For tweens, the world suddenly opens up on many levels: They can take the bus to their friend’s house by themselves. A group of them can see a movie together without grownups in the next row. They start to discover interests and hobbies through their friends, and not because their parents tell them it’s for their own good. For those who may not know, “tweens” are young men and women between the ages of 10-12 years old. They are in-between being a kid and being a teenager.
So what do you do with a tween who won’t ever put down their smartphone besides take it away from them? How about an activity that gets everyone outside, interacting with the world, and includes a smartphone? Yep, you guessed it: geocaching.
My daughter Maxine, her friends Rebecca and Oscar are all in 7th grade. A few weeks ago on a typical Seattle day – overcast, with intermittent drizzle and sun breaks – we went geocaching. We brought our trusty dog Clover along for the ride.
We started our journey in West Seattle when we found a clever geocache on tree-lined street in an adorable neighborhood. Then we went to a hillside park with an amazing view of the Seattle skyline. That one was tricky and we spent a lot of time looking for it with our dog sniffing everywhere. But finally there was that “A-ha!” moment, and we found it!
Then we decided to hit some of the best caches in Seattle: The HQ GeoTour. We all know how physically challenging Geocaching can be, and certainly I didn’t want these kids to wilt on me, so we hit the Geocaching HQ kitchen first (working at Geocaching HQ certainly has its perks). Their bottomless metabolisms tore through chips, soda, Cup Noodles, candy, more chips, more Cup Noodles and more candy. [Special shout-out to HQ-er Maria for keeping us all carb-ed up and ready to roll.]
Once we logged the Geocaching Headquarters geocache, we hit the streets hitting all that top spots in Fremont: Within Reach, Chairy Tree, A Bedazzling View, De Libertas Quirkas, Fremont Library, Toll Droppings, Ode to the Golgafrinchan Phone Workers, Beneath Aurora, and finally Geo Post Office.
We all had a great time spending time together, but we were hanging out with a purpose. We all learned something, too:
- Maxine learned she was actually instinctually skilled at geocaching.
- Oscar learned that he really wanted to work at Geocaching so he could eat Cup Noodles anytime he wanted.
- Rebecca learned that she actually could be the first to find a geocache if it was a under a really big rock and everyone stayed let her find it.
- I learned (from Oscar) how to solve for coordinates on a Multi-Cache and add waypoints to my app.
It was a good day. No, it was a wonderful day.
What advice do you have for geocaching with your kids, tweens, or teens? Tell us in the comments below!