(Apparently a moose was looking for the cache too)
It is easy to get lost in the over 1500 acres of Kincaid Park. Dirt paths split off from paved trails (over 60 kilometers of trails!), there are hills to explore and bridges to cross. Moose and bear are lucky enough to make homes here and have the right of way, often causing unintentional detours. This park has a wonderful history including hosting the first operational Nike-Hercules Unit (link from Anchorage Park Foundation) You can fish, practice your biathlon skills, disc golf, do some archery, train your Hundesport dog or even geocache.
Geocaching involves following GPS coordinates to a “cache”. A cache is a waterproof container (old ammo can or rubbermaid container often) often containing a log book and a variety of treasures (you bring a treasure and take one). What child could not be enticed to run around outside in search of a treasure where you can retrieve a treat?
(Geocaching with a dog, grandmother, and children 1 month old, 20 months and almost 3 years old. The Geomate is fun for everyone!)
Apisphere makes a wonderfully child-friendly GPS device (but, you might want to use this one instead of your GPS!). It weighs 3.2 ounces, is splash proof and has a neck lanyard to prevent it from getting lost at your rest stop. It has 250,00 preloaded coordinates (you can purchase an update for more hunting fun!). The Geomate Jr. costs $69.95 and can be found at most REI stores, Amazon, LLBean and many more locations.
(The shark really wanted to geocache as well)
This tiny device has three buttons and one of those turns it on. Simple! For each cache, you are given the size (film canister to big bucket), terrain (walking path to mountain climbing) and difficulty (out in the open to searching is required). An arrow shows you which direction to go and the screen gives you the distance. It will get you to within about 10 feet and then the hunt is on!
It makes treasure hunting easy for children. I personally love some of the other features! You can set your home location so it can guide you back to your car after a long day of hunting. It works as a compass and can also give you your longitude and latitude. It also gives your elevation. The website has tons of videos as well!
On our usual walk, I took the Geomate to spice things up a bit. My boys loved the idea of a treasure hunt! I forgot to bring the directions and was able to figure out to use it without much trouble. We couldn’t do the first offered cache as we had to go a different route and choose the second (you can scroll through the 20 closest caches). The arrow was easy to follow and even the adults in our party got excited as the feet counted down.
(He needed a sword in case Hook was near the buried treasure!)
We got to 13 feet and found ourselves at a well known place on our trail! After a bit of hunting, we found a small rubbermaid box. It was filled with small trinkets and toys. I forgot to bring an item to trade, so my son decided to leave a bag of fruit snacks. I told him he could choose anything from the box! He was so excited and after much consideration selected a bag of fruit snacks.
I was smitten. My sons want to find treasure on every walk and hike now. I do wish you could re-charge the Geomate with a USB port. There have been a few times when it took a while to acquire a satellite, so I just turn it on while we are getting on coats and shoes (the 2 aaa batteries last over 12 hours). I also would like a list of the caches available so we could plan an outing a park knowing there were close caches to find. Even though this Geomate is durable and amazingly constructed, I would love a little carrying case or even “skin” like those for Ipods.
(We found the loot!)
I give the Geomate Jr. my Alaskan Mom Approval for its ease of use, thoughtful child focused construction (splash proof!) and how it encourages people of all ages to run around in the woods. What a wonderful gift for your little explorer (or pirate!)?
*If any members of the AOFN would like to go geocaching, let me know and you can borrow the Geomate!*