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Kids, Geocaching and Lava – A Parent’s Guide to Geocaching with Kids

I enjoyed a three-hour geocaching adventure with Quadmommy this week.  It did, however, involve a little molten lava.  I’ll explain.

Quadmommy wasn’t alone. As her name implies, Quadmommy has four kids. There’s more.  The mom from Washington State, USA, doesn’t just have four kids.  She has four boys.  And get this, all the boys are eight years old. They’re quadruplets. We can all learn from her.

Quadmommy is a very patient person, who’s like an attentive director for her boys.  She’ll say, “Go there.  Stop that.  Don’t jump in the water. Put THAT DOWN!”  She’s on high alert now. The boys are out of school for the summer.

Quadmommy's quads.

Imagine occupying four boys for the whole summer?  Quadmommy has a plan. She started geocaching with the kids in 2005.  She’s a professional at engaging her children. Geocaching is part of the family’s summer routine. The boys take turns holding the GPS. They race to be the first among them to find the cache. They’re outside and away from the TV.

Quadmommy enjoys geocaching to expose the kids to new adventures.  They family has geocached in multiple states.  She says, “It’s so much fun, we go all sort of places.”  They’ve even cached outside of the Grand Canyon.

But Quadmommy isn’t working alone to keep everyone entertained.  The kids bring something to the geocaching equation too.  They bring  LAVA.  Half the time that we were geocaching, we were also tossing a stuffed animal over an imaginary lake of lava.

Not imaginary lava.

Geocaching wasn’t just an exercise, in well, exercise. It’s also an exercise in imagination and creativity.

But I think this lava thing might be catching on among geocaching kids.  Probably just like where you live, there’s a geocache not far from my house.  I was walking my dog this morning.  I walked past a family geocaching.  The kids there were jumping rock to rock, avoiding the “lava.”  Then I remembered that I used to jump from couch to couch as a child to avoid the “lava.”

Maybe lava is a great gift idea for kids? Okay, let’s strike that idea.  Don’t buy lava for your kids.  Imaginary lava is the best way to go on this. Plus, it’s free.

Quadmommy’s quads brought more to geocaching than just lava.  They turned toys from caches into “Franken-toys” – combining pieces of one toy with another to create a new toy. We had a local TV crew along for the geocaching adventure, so you too can  watch some of the adventure with Quadmommy and the quads.

So, the next time that you’re geocaching with kids, don’t forget your GPS, pen or pencil and some swag- and definitely don’t forget your “lava.”

Tell us, how do you engage your kids while geocaching? What tricks and games can other geocaching parents learn from you?

“Ruins of St. Paul’s” GC20BD5 GEOCACHE OF THE WEEK – July 11th, 2010

Ruins of St. Paul's GC
Ruins of St. Paul's GC20BD5

The “Ruins of St. Paul’s” GC20BD5 was hidden in late 2009.  This nano cache was placed in a bustling tourist destination in Macau, China.  The church burned in 1835, leaving just this intricate facade. Geocacher AirQ from Hong Kong hid the cache.

AirQ is one of so many geocachers to travel thousands of miles this past week to gather in Washington State, USA. They celebrated GeoWoodstock VIII and Groundspeak’s Lost & Found Celebration, commemorating ten years of geocaching.  AirQ also celebrated a birthday.   Wish him a happy birthday by logging one of the dozens of caches AirQ placed in and around Hong Kong.  “Ruins of St. Paul’s” is just one.

Getting closer...

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The Founder of GeoWoodstock in His Own Words

Joe Armstrong, JoGPS, had an idea more than eight years ago.  The avid geocacher from Tennessee planned to gather the top ten geocachers in one location.  He thought, why not invite others?  And so, GeoWoodstock began.  Hear JoGPS tell the story in his own words.  JoGPS says it started as “all about the numbers” but continues as “all about the number “of new friends you make and smiles you share.

Watch for a Lost & Found video story from this year’s GeoWoodstock VIII  in Carnation, Washington, USA.  The story will debut on July 20th.

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The Reverse Geocaching Puzzle Box – Geocaching.com’s Lost & Found Video

Inventor Mikal Hart shifts geocaching in reverse.  Hart’s “Reverse Geocaching Puzzle Box” is a locked box that needs you to deliver it to a secret location.  The box won’t unlock until you take it to this pre-programmed destination.

The GPS-enabled box presents users with a deceivingly simple button and a small display.  You press the button and the display reads a distance. Players only have 50 chances to move the box to the correct location before the box locks forever.

There are many more geocaching adventures. Take a look at all the Lost & Found videos here.

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A Journey of 1001 Days of Geocaching

Editor’s Note: Kiet and Jill Callies (kietc) along with their daughter visited Groundspeak HQ on June 18th, 2010.  It was their 1001st straight day of geocaching. The journey began on September 22, 2007 and ended that day at HQ. Kiet authored this guest blog. This is his story.  These are his words.  Here’s what you can learn from a team that completed a geocaching streak of 1001 days.

Kiet and Jill Callies with daughter McKenzie. Geocaching username "keitc"

When we started our streak on September 22, 2007, it was a reboot of a previous 41-day streak, broken by work commitments, which just whetted our whistles for the big one. No other commitments would interrupt our next streak until June 18, 2010 – a thousand and one days later. In that time, if stringing our finds together like a necklace of pearls, we traveled nearly 60,000 miles and made finds in 15 states.

The original streak probably began as a pacesetter for reaching a milestone by the year’s end. The big streak was to prove we could go all the way. We started setting the goal of 100 days, then a year and, if a year, why not a thousand days. Then, again, why not be literary, like A Thousand and One Arabian Nights, A Thousand and One Geocaching Days.

I almost carried the whole load alone. However, this was never meant to be a loner’s endeavor. My wife and daughter stepped in my place a couple of times. Once, during one of life’s frustrating moments of defeatism when I decided to give up on everything and pick a fight with the world, my wife, unable to witness the regret I would face in the after-moment, took my daughter and made a find to keep the streak alive.

The next generation of geocacher, McKenzie Callies.

Now, to maintain such a streak, the quality of some caches suffers. Though we have seen and discovered some amazing things in the course of our adventures, both obvious and hidden, we often had to settle for some mundane finds – a film canister tucked under a lamp post cover or inside a guard rail, which can be demotivating when these are the majority of your finds. Then I stumbled upon the Danboard and Stormtroopers 365 photo projects and was inspired.

One of the things we enjoy about geocaching is the context of location. There is a reason why someone chose a particular location and decided to share it with others. Now you can argue whether the location is worth sharing, but you cannot deny that it now has context, a story. I decided to lay another narrative on top, and my medium was Legos and Star Wars.

Legos are small and portable, perfect for travel, and like in Star Wars, we as geocachers use technology to get us close to the truth, the cache, and then use the mystical, or our geo-senses, to actually find it. Over-thinking it? Probably. I grew up under the strong influence of the original trilogy, and besides that, Star Wars is just so cool. On Day 779, I introduced the Star Wars Lego storyline and have managed a few chuckles here and there.

Click the picture to view Kiet Callies Flickr page

Now that the streak is over, and I have had time to digest it all, I will tell you that I did experience withdrawal and guilt the next day, June 19th. What’s next? In celebration of geocaching’s 10-year anniversary, to find a cache placed in each month of geocaching’s existence. Isn’t setting goals fun?