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How do kids start geocaching?

You'll need two things to start: an adult and a GPS receiver. (See the bottom of the page for GPS receivers.) You'll also need to know the coordinates for a local geocache. That you will find at geocaching.com. Read on!

Where is the nearest geocache?

From the geocaching.com home page, you can find all of the thousands of geocaches. Each has its own name and coordinates. In the upper right corner of the homepage is a place to enter your zip code. The results returned will be the closest geocaches. You'll see several columns of information, including one called "Placed" and another called "Description". In between these is a mileage figure. This tells you approximately how far away the cache is from you. Are there any within a couple of miles? That's pretty close!

Which geocache should I pick?

You'll probably want to start with a geocache that is close to your home (or school if you are with a school or scout group). The other consideration is difficulty and terrain. Both are rated from one to five, with five being most challenging. Difficulty refers to how hard it is to find the geocache. Terrain refers to how challenging the terrain is: fairly level ground is a one. Most kids and families should start with geocaches with a 1/1 to 2/2 rating. These are still challenging!

How do I find the geocache?

Once you find a listing for a geocache you want to hunt, click on the [details] link on the far right. Near the top of the details page you will see coordinates (like N 47 42.551 W 122 11.191). You'll need to program these into your GPS receiver. (See your receiver's instructions.) While on the details page, look a few lines below the coordinates and you will see "Use Waypoint such-and-such". You'll use this set of letters and numbers as the name for the waypoint on your receiver. Then you need to go outside, turn on your GPS receiver and find out which way the geocache is from your current location. This is where the adult comes in. You'll probably need a ride. Sometimes there are clues on the details page to help you get in the right vicinity. Once you get as close to the geocache as you can by car, you'll need to hike the rest of the way. Use your GPS receiver to get as close to the geocache as you can. Be patient. You'll probably have to pace around for awhile as the GPS receiver continues to refigure its location. Keep your eyes peeled!

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2001, 2004 Seth! Leary