The summer holidays will soon be here - but are you looking forward to them, or are you dreading them? You are not alone! It’s the same every year, after the initial excitement of breaking up from school, it doesn’t take long before the kids become bored and irritable and parents get stressed-out thinking of yet more things to keep them amused.
If you’re lucky you may be going away for a week or two, but then what? Well, for those who have been preparing there may be enough to do for at least a week, two at the most but then what?! How long will it be before you hear the words “I’m bored” or “There’s nothing to do” - and then hear yourself replying “go and find something to do”, “get out from under my feet”, “stop fighting with your brother”, “leave your sister alone”, or “haven’t you got another video to watch”!
Free fun that’s healthy too!
Well it doesn’t have to be like that anymore, because there is something that is free, fun and healthy too and above all the kids will love it. It will get you out of the house, involves the whole family and is educational too. It’s called Geocaching! In this guest blog by Geocache Trails, we find out moreabout the outdoor game that is taking the world by storm.
More Life have published research which estimates that 4.3 million children this holiday will succumb to summer sofa syndrome and pile on half a stone during the 6 week school holidays. A 40 minute fun geocaching walk can burn off 140 calories and help ensure that they finish the school holidays as fit as when they started them.
The outdoor game for kids of all ages!
In a nutshell, geoaching is a high-tech scavenger hunt or treasure trail, “geocachers”, hide containers known as caches and then post the co-ordinates on the internet (try Geocaching.com as a good starting point) for other geocachers to find. Using a GPS enabled device such as a satnav or even a smart phone you enter in the co-ordinates and set off on your adventure to find the geocache.
And, you won’t need to go far for your adventure!
With over 1.75 million geocaches all over the world, you won’t have to go far to find one, there could be one outside your house, in your local park, down in the woods. There is even one on the International Space Station - not surprisingly that one doesn’t get found very often! The point is they can be hidden absolutely anywhere with permission, but they are never buried.
A geocache is typically the size a lunch box, some are smaller than a thimble whilst others are as large as a bucket. Some are easy to find and others are cleverly disguised to blend almost invisibly with their surroundings and so are more difficult to find. The website lets you pick easy or challenging ones.
Find the cache and swap your “swag”
Your GPS device will get you to within a few feet of the cache but then you and the kids will have to start hunting. When you find a cache, you sign the log book inside it. Some caches contain trinkets and treasure known as “swag” for the kids to find, but the golden rule is that if you take something out you have to put something back in of equal or higher value. When you have finished, put the cache back how you found it and when you get back home log your visit online and describe your adventure for others to see. It’s so simple.
Getting started is so easy
All you need to get started is a free account at Geocaching.com and a GPS device or a GPS enabled mobile phone, for example you can download an App for the iPhone, Android and Windows phones. Help is always at hand through the geocaching community forums if you get stuck on anything, just ask and someone will help you with the answer.
Learn the ropes first
The best way to begin is to look for caches near to your home, pick one that involve a short walk or bike ride. Once you have got the hang of how it all works and have had a few successful finds you can start to venture further a field and perhaps get out into the countryside. Even if it might be drizzling, you will find the whole family motivated to set off and find the next one!
Then hit the trail
Many geocaches are hidden along a trail, so you can have some fun while taking a healthy walk. A geocache trail could take you on a circular walk through the countryside, some trails can be found in towns and cities as well. Sometimes you collect a set of clues from each cache on a trail, which will lead to the final location!
Persuading youngsters to go for a walk can be difficult because to them it’s just “boring” but combine it with a geocache hunt and it will be a different story. Kids simply love an adventure so let them lead it. Give them the GPS device and you will be amazed how far they will walk without even realising it.
The Geocache Trails website has recently partnered with Walk4Life, here are some trails so you can be inspired!
- Westbury White Horse Geocache Trail - some brilliant photos to go with this walk!
- Snowshill Scramble - one of the best trails that our friends at geocache trails have ever done!
- Gramps Hill Geocache Trail - some really amazing views
- Kilmersdon Walk - spot the geocaching dog in one of the photos!
- The Bird Series - near Banbury, a mind-blowing 20 caches in just over a 6 mile walk!
- Savory Pie Trail - in Leicestershire
- Newton's Contrasting Circular Trail - in the Chilterns
Over the next few months more and more geocache trails will be plotted on the Walk4Life mapping. In the meantime you can see if there is geocache trail near you by visiting Geocache Trails then use the Walk4Life website to plot your walk on the lovely OS maps on the Walk4Life website. Then add your photos to the walk when you get back!
Or, anyone who already has a geocache trail saved to a GPS kit from a walk they have done before, you can now automatically add your .gpx file when creating a walk here on the website, instead of drawing it on the map in the usual way! Really easy!