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Kids And Geocaching


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We are thinking about getting GPS units for our nieces and nephews (age 5 - 10) for Christmas. The idea being that they could spend some family time together outside and start developing navigation and mountaineering skills. My question is whether they would be able to operate a GPS (with some parental assistance). Does anyone out there have any experience geocaching with kids this age?


Also, our preference would be to buy GPSs with more features (like maps) that they could grow into. We played with an eTrex Legend at the sporting goods store and I found it a little complicated, but the kids have no trouble figuring out video games, so maybe they could use it.


We'd appreciate any thoughts/opinions.... Thanks!

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i have let both my 5 year old and 10 year old boys use my etrex venture and they both have led us to the cache. Obviously there is only so much a 5 year old could comprehend with the unit but understood the basic jist of things. My 10 year old likes to use it and now usually backtracks us to the car, he has defineately learned how to use the GPSr. Next is using with the paper maps.

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My 8 & 10y olds can work their way around a GPS just fine. The younger two (6 & 4), not a chance.


Is mapping necessary for them at this age, and/or at what point to they grow into something like that?


We are down to one GPS for the time being, and it does do mapping. The kids are sometimes humored to watch it as we're driving down the road (It's a Garmin GPS V and does autorouting) but when we're getting out of the car to find a cache, the mapping, for us, is relatively useless. Just give them the bearing, distance to the cache and they're off.


I had thought to buy another unit for the kids and while I've currently decided against it, I would get them something in the 'base' Magellan Sporttrak line just to have the quad helix antenna. (Although I know my 10y old would get quite a kick out of a Rhino!)




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Although I have no direct experience with kids and GPSs, I do have a couple nieces and a nephew in the same age range. I think the older kids would have no problem with the GPSr itself, and with some adult help, can quickly learn how to navigate on their own.


As for the features, my instinct would be to get them a rugged basic model, like a SporTrak or Etrex basic, or a Geko 101. If they can survive a couple years, they can then be handed down to the younguns, while the older kids move on to more advanced models.


Maybe you could get them all compasses as an additional stocking stuffer, and teach how to use them.

Edited by xenophon10k
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I just purchased a Garmin Etrex for my 10 year old daughter. She has no problems using it. She does everything from downloading the coordinates from EasyGPS to manually inputting coordinates.


Actually, since she got her own GPSr she has become more interested in geocaching and is more excited about going with me when I go.

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I introduced my niece and nephew to geocaching this summer. They are around the ages you mentioned, the older one gets it. The younger one ??? well, I don't think she understands the GPS part that well. I'd say get a Gecko, by the time they grew into a better unit it would be outdated. They can always pass the gecko on to a new cacher.


A pair of Rhinos would be very cool though, could get you the title of favorite aunt/uncle. :rolleyes:

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I bought a Geko 201 for people to use when they go caching with me. My 11 year old cousin is the person who caches with me almost 100% of the time and he loves it. The size of unit is great for a child, and the colour is attractive as well.


He understands it pretty well, I do all the downloading the waypoints into the unit though, but he can add waypoints for stages of multi caches. He can navigate the screens, and get the bearing and distance. When he is within about 50-100 feet he turns it off and puts it away. "It's better just to look" he says. (I however use my GPS unitl the last ten feet.) :rolleyes: I have also let my parents and grandparents use the Geko. They all have found it relatively easy to use. It is simple, but it has alot of neat features.


I use a SporTrak Map for my personal GPS, and the Geko 201 keeps up with it perfectly. In fact the Geko 201 acquires and holds signals better in tree cover then my ST Map does most of the time. I got the Geko 201 for $90 on ebay a couple months ago, and the ST Map I got on ebay last year for $110. You could probably find them cheaper. Both low price units. Both great for caching. :unsure:


He also has his own travel bug, his own pack, his own stuff to trade, and his own cache pending approval! The easiest way to get kids totally psyched about caching is to get them their own gear.

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:rolleyes: put me on your christmas list?!?!?!?! sounds like a wonderful gift if they can appreciate it at thier age. oh, and i agree- with the rhino they could use the radio at least until they got proficient with the map reading (if they are anything like my nephew, they'll be showing you how to use it by the end of the day; some kids are really pretty whippy these days.) Edited by escarg0t
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Our twin 6 year olds love to go cacheing and are learning to use our SportrakMap unit with our supervision.


They are quite capable of simply following the arrow. They are learning the finer arts, now, of deciding when to bushwhack and when not too or to look for a better way to get to where it is pointing than wading though a stream simply to stay on a bee line indicated by the arrow. They also become frusrtrated when the unit is trying to catch up with a position or when it is confused because they move to quickly.


With some supervision a GPSr unit would be a useful gift for children of the ages you mention. It would lack the immediate gratification of other types of toys, however. It depends on the kids.


Happy Holidays, Everyone!

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Our 8 year old daughter and our 11 year old son have no problems operating our Garmin Legend. They are quite familiar inputting coordinates and even projecting waypoints when necessary. Our 6 year old daughter is really good at holding the unit and pointing the way to the cache. :rolleyes:


I think it's really good to get kids using the GPSr and they catch on to it really quickly and by including them in the process to find the cache, they seem to enjoy the experience even more.



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Oh, yeah...kids like caching. I'm a kid, and I love it! Believe it or not, I'm usually the one who eggs my dad on to go hunting on Saturday, and almost 100% of the time, I print out & log the caches (& post on the boards). My little brother, however, is has a waning interest in the activity, as he's not always the one who finds it.

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I think you should teach your children more about classic navigation. Using maps, using compass, recognize heading or find back track without extra units. GPS is really great thing, but I do not trust at all (empty batteries, lost signal, system error.. )



Edited by bxhome
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I have a gecko and my 5 year old daughter can and has found caches with it, with my help putting in the coordinates.She loves to cache and we are going to hide one of her x-mas presents in the field out behind our house and let her find it with the gps.we are going to wrap the coordinates in a box from santa and let her go on her hunt for the gift that she wants the most, a green machine bike.

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Since your goal is to develop the kids' outdoor navigation and mountaineering skills, I'd recommend starting them out with map and compass rather than GPSr. Sort of like learning to add before relying on a calculator. Don't get me wrong, I think kids can do fine with a GPSr - my 8-year-old uses my Geko when we geocache - and I think it would be a great gift, at least for the 10 year old. It's just that you say your goal is to develop outdoor navigation skills, and I think map and compass is a much better approach to that goal. 5 years may be a bit young though.


Best Regards.

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Thanks everyone for your thoughts! Yesterday I ordered 4 geko 201s and 4 compasses. I also got a couple of books on map and compass navigation. We'll be together for a week over the holidays, so we can get them started and hopefully their parents will take over from there. I agree that this may be a little much for the 5 year old, but have learned from experience not to leave him out. He tries hard to keep up with the "big kids" and would feel left out if everyone but him had a gpsr. Happy Holidays Everyone! Thanks again for your help! :ph34r:

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We just bought a Garmin eTrex (yellow) for my 8 yr old. The Magellan 310 will go to the 5 yr old until she can master that one and then we'll get here a eTrex-yellow also. The Garmin eTrex Legen stays with dad (or mom if she asks nicely...). Like others have mentioned, I've found that the kids get into it more when you look at where you are going first on a map and give them a general feel for where we are going. In addition, we don't often use the arrow for navigation, rather we use the coordinates of the cache and our current location to determine which direction we need to go. The kids compare where we are with where we need to be and by using their compasses can tell us which direction we need to go. It's pretty cool to let the kids lead, make some mistakes, learn from the experience and finally land right at the cache... Takes a little more time, but the kids get ownership in the process then. ;-)

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