How to get a child moving? Geocaching

>>  Friday, May 18, 2012

On of my recent Guiding trainings was about Geocaching.  I have decided that this is a suitable activity for my Rangers.  Mainly as they all permanently have a smart phone attached to their hands already but I'll explain that later.

Whilst training I had hunted down a few laid out especially for us but I decided to give it a proper go 'in the wild' for practise.  I explained it all to COG the night before but woke up to a horrid rainy day.  This kind of weather requires a bit of extra cleverness to get a teenager moving..... I made her start her exam revision, left her until she was really fed up and then suggested Geocaching. 

Finding a geocache, even in the rain, is a much better option than revision for COG!

A Geocache is a small box of varying sizes that is hidden.  The box contains a log book and a little something.  When you find it, you can take the little something and replace it with something else.

I know, I know, it all sounds a bit stupid but it actually gives a walk across a muddy field a purpose other than 'the fresh air will be good for you', 'you can't watch TV all day' and 'if we don't get the kids out for a while, I'll go mental' and the idea of being able to swap a plastic dinosaur for a banana keyring is just the icing on the cake.

I was amazed how many there are close to me.  There are at least 5 on my 'usual walk'. 

You can find where the caches are on, it gives you co-ordinates and you basically walk until you are there.  Then you find it, so far still sooooo boring....nope, this is where the fun starts:

Firstly, no one else is allowed to see you looking for it, it's all very hush hush and you can't let other 'normal' people know what you are looking for.  So you have to do a lot of pretending to be tying up laces and texting.  This makes it fun for kids, it adds a spark of magic to it.

Secondly, the damned things are very well hidden.  The challenge isn't getting to the right spot, it's not even just 'not being spotted', it's actually finding it hidden under a log or magnetically attached to the underside of a seat. 

COG found the one we were looking for, I was rubbish.  We left a little toy cow behind.  She got such a sense of achievement and discussed geocaching all the way back.  Remember she is a teenager, the usual mode of conversation is a level of grunts that involved the words "Jack Wills" and "Converse".

So where does the smart phone come into it?  GPS - simples.  You need a GPS device to follow the co-ordinates.  If you are in Guiding, you can hire them from your local equipment store.  Mine does them for £1 a day.  But I just downloaded an app to my phone and hey presto.  Because I'm a firm believer in you get what you pay for, I downloaded the 'official' app for £6.99.  But it looks like there are a number of free ones out there.  I'm going to give them a try until I find one my Rangers can download and 'Bob's your mother's brother' we have an evenings hike walk "no, I didn't say hike girls, that was a mistake, honestly, it's not far" planned with a challenge included.

But what all Guiders know: Rangers enjoy mostly the same things as Rainbows they just need less supervision (mostly but not necessarily). So if you've got young children I seriously recommend this as a way to get out and about this summer and con your kids into some exercise without them even realising it and you have finally found something useful for those piles of cracker toys you've had lying around since Christmas.


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