View Full Version : Geocaching...

Jen M
04-19-2011, 12:47 PM
This is so much fun for the whole family!

We are new to the trend, but really getting the hang of it. We're loving the treasure hunting. :D We feel like geeky pirates. ;):lol:

The funny thing is that we're scoring some pretty neat treasures! Yesterday we snagged a $25 iTunes gift card! :eek: :clap: We've also gotten a $5 Gambia dollar bill, a pretty neat PathTag, and a few other little things. :cool:

Does your family Geocache?
What kinds of things do you leave (I wonder if we are not leaving 'good' enough treasures)?
We're thinking of designing our own tag to leave (and making it ourselves verses purchasing a bunch from a company like PathTags.). Has anyone made their own tags?
And have you ever hidden your own caches?

Thanks! :)

04-19-2011, 12:55 PM
We used to be into geocaching- we lost our gps :( And haven't been for a while. Gotta get us a new one when we have the $$. We have a few caches that we've hidden- 1 is a micro- by a favorite fishing spot- another is a multi-cache near our cabin. We also did another one by my parent's cabin. What do we leave? Various trinkets and small toys- kids meal toys, hot wheels, nothing as fancy as gift cards- dh likes to leave a silver or gold dollar or a 50 cent piece. We have a "cache box" with a bunch of toys and such for the kids to exchange.

04-19-2011, 01:14 PM
We used to do a lot of geocaching, probably will again over the summer. We just leave the little crappy toys the kids always get at birthday parties that we always have laying around.

I have made two caches. One, I just used an old spice container, covered in in duct tape, and placed it inside a guard rail. I called it "Sugar 'n' Spice". The other I did on a dead end road and called it "Three Point Turn".

Shannon P
04-19-2011, 02:37 PM
We like geocaching, but don't care for the junky trinkets. I actually prefer letterboxing because the hunt it's more about the hunt and documenting your find.

04-19-2011, 03:22 PM
We love geocaching! We have a team name and everything. Everyone but me has a code name-just for fun.
We have hidden about 10 caches. We have found a couple hundred.
We are taking a long trip this summer, and hope to cache in some far away states.
We do leave some kids meal toys, but try to leave cooler stuff, too. For a first time find, we leave a dollar or something really cool. We had some geocaching patches,which we left as a ftf prize in a couple of caches. We sewed patches on hoodies, so we have team shirts. Dorks, I'm sure. We love it, and we can all do it (well the 2 yr old doesn't have much choice).

04-21-2011, 01:27 PM
I love geocaching, and letterboxing. You've been finding some COOL prizes! My kids like it too, but only if they can find something to swap (we have TONS of micros in our area). We just hid our first geocache yesterday and are working on another, and we've got two letterboxes planted too. (Well, three if you count the event letterbox I made.)

As for swap stuff ... some toys, some camping goodies (carabiners, etc ... can find good ones even at dollar stores), pins and patches and magnets (there are several themed caches in our area) ... just depends. One in our area is all about swapping coins. Little flashlights. Replacement geo-gear. Even used bags, for the Cache In Trash Out work.

I recently found a couple 'signature items' that you might could replicate. One was a little pin like you can make on CafePress, the mini size, with the person's username and a little message. I had some pins made up there for a Cub Scout geocache event, and the price wasn't too awful. Also, someone had gotten little wooden discs, like coins, presumably at a craft store, and colored a design by hand on them ... permanent markers, I presume. More handwork, but can be personalized. The kids might enjoy making those.

The pathtags are cool ... we have a few that were gifts or door prizes (local meet-ups are GREAT!) ... but I don't see investing that kind of money yet, especially since they're just collectible and not trackable.

