Friday, February 29, 2008

Caching with Munchkins

In my last post I talked about caching with others. I’ll take that one step further and talk about caching with the younger set. Caching with children takes on an entirely different mindset than caching with adults. First off, they are not mini-adults and we should not expect the same level of patience that most adults have, although I would suggest that some children have infinitely more patience than some adults, but that’s an entirely different story. The key to caching with kids is to not over do it. Find a hike and make it a short one. Hopefully, there will be more than just one cache along the hike. That was very difficult to do when I first started geocaching back in 2001. There weren’t many caches around and they were mostly hikes and long hikes at that. We found our spots to go caching. Now, it should be much easier for cachers to find hikes that have several treasure chests along the way that the kids can help find and enjoy. It makes the hike not seem as long if there are things to do besides just walking.

When my kids want to come along and cache, I’ll usually end up caching with one or the other of my children, or sometimes pairs of them. But, I have cached with all three of my children together only once. I think once was enough for my then 12 year old daughter. She really didn’t have much of a say so in the matter because we were on a camping trip in Utah and I had decided that we really needed to find a cache in another state, “just because.” She went along for the ride, but really didn’t enjoy the caching aspect of it much. She’s never been a cacher, however, she tolerates me caching for short periods of time when we’re driving down or back up to her school. We actually play a game as we drive around town. I’ll point out a spot, “Hey, you know there’s a cache right over there.” She’ll retort back, “Did you find it?” Most of the time, the answer is yes, but one time I answered no and she insisted that we stop so Daddy could find a cache that had eluded him in the past.

My middle son cached with me from the very beginning, but eventually over the course of the years, decided that it wasn’t his thing. On another trip to Utah, we cached along a route, (before there were route queries) and found 7 or 8 caches. He said he wasn’t feeling well, so we went back to camp and then my youngest and I went back out and found three or four more. I don’t believe the middle child has been caching with me since. In fact, he calls caching “one of the dorky things Dad does in his spare time.” One thing I’ve learned from being around him is you have to have a thick skin because he’s going to call it like he sees it.

My youngest is my cacher. While the other two have been out with Dad caching, he’s the only one who seemingly has gotten the spark and passion of using billion dollar satellites to find pieces of Tupperware in the woods. He’s cached with me ever since I started caching. The second cache we ever found was a hike of two miles (one way), he drank all of his water on the first leg of the hike. We found the cache, traded our stuff and then started to hike back to the car. Needless to say, the water had gone through him quite quickly and he started to cry because there wasn’t a bathroom around for miles. It was then he learned one of the great blessings about being a male: the world can be your bathroom. Most of the rest of the hike, he kept exclaiming, “I can’t believe you let me pee into a bush Dad.” Almost 7 years later, he thinks nothing of going out in the wilderness if he has to go.

The fun thing about caching with kids is the wonderment they get when they either spy the cache, or when it’s opened and all the treasures are revealed to them. A friend of mine asked me if we wouldn’t mind taking him and his two young sons geocaching. We settled on a date and my youngest and my friend’s clan hiked up along a trail near my house to one of my caches. I knew it would be a good cache to whet their appetites because it had a lot of kids’ toys in it. You would have thought it was Christmas when they opened that cache up. Unfortunately, they haven’t been out caching since, but they might in the future. They enjoyed themselves and it’s probably just a matter of time before they might start bugging their dad again to go out on a hike to find some treasures.

I don’t cache all the time with my son, but we definitely have our moments. He and I both like to cache during the summertime on our camping trips. Last summer we found 43 caches on a camping trip to Flagstaff, AZ and the Grand Canyon. This summer we’ll be heading up to the north coast of California into Redwoods National Park for some camping and caching, but we might not find as many. My daughter is coming with us. But she’s an adult now, so she might find it nice just to stay in the campground and rest while her dad and kid brother go out and do that geocaching thing. Then again, she may surprise us. After all, she did make me stop to find that one cache.

Pictures were taken at or near the following geocaches:

WD's Original - by sbell111
Old Frat Cache - by jeff_jones_86044
ONT Travel Bug Ground Control - by Crims0ngh0st & AcjLady
Plank's Resting Place - by ookami adopted by BootyBuddies
Bad Swag - The Travel Bug Starter - by Webfoot

Profile for Webfoot


Terra Fenestra said...

Very cool. I've found a fun way to cache with my munchkins is to go park hopping. We play for a bit, I dig around in the bushes and we head to the next park.

Steve Natoli said...

This is a good subject for a post. One of the best things about being a parent is finding activities your kids like to do together with you. I especially liked the tips on how to keep the interest of the younger set.