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Geocaching: a fun, family pandemic pastime

By The Health News Team and Jen Spengler | January 15, 2021
Finding the right position in the forest via GPS

Jennifer Spengler, a health and wellness writer for Sharp Health News and a marketing specialist with Sharp HealthCare.

My husband is the fun parent. I know it. He knows it. Our kids won't say it, but I know they think it.
And it's true. He's the one that will take them to the midnight viewing of a new superhero movie, play video games for hours, or take a carload of kids to a fun zone or skate park (pre-pandemic that is).
He's also the one that introduced our youngest, now 12, to geocaching. What to me was primarily an excellent way to have the house to myself for an hour or two while they soaked up a little vitamin D and got some exercise, geocaching has come to mean far more.
We've geocached as a family in at least five countries, across more than a few college campuses to keep one child occupied while another nervously considered their future, and learned about vacation spots in a fun and unusual way. And like many families around the world, geocaching has become a fun – and safe – pandemic preoccupation.

What is geocaching?

Geocaching is an outdoor treasure hunt where people – both young and old – use GPS to find hidden items in locations across the globe. The hiding spots are marked by coordinates and noted in apps that can be accessed by smartphones or other digital devices.
These treasures, known as geocaches, are usually secured in small, waterproof containers with a paper log and small pencil so that each successful treasure hunter can record their success in finding the cache. Some even take a digital photo as proof of their superior prospecting and upload it to the app for others to see.
According to, your geocaching adventure can be achieved in four simple steps:

  1. Create an account through one of the geocaching apps to view a map of geocaches near you.

  2. Use the app to navigate to a geocache nearby.

  3. Find the geocache and sign and date the logbook. (You might want to bring a pen or pencil along in case one isn't included in the container.)

  4. Put the geocache back where you found it and log your experience online.

While most geocaches require the finder to return it to its original spot before moving onto the next search, others offer participants a small token, toy or trinket to be traded for another in its place – think toy soldiers, small key chains, marbles and decorative pins. You are also encouraged to tuck away some of your own treasures and log their locations into the app.
Why so many have gone gaga for geocaching
Geocachers claim the adventurous game offers several benefits beyond the hunt. While allowing you to enjoy the great outdoors together and helping to sharpen your navigation skills, geocaching also allows families to:

  • Experience new places like locals

  • Get fit while having fun

  • Be entertained, no matter your age

  • Discover hidden spots in your own hometown

  • Serve as a way to digitally document your travels

  • Connect you to people you might never meet in person

  • Get off the beaten path

  • Make new friends during the hunt

We've found geocaches in books among the stacks in a big city library, climbed under a jetty in Germany for a hidden gem, and met new friends with a similar "passion for caching" on a trail mere steps from our home. And as for me, what was once a great way to steal some "me time" has become an even better way for special family fun time.
So, grab your walking shoes and smartphone, put on some sunscreen and a face mask, and get caching. Your new family hobby might be one good thing to come out of the
COVID-19 pandemic.

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