Alright, I must admit that I’ve known about this for a while. In fact, we started “going on a homeschool adventure” periodically when my son was 4. But even the cousins who were 8-10 loved these adventures this summer, so I wanted to pass them on to you. For some reason, this is a small “niche” thing to do, and it isn’t well popularized, although it is well loved by those who do it.
Are you ready to know what the adventures were? It was Geocaching! Now, I know, it’s a big word, it isn’t used very often, and you don’t want to admit it, but you aren’t sure what in the world Geocaching is. It’s ok, I didn’t have a clue in the beginning either.
Here’s the short description from Wikipedia (It links back to the article on Wikipedia, just in case you want to send your kiddos there to do some research for their nature journals, or their science this week 😉 ):
Geocaching is an outdoor recreational activity, in which participants use a Global Positioning System(GPS) receiver or mobile device and other navigational techniques to hide and seek containers, called “geocaches” or “caches”, at specific locations marked by coordinates all over the world.
Ok, so now you are probably thinking “But I don’t have a GPS receiver. I thought you said it would be free?” Don’t fret your pretty little head. More than likely you already have everything you need.
According to the PEW Research Center, 68% of adult Americans have smartphones. (source) Chances are since you are an uber busy mom who is already juggling a home, kids, homeschooling, activities, meals, etc you probably already have a smartphone to help you stay sane. The great news is, that your smartphone is a GPC receiver!
So, I completely stumbled across this by accident. I knew about the general idea of geocaching, but I learned about it sometime in my teens, when smartphones were still non-existent. It never occurred to me that I could do it without a topographic map. But when I realized that I could go find geocaches right from an app on my phone, I was psyched!Your Free Homeschool Adventure Awaits! Go Geocaching Today! Click To Tweet
Alright, enough of my chitty-chat. You can go and get the app for either iPhones or Android systems on the Geocaching Website. There are literally tons of geocaching apps out there, and you are welcome to go try out as many of them as you would like. However, after digging through several of them, I came to the conclusion that the one from Geocaching.com was by far the easiest to use for us. Plus, the kiddos thought is was super cool that it placed smiley faces on all the geocaches that we had already found. The strangest things amuse them, I know.
Now as a word of warning, when you sign up for the app from Geocaching.com, you are getting their “free version”. Although there are literally hundreds of thousands of geocaches that it allows you to find for free, there are some that are hidden unless you upgrade. Geocaching hit 1MILLION geocaches in the US. in 2014 (source) I cannot imagine how many there are now.
For us, the free version was more than fine. If your kids really, really want to find the big caches, or you want to be able to do the Earth Science caches as part of your Science curriculum, then the additional plan might be worth signing up for. And no, for what it’s worth, I’m not being paid or compensated in any way to recommend them. I just wanted to share with you how my kiddo and his cousins were able to go on so many “adventures” for free this summer.
Since you are likely as new at this as I was, I want to make sure that you are prepared before you head out. There are some things that you will want to have with you and some things you should know to make sure that your adventure goes as smoothly as possible, and no one is disappointed. Snag the printable below to make sure that you are prepared, and go start your adventure!