’s life, but also the way in which the entire family lives, loves, and exists.  Through geocaching, Tony says, “I get small glimpses of the boy behind the handicap, small moments when his hyperactivity lets go of him and he can sit down and enjoy the situation, and short moments when he grabs my arm and laughs when we have successfully logged a geocache and are walking back to the car. He almost never laughs normally, but when we are geocaching I am blessed with the sound of his laugh… Geocaching is a water balloon full of  goodness that hit me, but it splashed everyone in our family.”

Tony's son 2.5
Tony’s son finds a geocache in their early years of geocaching.

Tony and his son are now going on 1400  finds and currently own two geocache hides. Their geocaching adventures inspired a new level of physical activity for both Tony and his son. Tony’s son started sleeping more than four hours a night and improved his balance. Perhaps most importantly, geocaching showed the Linbergs that their children’s autism diagnoses were not the final chapter. At first, the Linbergs thought that autism spectrum disorder meant that their family would never get to explore the world together. Because of his disorder, Tony’s son cannot be left alone for even short periods of time. But through geocaching, they learned that they can still lead lives full of exploration and adventure and – like all parents hope to do – they can challenge their children to try new things and discover interesting places. Tony has started calling his son his “shadow cacher” because they get to have adventures together all the time.

Today, Tony’s son is beginning to learn to communicate using an iPad. For the most part, the language is very basic (e.g. “I’m hungry” or “I need to go to the toilet”). However, there is one phrase that Tony says his son uses more than any others: “I want to go geocaching.”

For Tony and his son, geocaching is not about the numbers. 1400 finds means 1400 adventures, 1400 memories, and 1400 reasons why any parent and child – of any ability – can find a common bond through geocaching.

You can follow shadowcacher’s adventures on Tony’s blog. If you have a story you would like to be considered for the next installment of “Geocachers Care,” please email pr@geocaching.com.

Paige Edmiston
Paige (ThePaigeTurner) is a Marketing Specialist at Geocaching HQ. She likes books.
  • turtlegirl96761

    A touching story!

  • Xina


  • 0;)Angel

    This is the only exercise my autistic son gets. If it wasn’t for geocaching he would just sit in front of his computer all day and get bigger do to the meds that slow down his metabolism.

  • Cissy

    Stole my heart! What a beautiful story!

  • Pattyinatlanta

    It is amazing how geocaching can actually make a real difference in people’s lives. Congratulations for taking a chance Tony and making a difference in you and your family’s lives. God bless you!

  • lydz

    Very touching, think the maths is wrong in there tho. In 2013 Tony’s son is 13, he was diagnosed with Autism at age 3, which was in 2006?

  • Tony Lindberg

    You are right lydz. I got the numbers wrong. We started the diagnose when he was 3 years, late 2003 and obtained the final diagnose early 2005. My misstake not doublechecking the numbers.

  • PeGC56

    LOVE this story! I have a son with Down Syndrome who is my constant geo-buddy! Our story was written on a geocaching blog also (can’t remember if it was this one or not 🙂 My son Brian and I just discovered geocaching last September (2012) and he has become addicted! Not wanting to miss a day without at least 1 find. We have taken many road trips for the sole purpose of geocaching and in less than a year have over 600 finds under our belts. I am also a Special Ed teacher and have in depth knowledge and experience with children with autism and have an appreciation for all you have done to make wonderful memories with your child(ren)! PeGC56 (and my son CoolGuy84)

  • blackdogsMT

    What a wonderful story! Thank you Tony for sharing it with the geocaching community. I have tears rolling down my cheeks but a smile on my face. Keep it up, you’re a great DAD!

  • Here’s your story Peg: http://blog.geocaching.com/2013/03/a-mother-and-son-geocaching-bond/ Thanks so much again for sharing and giving so much back to the community.

  • bluebirdinn

    Geo caching is also great for those who have ADHD. They have to use there mind to figure where would it be hidden and how to use geo sense. There mind is always working and they love the discovery. Thanks for sharing!

  • Crashbangboom + Co

    This brought tears to my eyes! My 11 year old son struggles with ADHD and my 7 year old with anxiety. We go geocaching together whenever we get the chance. It’s one of the few
    mobile activities that we all enjoy.

  • zargfinders

    This is a beautiful story – thanks for sharing. It really makes me think how you can work past great difficulties if you try really hard – and if geocaching is the solution, even better.

  • LEM in TX

    Thanks for sharing your story–I love how geocaching opens up a world of adventure and can truly make a difference, on so many levels, in the lives of so many. Enjoy your adventures!

  • libgib

    Thanks for sharing your story Tony, what an inspirational family!