Parent Insider Tips: Getting Your Kids Outside with Geocaching

Muddy Boots and Geocaching
Muddy Boots, Kiddos and Geocaching

By Dani Navarre

As a parent, you learn to appreciate the little victories in life, whether that means celebrating a win after a soccer game or reveling in the triumph of getting your child to eat all their vegetables. However, nothing quite beats the satisfaction of watching your child grin from ear to ear as they win their own small victory by exploring and discovering the world around them through geocaching. With over 2.4 million geocaches waiting to be discovered worldwide, every location can be turned into an adventure and each family outing a victory.

Recently I sat down with real-life Geocaching dad Monte Michaelis to discuss his experiences geocaching with his children:

How do you explain to kids what Geocaching is?

“I tell kids that Geocaching is like a treasure hunt that’s happening all over the world, all the time, even in their own neighborhood. I have them imagine playing a videogame where they are the main character, only the game isn’t played on a screen. It’s real life, in real places, and there’s no telling what they might find.”

How do you keep kids motivated to start or stay Geocaching?

“I think the secret is to make Geocaching a family activity. The kids should feel involved in choosing the geocaches you look for, ones that cater to their interests. I would also encourage parents to use Geocaching as a reason to try things for the first time.”

Why should parents Geocache with their children?

“I’m the father of two daughters, and I want to spend time with them. I want to talk to them about what’s going on in their lives. I want to share experiences and have adventures. Geocaching is the perfect way to do these things, because the whole point of it is to be in the places you love with the people you love.”

Kid Swag

So are you ready to hit the trails? If you want to know what kind of geocache you should look for on your first kid-expedition, you came to the right place! Make your child’s first adventure a success by choosing geocaches that are age-appropriate. Geocaches are ranked by difficulty and terrain, so start easy by choosing ones with one or two stars. Try to select geocaches with multiple favorite points, as they sometimes prove to be the most intriguing. Before heading out, do a little research by checking the Recent Activity log of the geocache to see if it has been found in the past few weeks. Bonus points for combining a day of geocaching with other family activities, like a walk to the local library, a trip to the zoo, a short day hike, or even a stroll around the neighborhood.

Getting in Touch with Nature
Getting in Touch with Nature

Here are some insider tips from Monte and other geocaching parents to make your first time geocaching with your little tyke a success:

  1. Let the kids be your guide. Children are eager to participate, so let them take the lead through navigating or looking under each rock and bush for an elusive geocache.

  2. Be enthusiastic. Enthusiasm is contagious. If you are genuinely excited about geocaching, your kids will be, too. So start practicing your happy dance and be ready to break out those moves when you find one!

  3. Become a pirate. Choose regular to large-sized geocaches that will provide fun toys and trinkets that your kids can trade for. Remember to trade up or equal, so have your little ones bring along some knickknacks to leave behind.

  4. Make memories to last a lifetime. Bring a camera to capture all those memorable moments.

  5. Bring snacks. They can mean the difference between a fun day at the park and a before-dinner meltdown.

No matter where you go or what you find, geocaching can make every family adventure into your own little victory.

Sweet Geocaching Victory!



Diary of a Wimpy Kid Trackables on the Move!


They’re on the move! The Diary of a Wimpy Kid Trackables are making their way into the hands of geocachers across North America. As the colorful Heffley Family themed tags move from geocache to geocache, you can keep an eye out for them and help the Heffleys find their lost luggage!

Greg, Rodrick, Manny, Mom, and Dad have hit the road, but they’ve lost a few things along the way. Can you help them find what they’re missing?

The Heffleys need your help finding 6,000 Wimpy Kid trackables hidden across North America. Each trackable features an item the Heffleys have lost. When you find a Wimpy Kid trackable, use the code to log it and then keep it moving by putting it in another geocache. Make sure you log it to see how far your trackable goes! When you place it in a geocache, others will have a chance to help the Heffleys, too!

wimpy kid little

When you find and move (or discover) a Diary of a Wimpy Kid Trackable, you’ll get a cool trackable icon to add to your list of trackables:

 wimpy kid icon


What adventures will the Heffleys get into on the road? Find out when Greg Heffley and his family hit the road in author-illustrator Jeff Kinney’s latest installment in the phenomenally bestselling Diary of a Wimpy Kid series. Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul arrives in stores on November 4, 2014, and is available for preorder.


Want to make sure you’re the first to know about Wimpy Kid news, games, events, sweepstakes, and more? Sign up for the Wimpy Kid newsletter.

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It’s Always Sunny in Geocaching HQ


There’s some serious Geocaching going on in this family.

Brothers Sterling and Ethan are avid geocachers, and it seems to run in the family. Their mother, Candice, wanted to teach a Geocaching unit to the 120 students in her school’s gifted children program. At the time, though, there simply weren’t enough caches within walking distance of the school.

It’s always sunny at Geocaching HQ.
Sterling and Ethan are pictured in the middle, with dad David in the center back, and mom Candice on the far left.

