Daddy Rocks, Feature

Geocaching = outdoor adventure for Dad, kids

0 Comments 02 April 2012

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Photos courtesy Jay Hicks

Spending time outside and finding hidden treasure. A kid’s dream!

Smoke Rise resident Jay Hicks had been talking about treasure hunting with his daughter, Madelaine, when he read an article about geocaching. The two went out to try it a few times using Hicks’ iPhone app. On subsequent searches, younger brother Nicolas joined them.

Geocaching is using GPS-enabled devices to search for geocaches, containers hidden by other players in the game. Geocaches can be found all over the world, in parks, at rest stops, on the side of the road. Almost anywhere you can imagine.

The boxes, which range in size from micro (the size of a film container) to large (a large bucket), contain a log sheet and “treasures.” “The bigger ones are old ammo boxes or Tupperware containers,” says Hicks. “The bigger the caches, the bigger the items.” Hicks and his children have found Matchbox cars, plastic figurines, CDs, a makeup kit.

The rule of the game is when you take something from a geocache, you put something back of equal or greater value. Hicks’ family has a backpack full of knick knacks they use to replace treasures when they find a geocache.

“It’s exciting to be the first one to cache,” Hicks says. “Between my house and office [in Tucker], there’s 15 or 20 hidden. They’re all over the place.”

Hicks, 12-year-old Madelaine and 6-year-old Nicolas have done several hunts in Stone Mountain Park. Hicks estimates there are more than 200 geocaches hidden in the park. “It’s nice because there are a lot of people traveling,” he says.

In addition to treasures, things called trackables are found in geocaches. A travel bug is a “hitchhiker” attached to an item. Travel bugs have goals set by their owners, and move around with the help of geocachers. Geocoins, customizable coins created as kind of a signature item or calling card, function just like bugs.

Hicks and his family found a trackable in a rest area near the South Carolina/North Carolina line. Its owner wants it to be placed somewhere near Notre Dame.

Sometimes the whole family goes geocaching, but it’s mostly Dad with his children. “Now that it’s starting to warm up a little, we’ll start to go more,” Hicks says. During the spring and fall, the trio treks out about every weekend looking for treasure.

While going on these outdoor adventures, the kids are learning about navigation. Madelaine sometimes carries the phone or the geocaching GPS that Dad got for Christmas. Hicks says she has a good sense of direction.

“I’ll let them look and find out which way we need to go. [The GPS] will get you within 5 to 10 feet of the cache,” he says. “And then you start looking.”

Nicolas also has been interested, relating direction to the sun and moon.

The Hicks family hasn’t hidden any geocaches yet, but they have four they are preparing. They have identified two places to put them and once they’re in position, Hicks will enter the coordinates onto the website and wait for the approval. Once it’s approved, it’s published on the site and geocachers can go for it.

Find out more information about geocaching at www.geocaching.com and www.ggaonline.org/gga_home.php.

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