So people reading the title of this post will fall into two camps those who know what I am talking about and those who say a geo-what?
So first of all a little explanation as to what Geocaching is – simply it is following a GPS signal to a set point to find a ‘cache’ (a hidden container). There are caches set up all over the UK (and world actually) by fellow Geocachers and it is very simple to get started with a basic (free) membership to the Geocaching website, a smartphone and a downloadable app before you jump in and upgrade to premium membership for added benefits and spend money on a proper GPS.
I first heard of Geocaching last summer and had a little go with my phone but the Littlesheeps concentration wasn’t that great, Mr Littlesheep wasn’t that keen and we had limited success plus there weren’t that many caches near our house. This year this has changed at 8 and 6 the older two are keen and some other local Geocachers have set up some circular series nearby so there are lots of routes with several opportunities to find a cache (which means it’s less dissapointing if you can’t find one because you can just move onto the next one).
So this week with our borrowed dog we have been on a Geocaching adventure and have more planned (and I’m sure we will continue even when we’ve given the dog back!). Mr Littlesheep is a bit sceptical about the concept – he describes it as “basically spending three times as long on a walk as you need to because you stop every 500m to look for someone’s overflowed tupperware collection to swap your party bag rubbish for someone elses” but the Littlesheeps are keen (and are already asking when they can go on another Geocaching walk) and I think it has it’s benefits that help children learn:
- When geocaching there is a lot less moaning about ‘how far the walk is’ – I took the three Littlesheeps out on a 5ish mile walk (which took all day) and the littlest (aged 4) only moaned about the last little bit when you could almost see our house!
- Geocaching gets children active – the walking, climbing styles, jumping puddles, squelching through mud are all great to develop gross motor skills as well as general fitness.
- Geocaching helps children learn about the countryside code, using footpaths appropropriately and reading maps.
- ‘Swapping’ your ‘treasures’ for someone elses is a great lesson in sharing and can help children start to comprehend money (you have to give something to get something back).
- Geocaching improves observation skills as once you have found your location you need to search out the camouflaged cache. These can be as tiny as a bolt on a gate or an old 35mm film canister or a small plastic container hidden in a camouflage bag or covered in camouflage tape.
- Geocaching teaches children to cope with the failure of a DNF (did not find) as well as the success of finding