I CONSIDER GEOCACHING part game and part trekking. While helping our four-year-old daughter navigate towards several discoveries, I've gathered some ideas worth sharing for other geocaching newbies.
We start our outdoor geocaching adventures indoors by talking to our mountaineering pre-schooler about the kind of shoes she should wear for the cache we're about to locate. I use a Nokia Lumia phone to select favourites and we normally talk about what the clues mean. I've discovered we can increase the spatial awareness in young Mia by discussing words like "along" and "under" and "behind." It helps that she has developed her perceptual awareness of these prepositions because it makes field guidance easier when we're within 300 metres of the cache. It's essential to review the cache attributes since these icons always help narrow choices of geocaches. We're staying at or below level three in difficulty with young children leading the way.
We've started drawing maps of the area near the cache. When we sketch the maps, we find major reference points like roads, boreens, and water features. Then we use Google Street View to get more of an idea what the local terrain looks like. In some cases, a Picasa album puts the cache directly on a Google Map which feels like cheating except from a four-year-old's point of view, it's more like leveling the playing pitch.
We discuss distances from where we might park the car or where we might step into a pasture. We've learned it takes longer to cross a wooded area than to walk a track abeam a field and approach from the shortest distance from a clearing.
As a former Boy Scout, I really appreciate the ethos of Cache In Trash Out along the way. It's also a good lesson to pass to another generation, while having fun with a geocache.
The biggest challenge I've had to surmount concerns battery power. Using GPS and over the air services on the Nokia Lumia can flatten its battery within four hours. That won't do, so we normally walk the route into the geocache with all electronics muted. That ensures we have enough power to record the find and even share the joy with a digital upload from the field.
I expect to share other geocaching notes during the summer as Mia becomes expert in Level Two Geocaching.
Geocaching.com -- Getting Started.