I just wish there were more 'regular' size ones around here that didn't involve a long hike. I like hiking, but can't always do it with the kids (and shouldn't go alone), and the micros are fun for me when they aren't impossible, but get tedious for the kids. Plus we seem to be a geo-jinx ... it's 50-50 whether our DNF is because we just didn't spot it or because it actually disappeared ... I feel like we're the local geocache listing clean-up crew sometimes. LOL. Get some great stories that way though! And we always flunk inconspicuous...

Alice R
04-21-2011, 02:43 PM
I don't leave anything and we've never found anything either.

We have done some geocaching but are limited by my snake-a-phobia. :eek:

Hayley M
04-21-2011, 05:44 PM
We done a little geocaching with the kids. We love it! We haven't left anything yet, but have found 3 caches. Our kids really like it too.

04-21-2011, 06:54 PM
I have been geocaching for 8 years- started when there were only a few per 5 mile radius. I still love getting out in nature and find hidden areas of placed I visit.

Honestly, as the popularity of geocaching has increased so has the placement of "geotrash" in cache containers. Some of them I find now really just need to be dumped out in the garbage and restocked.

I look at it as - I only leave something I would like find myself. So, no Happy Meal , birthday toys for me.

I, for a long time, made my own signature items. I used polymer clay and made coins with rubber stamp impressions. I would sign my geocaching name on the back in sharpie marker with the year on them. I also made a series of polymer clay heads/faces using a polymer clay push mold. I gave them all names etc... They were really cool and a lot of fun to make. I would only leave them in really well placed, thought provoking caches. Many old time geocachers collected signature items and those heads were a hot commodity!
I also have a little rubber ink (1 inch square) and a little stamp that I always stamp the log book with (borrowed from the letter boxing world).

I have hidden about 15 caches over the years. I don't leave caches out for more than a year or two- I don't like the give away trails that form over time. I own a few travel bugs that are still traveling around). I don't recommend anyone placing a cache until they have 25-50 finds under their belt. You need to see poorly placed caches, well placed caches, bad cache containers and good cache containers etc...

Some really cool, thoughtful, creative "family" swag I have seen left in caches are:

*homemade little joke/riddle books- small like business card size
*a handful of marbles in a plastic baggie with directions for a marble game
* carabiner with a shrinky dink tag with the geocaching name of the family
- an origami folded dollar
- Wendy's kids frosty coupons
- hand decorated recipe card for a "unique" family recipe
- a neat postcard with a list of "Top Ten Things to do in our Hometown of ___" This list had some very off the beaten path, hidden gem type things for this town!
- foreign coins or paper bills
- directions for doing a cool magic trick on a laminated card
- enough embroidery floss, a photo of a friendship bracelet and simple directions how to make one - all in a little ziploc.
- a really good brain teaser word puzzle that you could email the cacher thru Groudpspeak and find out if you got the right answaer

There are really a lot of creative "family made" things you can put together on a small budget.

Hope you find something!

Caching is a GREAT family activity!

04-22-2011, 08:56 AM
Thanks for that post Shalome. Very inspiring. We've wanted to make our own thing to leave in caches, but haven't come up with anything yet.

Jen M
04-22-2011, 09:20 AM
What great ideas!! Thanks so much ladies for sharing!

Jen M
04-22-2011, 09:21 AM
Wow, thanks Shalom, those ideas are great! And thanks for sharing your experience.

04-22-2011, 10:14 AM
Your welcome!

The only small thing I would add is when geocaching with a family you also need to be really careful which caches you try and find. It is really hard to be stealthy in a public place with 3 kids.

The biggest cause of caches getting muggled (stolen or gone missing) is people seeing people searching for things, find it, open it and put it back. It is a recipe for it to get taken, which is really frustrating for a cache owner! Of course, some caches are just poorly placed the result is the same. You think noone is paying attention to you but

I always try and take my kids to caches that are under a little "cover" and not blatantly out in the open unless it is a virtual cache of some educational type.

Just be "aware" of how a family of 5 looks milling around somewhere where you might draw attention!

Have fun!

