Geocaching with family is new way to get fit

  • Mary Catherine Domaleski
  • Fitness
  • May 1, 2009

Geocaching1As parents, we want to promote good health and fitness habits for our kids, and one of the best ways to keep our kids fit is through family fun. It is a matter of finding activities that the whole family will enjoy doing together. You may find a simple game of hide and seek gets your gang on the move. Jump ropes, hula hoops, footballs and soccer balls can lend themselves to hours of fun and games. When your family is having fun, they won’t realize they are exercising.

So, how would you like to try something different? Geocaching is an activity that’ll promote physical and mental fitness, while appealing to a broad range of interests and ages in your family.

Geocaching is an outdoor treasure-hunting game where participants seek hidden containers called “geocaches” located all around. The game only requires three things: a GPS to locate the general area of the geocache using coordinates, a little brain power to solve any clues/hints that are needed to find the geocache, and a little physical activity to walk to/from the cache locations and ultimately find the cache.

Our family first started geocaching back in 2003. The entire family loved it then and still loves it now! Fayette County has well over 100 geocaches hidden throughout the area, including Fayetteville, Tyrone, Brooks, Peachtree City, Starr’s Mill, and other locations. You have probably walked right by a geocache and not even known it.

Here’s how it works. First, you go to the website http://www.geocaching.com. Although there are paid membership levels for advanced features, the site itself is free. Once there, you can look up geocaches by place name, coordinates, city, or even zip code. Chances are, there are probably several geocaches within a 3-5 mile radius of your house.

Once you have identified geocaches of interest, print off the pages so that you can refer to the coordinates. You’ll need to enter those coordinates into a GPS device. A portable GPS that you can carry with you works best. A basic model GPS can be purchased for less than $100. More elaborate models that provide maps, color, and computer integration are available at price levels up to about $400. We use a cheap GPS and that works just fine.

After you have your coordinates entered, pack a lunch, water, a pen/paper, some “trinkets,” and head out to go geocaching. Trinkets? Yes, some of the caches are in containers that allow the smaller children to take a small toy as long as they leave one. Kid’s meal toys from fast food restaurants are examples of “trinkets.”

When we go geocaching, we also want to make it a fitness activity, so we like to park the car and walk from cache to cache where applicable. Stone Mountain Park is a great place loaded with geocaches, including the top of the mountain! If you live in Peachtree City, there are several geocaches within walking distance of each other.
Geocaching3

As you attempt to find a geocache, put your GPS on navigation mode and it should get you to within 20-30 feet of the geocache. Once you’re that close, now you’ll need to use brain power and a little “elbow grease” to finish the search. Geocaches are rated on a scale of 1-4 stars for difficulty and terrain, but the ratings are very subjective.

When you find the geocache, sign the log and trade trinkets if it you like. Be sure to put the geocache back exactly how you found it. After you’ve done it for a while, you might be inspired to create and hide your own geocache for others to find.

Why do we like geocaching? With three kids ranging in ages from 7 to 13, it’s a fun activity for all. They are moving their bodies and using a little brain power. Each cache is a little different, which keeps our kids’ interest. My husband also likes the fact it requires technology – a GPS. I love being outdoors with everyone. We hope to see you around the county geocaching this spring and summer. If you see a family of five walking around looking for stuff, it might be us – so stop and say “hi”!

Mary Catherine Domaleski

A native of Fayette County, I am a wife, mother of three, personal trainer, and group fitness instructor. I teach fitness classes professionally at World Gym here in Fayette County, as well as donate time to teach free classes at a number of church-sponsored locations around the area.

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