This is a guest post from Sheri Thomson. Sheri grew up in Washington State but lives in Australia with her aussie husband and their two little kids. She is currently studying Sustainable Agriculture and Food Security at the University of Western Sydney, and blogs about her mommy (mis)adventures at www.mommyadventures.net.
As the wide track narrowed, we could see hills, valleys, and a lake in the distance. Hannah (who was 3 at the time) excitedly half skipped, half ran ahead with Aaron, while Daniel (1) and I lagged behind. No matter how fast he tried to go, he wasn’t as fast as Hannah. He had been in the baby carrier but decided walking would be much more fun.
“We’re almost to the treasure!” Hannah yelled excitedly.
Aaron glanced at the GPS on his phone. “Yes, we’re almost there, the treasure should be just here somewhere,” he said, pointing to a large rock formation.
“I’m going to find it!” Hannah exclaimed while looking in and around the rocks.
After a couple of minutes of enthusiastic searching, she found a plastic container full of inexpensive little trinkets that little girls everywhere would love: hair clips, pink whistles, sparkly things, and all sorts of other stuff. Hannah rifled though the plastic treasure chest until she decided to go with the little magnifying glass.
“I can use this next time we search for treasure,” she told us.
We replaced the magnifying glass with a sparkly hair clip that we purchased on the way up the mountain, and filled in the log book with Hannah’s first name, the date, what we took, and what we put in to replace it.
This is geocaching. Not all of the over 2 million geocaches worldwide are full of toys for little girls, but we prefer to find caches that are full of stuff for kids. Some have only a notebook that you’re supposed to fill in when you find it. Others have multiple locations, with the first cache giving information to lead you to the next. You can even make up your own geocache and add the coordinates and general information to the worldwide geocaching website www.geocaching.com. Geocaching is a really fun, cheap activity to do with kids (or without, but we’ve never done it without the kids).
The geocaching app on Aaron’s phone led us to the cache location, but it was up to us to find it’s hiding place once we got there.
“Can we go find treasure again?” Hannah asked us a few weeks later. We didn’t have time to drive up the mountain that day, and there aren’t any closer caches that have things she’d like in them, but Aaron had an idea.
“Can you buy some little trinkets and a container, so we can make our own kids geocache?” he asked me.
I bought some tiny travel sized playdoh, a few little dinosaurs, and a couple of shiny plastic bracelets from the cheap shop. I wrote the geocaching instructions on the first page of the small spiral paper pad, in case someone came upon the treasure unintentionally. Aaron stashed the cache in the hollow of a fallen tree next to a creek, at the park near our house, which is a place that people in general weren’t going to be poking around, but one that wasn’t overly difficult for the kids to get to.
Aaron drew a simple map for Hannah so she could lead us to the treasure Dora the Explorer style. They squealed in delight when they found the treasure in “their” park.
A week later, they wanted to find the treasure again. As we slowly made our way down the bank towards the creek, it was obvious our cache had been pilfered. Playdoh containers littered the creek, their contents stolen. Stickers were rudely discarded everywhere, and all the dinosaurs were gone. The container that held it all was open and upside down next to the log, the little spiral note pad in the mud. I guess the kids who found it either didn’t bother reading the instructions, or just could care less.
“Our treasure!” Hannah said saidly.
Aaron thought that might happen. Even though it was hidden and contained the instructions, he had a feeling that it might get stolen. Needless to say, he was ready with an explanation.
“Oh no, the PIRATES got your treasure!!” He told the kids.
“PIRATES!!!” Daniel yelled.
“Naughty pirates!!” Hannah said with a smile across her face. Apparently, pirates stealing our treasure is very exciting.
“PIRATES!!!!!!!!!!!!!” Daniel yelled in the car when I pulled up next to a truck at a red light a week later.
Hannah looked over at the skull and cross bone flag flapping in the wind on the front of the truck. “HE STOLE OUR TREASURE!!!!!!!!!!! MOMMY, THERE IS THE NAUGHTY PIRATE!!!”
“OUR TREASURE, MOMMY! HE HAS OUR TREASURE” Daniel yelled.
I kept my face forward, hoping the big dude with long scraggly hair in the truck next to us didn’t notice the angry kids pointing and yelling at him.