Hunting for Treasure

Writer Deb Barnes of Hugo, MN recently posted a humorous article on one of our family's favorite pastimes, here is an excerpt:

For the Neri kids, a visit to grandma Jerrie and grandpa Russ’s place in Hugo has taken on a whole new attraction since August. Chutes and Ladders? Uncle Wiggly? Dominoes? Nope. Three months ago, the grandparents took up treasure hunting, and things will never be the same again. “It’s a delight to have an activity we can all be active in,” says Jennifer Neri. “The kids like it as much as [they do]!”

“My grandma never did this with me!” exclaims Jennifer’s mom, Jerrie Daly, a recent retiree who—like many other kids of all ages around the world—is completely sold on geocaching. Touted as “The sport where you are the search engine,” geocaching could be the best antidote to couch-potato grandkids since Twister...

Three years ago a guy from work introduced me to the hobby of geocaching. "Treasure box hunting" as my older son likes to refer to it, has provided motivation for our family to get outside and explore our surroundings--whether at home or visiting elsewhere. All that is needed to geocache is a handheld GPS unit, coordinates for a cache (posted free online), and the spirit of an adventurer.

First, you look online at sites like Geocaching Website, and obtain the longitude and latitude for some of the hides in your area. Next, enter the coordinates in your GPS and then you are then ready to search for the treasure. Ok, so treasure is maybe a bit misleading in that the caches with hidden containers (some are just virtual) could be anything from a small sheet of paper rolled into a test tube to trinkets hidden in a shoe box-sized container. Once a cache is located, the finder(s) is then permitted take a trinket from the box, as long as something is left in return.

Treasure boxes are hidden worldwide and can be found in forests, urban areas, and even underwater. The older kid loves geocaching and it has allowed us to spend quality time together while discovering trails and other hidden areas close to our residence that we never knew existed (only one local police encounter for us).

I also have a cache that I hid in cooperation with a local historical society that wanted to increase a site's visibility and attract new visitors (near where the photo at the top of this post was taken). In the first 6 months after planting the cache for them, more than 50 individual seekers and families from near and far reported finding it. As Ms. Barnes states, the hobby is an excellent way to involve families in outdoor exercise and reduce couch-potatoism.

Unfortunately, for Hugo, MN this morning, it is a balmy negative eight degrees...