Geocaching: An Adventurous Time Together as a Family

Now that we’re seeing sunnier days (and fewer mosquitoes), your family might be looking for new excuses to get outside. If you’re ready to enjoy the summer weather while it lasts. Biking, hiking, and running are all fan-favorite ways to appreciate what mother nature has to offer but there’s more. I want to introduce a low-cost and highly engaging activity that will make you and the little ones see the great outdoors in an entirely new way. Let me introduce, geocaching, also known as the world’s largest treasure hunt!

What is Geocaching?


Originally called geostashing by its creators in Oregon, geocaching is a hobby that’s been around since 2000. This simple, yet addictive, activity has evolved to include its own global community. This Smartphone app that helps treasure hunters of all ages find cleverly hidden caches (or containers). They can be anywhere from a hollowed tree in your local park to a cement structure in the middle of a bustling city. These caches can come in all shapes and sizes and can be hidden by absolutely anybody. Yes, that means even you can tap into your mischievous wit and stash a treasure for enthusiasts to find for years to come!

Geocaching gets you and the kiddos off the couch and into the world! Depending on the type and placement of the cache, it can be a valuable learning tool and help your family discover new things to love about your hometown. While kiddos have no shortage of curiosity (and energy) for exploring the unknown, the teenagers and adults will enjoy the ways this activity challenges their mental and physical limits. Also, for those with varying levels of physical ability, the geocaching website or app indicate the level of difficulty. It indicates the type of terrain, and the accessibility associated with finding each cache.

With reportedly 3 million (and counting) geocaches hidden worldwide, this isn’t an activity your family will grow bored of any time soon. Once you’ve conquered all of your local caches, you can keep an eye out them while on vacation or taking a day trip. Case in point, my most surprising cache was one that I stumbled upon in the remote Upper Peninsula while walking through the woods with friends. We didn’t even have service up there, so I logged it in the app when I returned home!

How do I do Geocaching?


Unless you’re an infinitely patient person (don’t worry, I’m not either), you’ll find it much more rewarding to actually plan finding a cache rather than hoping to happen upon one. This is also important because very rarely is a cache just hanging out in plain sight. Here are the basic components of geocaching:

Create an account on or download the app

Geocaches around Lansing, at a glance.

Either of these routes will give you a GPS picture and help you navigate toward the starting point to find the cache. The location depicted via GPS can be anywhere between 5 – 50 feet from where the cache is hidden. It’s especially helpful to have the geocaching app that can navigate in real-time. It can help you more accurately close-in on the cache! For full access to all caches, you will need to purchase the premium membership, which is currently $30 a year or $6 if you pay monthly.

Have the Right Gear


Pen or Pencil

While some caches have a pencil to sign their logbook, some might not. If your family would like to leave a physical trace of your victory, it’s a good idea to have a writing utensil handy. Alternatively, you can simply log your find in the app.

Anything necessary for your terrain

Some caches might be hidden in a relatively clean picnic pavilion. While others (my favorite) require trudging through the thick woods, climbing on fallen trees, and digging through bug infested brush. Make sure to read the details on your planned cache beforehand. That way you can suit-up with bug spray, long pants, boots, or bring sanitizing wipes if necessary. Take it from me, it’s a big bummer to forfeit searching for a cache because you’re stuck in a swarm of bugs without spray.

A token (optional)

Depending on the size, you’ll notice that many geocaches are filled with little trinkets or souvenirs. These are leave-behinds that other cachers, such as yourself contributed to boost the magic of it all, leave behind a little legacy, or trade with a previously contributed item. I’ve seen items ranging from colorful erasers to small toys or Matchbox cars. Again, leaving something of the sort is optional, but as a courtesy, don’t take anything unless you’re leaving something of equal or greater value.

Leave no stone unturned


While the level of difficulty varies among caches, even the simpler ones often require a keen eye and inquisitive mind. This is where enlisting each family member’s special talents can come in handy. Perhaps your child can explore the area from the ground and put their climbing skills to use, while you survey the area from a higher vantage point. Competing to see who can find the cache first is undoubtedly fun, but you might have much better luck collaborating!

Log it, or it never happened


As mentioned, most caches will have a physical log book in it to document your family’s find. You can also log within the geocaching app or website. The nice thing about the latter is that the hider of the cache (and the community) can see immediately that you’ve found it. Alternatively (and this is a rare situation) when you’re unable to find a cache, logging a Did Not Find (or DNF) on the app or website can alert the hider to revisit the cache and ensure it hasn’t been destroyed or relocated due to interferences such as inclement weather.

Where Can I do it?

A map of geocaches at Burchfield Park

When it comes to geocaching, the world really is your oyster. For a few hours worth of caching, you can find a trove of multiple treasures at a local park. Some of my favorites for caching are Burchfield Park, Lake Lansing Park, and the trails at Harris Nature Center. Alternatively, you can be a spontaneous geocacher and whip open the app for a quick find when you’re walking around downtown Lansing or even Grand Ledge. When planning your adventure in the app, you might even discover exclusive events, multi-stage caches, or even virtual caches!

Although geocaching is simple in nature, this is just a hint of the whimsical world of searching for others’ hidden treasures. For more information and helpful tips, visit So embrace you family’s wild side and give geocaching a try. I can assure you the treasures you discover will include both those in the caches you find and the memories you create together!

Looking for more outdoor fun this year?

Head here!

One of my first geocache finds with my wife.
Britt DeRoos
I'm a new(er) mama of twins, a product development analyst, and a transformative life coach. My days consist of chasing babies around with my wife, family hikes with our three dogs, and never-ending home renovation projects. Parenthood would've been impossible without the support and shared wisdom from our family and friends, so I'm here to share what I can to help make other mamas' journeys a little smoother!


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