Some of the best outdoor events are fun family camping games that are played during traditional camp activities. Engaging in a geocaching camping game is the perfect way to add a little treasure hunt to a trek on a hiking trail.
What is Geocaching?
If you are unfamiliar with geocaching you need to change that … ASAP!
Geocaching is a modern-day outdoor treasure hunt that is totally fun and a great activity to enjoy during camping trips because you get to experience the great outdoors in a unique way that does not require lots of stuff (except your phone or handheld GPS) so you can stick with packing only your essential camping gear for simplicity.
A geocache (also called a cache) is typically a small-ish waterproof treasure box hidden outdoors for players to find by using a map and clues.
What Is The Point Of Geocaching?
Geocachers are people who play the game.
Cache owners hide the treasures on private or public property (with permission, of course).
Cache finders look for the hidden treasures by using a GPS enabled device to navigate to specific coordinates and then seek to find the geocache hidden there … usually in a camouflaged hiding place. Paper maps can be printed for anti-digital players but that is not the norm.
There are millions of geocaches that are hidden in all areas of the world!
In order to begin a hunt, searchers have several options to locate caches near them to pick a treasure to find:
- Handheld GPS Navigator
The most uncommon way to find a geocache site is to go to geocaching.com and print out the map and clues to carry with you on your search.
Open the Geocaching app on your phone … and navigate to the cache.
After you use it, you’ll understand why it made our list of the best camping apps you really need to try!
Although the basic app is free … you may want to consider purchasing the premium version which includes more features.
GPS Navigation Systems For Geocaching
You can use a Handheld GPS Navigator if it supports geocaching GPX files.
A unit like this stores and displays important information about the geocache … like … location, terrain, difficulty, hints and descriptions.
In addition to geocaching game capabilities, this rugged handheld navigator comes with a preloaded worldwide basemap, is a WAAS enabled GPS receiver with HotFix and GLONASS support resulting in fast positioning and reliable signals.
You can also see the high and low elevation points and store waypoints along your track which will help you estimate time and distance between points.
Is Geocaching Dangerous?
Just like any outdoor activity, there are a few things to keep in mind to stay safe and make your game enjoyable.
- Prepare the same way you do for a hike with appropriate gear, water and food.
- Some caches are hidden in dark places (like hallow tree stumps and heavy brush) so you may want to bring hiking poles and gloves to help you search “comfortably” in those obscured locations.
- Begin your hunting early enough to finish in daylight but be prepared with camping lights just in case you return after the sun goes down.
- Know your group’s hiking abilities and limitations. Caches are rated for game and terrain difficulty … 1 is easiest … 5 is most difficult.
- Start with a fully charged phone or handheld GPS so you don’t run out of power on your device. If your hike will be long, bring your camping phone charger to keep the battery sufficiently charged throughout the day. If you choose to print the map, make sure you keep it clean and dry as you navigate.
- Don’t stay glued to the screen. Look up for clues as well as avoiding hazards that are on the ground and in the air.
Here are a few reminders to be a successful and polite geocacher:
#1. Pack your SWAG items before leaving camp if you plan to swap out any cache items … you should leave something of equal or greater value if you are doing a swap.
- SWAG stands for Stuff We All Get.
- Typically SWAG is homemade, represents a geocacher’s interests or where they are from.
- It’s extra fun when you create camping crafts that meet the criteria for the geocache SWAG swap.
- Check out the description before you leave camp so you know what to bring … as an example the Magic Tree Geocache (GC8TC2G) description says:
- Enjoy the Country Club Trail to the Pat Mullen Vista Spur up the mountain. You will find a magical old Aligator Juniper tree keeping watch on our geocache. Bring gnomes, painted rocks, beads or decorations of your choice to add to this special tree.
See how to do this fun rock painting camping activity to make your swag swap item right at your campsite!
#2. Use your map to determine how close you are to your hidden treasure.
#3. Compare your map with the actual terrain to determine the best route to the hidden cache location.
#4. Use the compass view on your device when you are close to the cache … it will point you in the direction to look for the treasure when you are in its immediate area.
#5. Once you know you are really close to the hidden treasure, watch for clues … things that look abnormal should be investigated.
#6. After you find the hidden treasure you can sign the logbook and exchange one SWAG item.
#7. Before you leave, put everything back as you found it and keep the location secret so you don’t spoil the fun for other cache finders!
#8. Be courteous to muggles.
- They are non-geocachers.
- Where did that name come from?
- In the Harry Potter series by J. K. Rowling, a Muggle is a person who lacks magical ability and was not born in a magical family.
- In the geocaching / camping / hiking world … muggles may not appreciate the game and would like you to keep the outdoors as natural and untouched as possible.
FREE Camping Trip Planner
Make your next trip stress-free with a little pre-planning. Get your copy of our FREE printable camping trip planner template!
More Camping Fun
The camping fun doesn’t need to end after you find your geocache treasures! Try these other family-friendly activities.