Children need to explore their surroundings. Gramma Nettie needs a way to do this. Here are a couple of free activities for families to get into some outside activities. By using some free apps on my smartphone, I can take the grandkids out to explore their environment.
The first one I got involved in was GeoCaching. According to the website,
“Geocaching is the real-world treasure hunt ….”
Players hide containers in hidden locations, and upload GPS coordinates to the website. Finders use the website (www.geocaching.com) to search the map for nearby caches. You can use the coordinates on any GPS device or smartphone to get near the location.
But eventually, the player has to stop looking at the device and start looking at his surroundings. He has to start thinking about where the cache might be. He has to look high. She has to look low. This video explains how it is done:
Be sure to take some sort of small item to trade. It could be a coin, or a bracelet or those rubber bands in the shape of an animal. But don’t put food in, for obvious reasons. Also, take a pen to sign the log book.
This is a very VERY popular sport with about 2.5 million caches worldwide and over 6 million players. Yes, worldwide. I have yet to be in an area without a cache. And to think they’ve been hiding around you all this time!
As an example, check out the Argo Gold cache hidden by one of the counselors. I haven’t found it yet, but I intend to try again soon.
You can take GeoTours in several continents. A few that caught my eye was the Bigfoots Search in Bonneville Washington, the Santa Fe National Historic Trail GeoTour, the Schatzheuterin GeoTour in Germany, the Washington State Parks Centennial GeoTour, Thingsites GeoTour, Dinosaur Train GeoTour, I won’t get to all of them, but they caught my eye none-the-less.
One GeoCacher suggested we adopt a secret hand signal to indicate we are fellow cachers. Read what he has to say here:
Another growing sport is called Munzee. I know, it is an awkward name. It is a variation of the German word for coin, but with an extra “e” added at the end.
This is also a treasure hunt, but without the treasure. Instead, the player uses a free app on her smartphone to find a hidden QR code. She then scans it, which gives the distinctive — and satisfying — “ding” and voila! you have just earned five points.
There are not as many Munzees deployed. In fact, in my own county I have pioneered all but three of the deployments. It is a lonely job, but somebody has to do it.
An interesting Munzee is the Galerie Trinitas near the campus of Great Falls University.
As a player, you can generate QR codes on the website, print them out and laminate them to deploy. Or you could purchase some generic sticker munzees to place out and about. It is a cheap hobby, and I have some of each.
When I deploy munzees, I try to choose a site of interest, or has fascinating history involved. In my city, there is an old hotel, an old bank and other historic buildings. There are also lots of old mining campsites in the mountains.
I have placed munzees at the top of mountain passes, and at some photography sites at the wildlife refuge. All of these are great places to deploy munzees, and then add the historical description on the webpage for everyone to learn. Again, great activity to get the grandkids out and about.
Choose one or choose both, and get out there for new adventures! — Gramma Nettie