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6-year Old First Geocaching

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I just bought the eTrex yellow ($99) for doing this with my kids this summer. My 6 year old loves to 'find' things in teh woods (last year he 'found' a lollipop tree with real lollipops growing from the branches :lol: )


Anyway, I would appreciate any advice you can give me. I'm a bit of a techno-nut so I'm hoping the eTrex won't be too confusing for him. Then again, he can take my Nokia 3650, dig through the menus, find the game "Bounce" & play several levels before dying so he's pretty good at figuring stuff out.


Any advice on what the frustrations may be encountered by young-uns doing their first caching? I've read up on the acronyms & such but I think until we've done a test 'cache' there's probably alot I won't do properly.


How about a PC cable. is it ok to pick up a $10 special on eBay or should I stick w/ the Garmin cable? Is a cable really necessary in the beginning? I am thinking that might just complicate things & I'd like to start out w/ simple 'enter the coordinates & go' stuff.


Any 'out of the box' recommendations to change on the eTrex the first time we pull it out?


I am so stoked about this stuff. I know he's going to love it. Our first caching exercies will be in Monroe, La. where my parents live. That should be a hoot.


What a great site. I just love the Internet. ;)

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Yes get the cable. You can dowload the coordinates directly to the GPS.


As far as pitfalls of caching with a 6 year old. Not all caches will be stocked with "treasure". You'll find a few filled with slimy water, and moldy, rusty junk. Read the logs so you hopefully won't be surprized.


Don't try anything too ambitious at first. You can work your way up in terrain and difficulty after some practice on easy ones.


As far as the kid using the unit. You can punch in the coords, hit "go to" and hand it to him. All he has to do is follow the arrow.


As far as settings, it should be find out of the box. Just make the datum is set for WGS84 and the coordinates are using the correct format. HH.DD.DDD I think.

Edited by briansnat
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Use DDD MM.MMM just like www.....

Set to miles not KM's.

Extra Batteries.

Print out the cache pages 17 within zip 71201. A couple of easy 1/1's and a virtual. I think the virt's are interesting when I travel. One special for kid's just reading the names.

Sounds like fun. :lol:

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Thanks Brian. :lol:


I can't wait to start. He doesn't know we've bought him a GPS yet so it will be a surprise on Saturday when we pull it out for him.


I'm thinking of doing the 'first' one near our house to (a) get some knowledge of using the GPS (I'm limited to the NAVI in my Honda Odyssey as for GPS experience) and (:D so I know it will have a good treasure in it. ;) I'm thinking one of those gold dollar coins in a film container would work.


Ooo, I can already tell I'm going to get obsessed with this stuff.


I'll report back here as soon as we do our first one & relay the experience. I might even snap acouple of picks w/ the phone & upload them.

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Thanks Wolf!


Actually I'm going for 71203..but close enough. The one at Moon Lake & the airplane display sound like fun ones. We were planning to hit the airplane exhibit anyway.


So as far as using the PC cable; is there any preferred software to use with it? I'll just be using a standard Dell PC w/ a serial port but didn't know if there was some software better than others to use..or anything special about clicking on the downloadable GPS file & having it send to the unit. I'm so spoiled w/ bluetooth on my phone that going back to serial is going to feel like a giant step backward. :lol:

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If you don't want to go the route of premium membership and the .gpx files, you can do a search on 71203, pick the ones you want and get .loc files. Then, if you get GSAK, you open the .loc file and after configuring it for the etrex, send thru and you are good to go. I didn't get my cable from Garmin, but an internet source (can't remember who) and sending serial takes maybe 20 seconds for 500 caches.

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Thanks again, wolf. GSAK it is. :-)


I'll grab me a cable too. Worst case scenario I go to RadioShack & buy the offiical Garmin one. Just want to have a good time next week and if the cable makes things easier..then I'm all for that. :lol:

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Welcome! My 4 and 6 year olds LOVE geocaching!


Definently start with easy terrains and see what your kid(s) can handle. I also take water and something to eat. On the cache web page, I also click the "decrypt" button, then print it out and take it with us for the hint!

Maybe find a "toy" themed cache? I too, am fairly new and am trying to stick with traditional caches. I don't think my kids would like a virtual cache? Maybe someday.


I have my kids pick out what they want to trade from their pit of toys!


A backpack helps greatly. Bring a camera if possible. TP? :grin:




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Something you might want to be aware of with the Garmin eTrex:


If you want to save on battery life, you can go into the setup menu on the GPS, and then into systems settings (I believe) and set the GPS to "Battery Save" mode. If I remember correctly, this checks the position less often. Works well for me when I am heading towards a cache, and then once I get close, I switch it back to normal mode for a more accurate position.

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:blink: Viva success!


Moon Lake log entry


The log pretty much says it all but we had an awesome first find. Thought it was a total bust; the terrain was HORRIBLE the way we were going, but finding the right path made all the difference.


The eTrex worked great out of the box..it was right over the thing when it said "you're here".


Thanks for all the suggestions & comments (including the tip about extending the gps battery life) so far.


Now I got some serious mud to go clean off my shoes.

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Some points I have found out while geocaching with my 3 and 7 yo:


Virtuals and Micros are not too fun for them yet.