Jen M
04-22-2011, 12:11 PM
Yes, we noticed this. We've seen A LOT of warnings online about 'muggle eyes' at certain caches (my dc love the reference to Harry Potter). You're right it is not easy for us to not look 'up to something', and more hard to 'hide' our whole family when people are present. :lol: Some caches we've found in heavy brush and that was easier, but for the more open ones, we've tried to spread out a little while dh signed the log. I guess we'll get better with more experience.

Is there any other way to make us look less suspicious?

Alice R
04-22-2011, 01:50 PM
I know one geocaching team here local to me uses a turkey as their theme/team name. They always relate their caches and finds etc. to a turkey.

I always know the team when I see the word "turkey" anywhere.

You could do a family theme of something and whenever you leave something, make it related to that theme. After a while, people in your area will know your theme. Every time someone sees a X, they'll know it's you guys! :lol:

I also know that this turkey theme does fun-family caches so I know we will find it in a family safe place, nothing scary, daingerous or spooky. I've enjoyed all of their hunts.

It does make it fun to have a theme name/team.

04-22-2011, 05:12 PM
We do our best to be inconspicuous, but I find it a LOT easier to just be up front about what we're doing ... either the person watching you has heard of geocaching, and will then leave you alone (or help!), or you get to introduce somebody to the sport. Either way, you usually get well-wishes for your hunt. If I'm traipsing around the property of a small business for more than a minute or two, I usually let someone know what I'm up to ... like at a local ice cream place that has two caches and a letterbox on its property (completely unknown to them) ... the young clerk was fascinated, and it kept me out of potential trouble. Or at a small museum ... turns out the museum volunteers had been trying to CATCH a geocacher to let them know that the geocache had been destroyed, and they didn't know how to go about letting folks know ... so I was able to help them that way.

Since we *always* get caught anyway, minus a few lampskirt hides, we might as well be ambassadors of goodwill. :D

I even was out one time in a park, on the umpteenth try for a particular find, and saw a group nearby. I promptly sat down and started reading something, trying to be inconspicuous, till they would go away and I could continue to poke in the bush by the bench. Nope, even then I get 'caught' ... turned out to be some sort of prayer meeting, and they decided to evangelize on the way home. Try explaining geocaching to a bunch of folks who want to pray for your current need, and then have to translate it into Spanish for the other half of their group ... I would love to know how that came out. And I still didn't find it that night! :lol: (Turns out it had been moved, and the owner had to set it right first before we could find it.)

Having the paper printout in hand can be really useful when looking around on someone's business property. And by the official rules, at least the owner of the business ought to be aware of the hide.

Shalome, I love the ideas of your clay sculpture items! That sounds like it'd be an AWESOME summer activity. Might have to try something like that! I think we've even got some of the right clay lurking about here someplace...

04-22-2011, 11:37 PM
Kristen- I love your approach and I have done the same thing many times. I never worry about the people I talk to- it is the ones watching me talk to the ones I am talking to- especially if they are of the teenage persuasion!

My GPS is on the fritz and I need to get a new one soon so I can head back out now that the weather is finally nice this land they call MN!!

The polymer clay tokens were very fun to make. You can knock out a lot of them very quickly if you do the token ones. I use Sculpy clay. Kids could easily do them. I got some little ziploc bags at Michael's about the size of a business card ( by the jewelery making supplies) to put them in so they didn't get banged up and lost at the bottom of the cache container. I often would just put the little bag in the bag that the logbook was in. I made some that were rectangle shape too. I put a little hole in some designs so they could be made into a Christmas ornament , or made into a backpack "hang tag" like a key chain.

For the heads I made, I would take them out of the mold and then manipulate the faces with a stylus, pinch and squeeze them, add lines for wrinkles, seed beads for eyeballs. little tube beads for hair sticking up etc... One mold can produce an unlimited number of faces with manipulation. I left the back of the face flat - so I could write the name, my geocaching name and the year. I put them in the little plastic bags too and put them in the logbook bag.