Like a true geocacher, Sterling came to the rescue.

Once he had 100 finds, Sterling hid four geocaches that his mother could take her students to. The class was undoubtedly a success. Within several months, many of the students had over 100 finds (and their parents were getting in on it too). Sterling and his younger brother Ethan maintain their caches carefully, and Sterling himself now has over 200 finds, with 250 in sight.

We were so excited that Sterling, Ethan, Candice, and David decided to spend the day at Geocaching HQ…especially since it was Sterling’s 10th birthday. Happy birthday Sterling, and best of luck to everyone!





5 Tricks of the Trade for Geocaching with Kids


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Geocaching HQ’ers Annie Love (front left)  AKprincesswarrior (center) lead Pathways middle school students on their first ever geocaching adventure – and they loved it!

Geocaching: Middle Schooler Tested and Approved

By:  Maria McDonald.

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A new generation discovers the GPS device.

As a Geocaching HQ staffer often tethered to the office, I love it when the opportunity to be out in the community presents itself. Such an opportunity presented itself last week when a teacher (Username: Cache-alope) from a local after school science program (Pathways) asked me and Partner Programs Manager Annie Love (Love) to present geocaching to her middle school students. My immediate reaction: Middle schoolers?!? Oh no…anything but the awkward tween years. Luckily, my love of all things geocaching overcame these initial thoughts, and the opportunity to share my passion for geocaching with the next generation removed any lingering doubt.

While preparing our presentation, I got to thinking about children’s involvement with geocaching more generally. While one of the most fascinating elements of geocaching is its ability to be many different things to many types of people, children have a particular place in this game we cherish. First and foremost, kids love toys. If nothing else, geocache SWAG gives youngsters the opportunity to find fun toys. This often keeps them interested in a ‘treasure hunt’ before the more nuanced elements of the game can hold their attention. Another element that particularly appeals to children (or rather to their adults chaperons) is the idea of giving their walk a purpose. Have you ever tried talking a child into going for a walk with you? Nearly impossible! They’re bored and whining before you hit a quarter mile. Tell a child you’re going geocaching and you can get her to cheerfully – and unknowingly – go for a long walk. Lastly, I thought about the importance of finding activities the entire family can enjoy. Geocaching has wide appeal in this aspect as babies in strollers, grandparents in walkers, and every age and stage in between can find something about geocaching they enjoy with geocaches they are able to access. It truly is an adventure for the whole family.

So how do you get your youngsters into geocaching? Here are 5 easy Tricks of the Trade (TOTT…but different this time around).

1. Bring Snacks. Simple but true, you can bribe – I mean convince – a child to do just about anything with the right snack as incentive.

2. Be enthusiastic. Kids know fun when they see it. If you see geocaching as something fun, adventurous, and exciting, that enthusiasm is going to shine out your face like rainbows and they will want to be part of the action.

3. Plan geocaching outings that you know will provide SWAG. This part is easy, as mentioned earlier children love stuff. Geocaches have stuff in them. Plan on searching for geocaches with young ones that you know will provide them with cool stuff. Worried the geocache may not have the goods needed to keep your child’s attention? You’re an adult – use your super sneaky adult powers to have extra SWAG of your own on hand to suddenly make SWAG ‘appear’ as if from the geocache itself. Sort of like planting evidence but much more legal. After the planted SWAG is discovered enthusiastically, mention the next geocache with cool stuff is just around the corner…

4. Find caches that match the child’s skill set and ability. At every age of child development there are markers and goals for what children are capable of learning. Find a way to incorporate the learning goals for their age range into the caching experience. Think broadly about what this could entail, are they working on balance? Climbing? Counting? Over/under/up/down differentiating? Find the skills they seem naturally drawn to learning in their age range and work them into the adventure.

5. Make them part of the team. Children of any age, much like all other ages of humans beings, want to be included. When children are able to participate and contribute to something they see others doing with enthusiasm they will want to play a role themselves.

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Hunting in the rain for the geocache… and SWAG.

So how did the presentation with the dreaded middle schoolers go? Amazing. This was the greatest group of youngsters you could ever hope to geocache with. They were riveted by the geocaching presentation and remained two steps ahead of us with every engaging question. When it came time to leave the classroom and enter into the woods on this particularly rainy day, the kids charged ahead brimming with enthusiasm. The students worked together in pairs, one using a compass and the other piloting a GPS heading towards a staged geocache their teacher had placed specifically for them. They worked their way quickly towards the find and made up usernames on the spot when signing the staged logbook. How “XXthekillertacoXX” came so quickly to one young lady’s mind I’ll never know, but a greater username I challenge you to encounter. The adventure came to a close upon returning to their classroom where the students excitedly talked about how they could share this fun new activity with their families. This afternoon in the woods with youngsters reminded me that Geocaching really can be fun for all ages, even tweens when presented correctly.

Editor’s Note: Maria McDonald wears many hats at Geocaching HQ. She is both our Office Manager and Education Specialist, having worked years in public school systems.