I remembered another cool item I saw let in a cache by a family team. It was a homemade Farkel dice game in a film canister. with mini dice, directions and score sheet. I think it had a address label around the film canister with their team name and Geo-Farkel on it. If you could find the dice in bulk, they would be easy to put together too. I know I have gotten empty film canisters for free at the photo processing dept. at Target, Sams and Walgreens.

Another one was a little deck (maybe 5-6) of homemade wild flower identification cards for the MN woods. Very cool. They could be birds, butterflies ...

There was a homeschooling family nearby in WI that placed an entire series of caches about the US Presidents as a history project for their kids. Each cache was dedicated to a president and they had a laminated card in each one with info and odd facts about that President. They gave a prize to the first cacher to find all the caches in that series. It was an amazing project!

I have also done some great caches in South Dakota along the Lewis and Clark trail that were great educational caches.

Another creative cache I remember from many years ago was in a large dog park. It was a 5 gallon bucket and the theme was to trade dog toys! Who doesn't have a toy their dog just doesn't like to play with!

The cache I placed that got the most comments was one where I took a rubber rat, slit the belly open and put a little container in there with a small logbook. Then I hid up on a ledge inside a big dead tree in the woods. Freaked people out to reach up there and touch that thing but they loved it!

debbie in ak
04-25-2011, 11:36 PM
My dad just bought the boys a gps!:clap: So we are going to start geocaching at some point...just gotta figure it all out!

Jen M
04-26-2011, 12:19 AM
Very :cool:! Have fun! :D

Jennifer in VA
04-26-2011, 07:31 AM
Anne -

Love the idea of team t-shirts. My boys would love that!

We have an app for geocaching; first one we found was less than 3/4 a mile from house, through the woods. What a great way to start. Our church supposedly has one on site, but no one has been able to find it, so it may have been removed (our small group even talked about everyone showing up to try and find it :lol:)

Jen M
04-26-2011, 08:43 AM
I really like the t-shirt idea, too! We are in the process of designing our own 'team' stamp (we have some letterboxes around us). Our design could easily be printed larger and used on iron on transfers.

04-26-2011, 11:47 AM
Our church supposedly has one on site, but no one has been able to find it, so it may have been removed (our small group even talked about everyone showing up to try and find it :lol:)

Have you looked at the online log for the cache? There are sometimes good hints hidden in the logs, and also if no one can find it, you can flag it for the cache owner to inspect ... sometimes they're gone, and sometimes they just weren't put back the way they were supposed to be, so they're suddenly ten times harder to find. Wouldn't hurt to ask the cache owner to give it a check, if you've looked and can't find it.

I love all the nifty ideas for things to put in them.

We just had a letterboxers' meetup this weekend; it was AWESOME. Very small group (the two planners, and us and another homeschool family, and a homeschool family I invited to join us who'd never been on either kind of hunt) ... but we had a blast. They carved a series of 'Easter egg' stamps and hid them around the park, and printed up photo clues for the kids to use to find them. They all had so much fun finding them, and the owners had a blast watching the kids go all directions trying to match the pictures. Then one of the planners went off with our family to hunt a couple nearby caches that neither of us had found, which was fun. (Always good to meet folks who enjoy both hobbies! Sometimes folks don't.) As we were all packing up, an older couple came up to the one planner wearing his letterboxing t-shirt and introduced himself ... turned out they were letterboxers too, and had seen the event advertised, but didn't sign up because they had family in town and didn't think they could make it. So we all got to exchange stamps and they got to 'attend' the event anyway! Very fun and successful all around, with great weather.

04-26-2011, 12:36 PM
We love geocaching too! Unfortunately, our GPS is MIA, so we haven't been in a while. Our goodie collection is also missing, so I assume they just got laid down together in an unusual location.

We've haven't gone far afield, mostly just caches around our own town. I spent some time searching for unusual caches on the website and found one in the Twin Cities that uses a garbage can for the cache, and is intended to be a board game exchange. It's been a while, so I don't know if that one is still active. I'd love to go find it.

We are rarely muggle-proof! Four people searching for something in public will never be stealthy! I do think some of the hiders could be more discriminating on where they put them. We have one in town that is located in the middle of the landscaping between the patios/parking lots of a coffee shop and the Dairy Queen! How on earth would ANYONE be able to find that in secret?

I love the idea of making a family collectible to put in the caches. I'll have to present the boys with that idea and see what they come up with. One loves to draw, and the other likes woodworking and has a wood-burning stylus, so I bet we could make some decent wooden ornaments of some sort.

Jen M
04-26-2011, 01:02 PM
Kristen, what rubber do you use to make your stamps? I picked up two different kinds of rubber to carve our design. Our design is not too detailed, but does have our name. I am concerned that we will have trouble carving the simple font legibly enough to stamp.

Jennifer in VA
04-26-2011, 01:04 PM
Thanks Kristen

I'll have to look at the log. With IPhone App, both Kevin and I knew we were close and had it to a rock drainage ditch.

Jen M
04-26-2011, 01:21 PM
Wendy, there are a lot of caches in shopping centers and there is one at every location of a certain gas station chain that we like. We pretend to be talking on the phone. 'Pretend Grandma' got a phone call on Sunday when we were looking at a busy mall. We looked goofy standing around waiting for people to walk past to replace the cache, which was a large strip of magnetic numbers that were disguised as 'meter' numbers on a big electric box.

We also have a large cache at the top of a small mountain/hill near us that is a 'book exchange'. Dc really want to check that one out, but the cache is located on 'state trust land' and we don't have a permit. But there are plans for the land to be opened up to the public as a series of hiking trails. So we have our fingers crossed that we will be able to check it out soon.

04-26-2011, 02:44 PM
Wendy, there are a lot of caches in shopping centers and there is one at every location of a certain gas station chain that we like. We pretend to be talking on the phone. 'Pretend Grandma' got a phone call on Sunday when we were looking at a busy mall.

We've seen plenty of caches in public areas, but generally they are not high-traffic as far as people actually watching. Passers-by in parking lots or parks might look at you curiously, but rarely are they truly watching your every move. This one cache is in a small parking lot in full view of two patio areas. The odds of finding a time when no-one is watching are slim, unless it's nasty weather, and who wants to go cache hunting then?

We looked goofy standing around waiting for people to walk past to replace the cache, which was a large strip of magnetic numbers that were disguised as 'meter' numbers on a big electric box.

I LOVE this idea! I never would have found it.

04-26-2011, 04:41 PM
Jen, so far I'm just using cheap erasers from Big Lots, I think. :) I'm terrible at carving, so the price is right for practicing! So far I still have all my fingers... Actually, I've seen really nice ones done on erasers, too, and some foam ones, and things like that.

Jennifer, hope you find out what happened to it! We had a cacher from Ireland pass through the area recently, and a local cache came up on his listing that should never have made it ... it's been missing since November or so, and many of us have listed it as such. (I know we were the very last to find it; I should've pocketed it at the time as the area was about to undergo a weekend of renovation, but I was waiting for the cache owner to take action or give permission for us to take action. So long, cache! Down in the depths of the lagoon it went. Sigh.) I felt badly that the cacher spent time looking for one that was gone. It pays to check.

Lots of our near ones are in public areas. As for special land ... many parks require permits to place geocaches (and letterboxes), and national parks forbid them altogether. Worth checking out the policies, as you don't want to be the one who gets in trouble for searching when it was the placer's responsibility to secure permission!

One of our trickiest finds was in a funky container that looked like a faucet ... never would have found it without posted photos ... and it turned out that THAT was concealed inside one of those green drain looking things. Of course it was fairly soggy too...