It's often good to check what might be in the cache, in hopes that there will be something they'll like.


The "trading up" concept is sometimes hard to grasp. "No, you can't trade your old Match Box car for the unopened pack of baseball cards." :lol: I often bring something "really good" of my own, just in case something like this comes up. It's better than walking away from a cache with no treasure for your kiddos. But we have had to do that too. B)


Bring food, water, bug spray and sunblock and especially T.P.! Make sure your they know how to go potty in the woods! For girls, it takes practice!


Sometimes kids can become very afraid in the outdoors after dark. It might be a good idea to give up on a cache that's taking you late into the evening, if you think your child might become afraid.


Start with easy ones, to get them addicted! B) Then they will be more likely to hang in there for the harder ones.


and most of all . . . HAVE FUN! Sounds like you have that part down pat!!!

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We've found 8 caches in 3 days...3 micros, a multi-cache that took 2 1/2 hours to find & picked up a travel bug as well. My son wants to plant one before we go back home so we'll see. I should probably slow down before I burn everyone out. Just enthusiastic....




We've done several micros and while not as fun still have been interesting enough to entertain my 6 yr old.

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Wow, it really looks like you have a great ride! Cool! ;)


Some observations from our experience (the kids (my sister-in-law's) being a bit older), most of which I'm sure you will already know but nevertheless here they are:


1) The trade-up/equal thing is really difficult sometimes, as it had been mentioned before. Normally, we urge the kids to bring several different trading items with them, and then we do some negotiation on the value of the take-out vs. the put-in items. Only for emergencies, we also bring a good trading item so we can fill in just in case the trading wishes of the kids are too particular. In the end, that's better than down-trading or to walk away without trading at all (or having to come back to put in something decent).


2) Some caches are really the poor victims of down-trading, which has also been mentioned before. It's no big fun to look through the mouldy broken left-overs in a damp cache-box. For these cases, we have also something in petto, a small suprise gift. If the disappointment about the actual cache content is just too big, then you can pull it out and say, "look here, take this instead. And we leave your stuff in the box so the next one won't be so disappointed." :lol:


3) It is a good idea to have ziplocs with you, so you can give your put-ins a little bit of extra protection against dirt and water.


4) Most of all, and that's what I permanently have to work on: Don't let your personal enthusiasm make you miss the point when your kids are done. After a couple of trips that turn out to be no fun the little ones might loose interest in the whole game. It's better to do several shorter ones and to hear the eager "Where's the next one?" than a tired and bored "When will we there?" every minute on a long hike.


Enjoy yourselves!



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I am sooo glad I found this sport. I am a newbie and from my first find, I was hooked. I have three daughters (ages 9 and 7 year old twins) they LOVE IT. I think it is an incredible hobby for the whole family to enjoy. They are bugging me when can we do it again!

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I think all the best suggestion have already been covered, but I'll put in my .02, anyway.


I GC with my wife and out two kids, a boy 3.75 years old and a girl 6.75 years old. They absolutely love the whole concept and get excited when we set out for a days worth of GCing. To them it is very much about the prizes in the cache, but also being competitive about who can find it first. More often than not one of the grownups finds the cache and then stands aside giving hints and suggestions to let the kids be the "superfinders."


We carry a backpack officially designated the "Geocaching bag." It contains the usual stuff like bug spray and first aid supplies for skinned knees and thorn-torn flesh, but we also throw in a good supply of granola bars and other snacks, plus a couple sports bottles of water. The kids get hungry and thirsty very easily and a fun GC can turn into an unfun experience with a three year old whining "I'm hungry..." every 15 seconds for half an hour.


In the GC bag we also put our items for trade. My wife used to sell tupperware, so we have loads of useful little doodads around from that (toothbrush holders, citrus peelers, mini product keychains, etc.) promotional items from the hospital we both work for (pens, digital thermometers, cap grippers, squeezy balls, etc.) and we regularly take trips to closeout stores and dollar stores to get other good things like extension cords, folding frisbees, flashlights, decks of cards, lip balm, etc. Depending on the quality of what comes out of a cache, we will trade evenly for it. If it is an especially good cache finding-wise, or one that obviously took lots of work (multi-caches) we will often drop in something of greater value as a 'thank you.'


The kids usually poop out earlier than the grownups during a day with 8 or more GCs planned. They don't recover as well from long hikes. We play it by ear. I usually plan out a route around an area with GCs in it, taking into consideration the difficulty and terrain rating, plus reading through logs to guage whether the kids would do well. I try to keep the round trip hike under a mile, if possible. They seem to enjoy more frequent and quicker finds. They also get easily diverted by playgrounds, which seem to be present at a lot of the parks where GCs get placed around here. After the find, we give them 15 or 20 minutes of swinging and sliding and seesawing. This makes them much more agreeable to more GCing. ;)


One of the nicest things about GCing is that it's something healthy the entire family can do together. It can be as hard or easy as you like depending on your energy level and mood. I am in my mid 40s and have/had a lot of health problems in my life. It's only recently that I have gotten them dealt with well enough to attempt something like hiking, so GCing is hiking with a purpose. IT gets me out from behind my computer screen but still allows me to indulge my well-developed affection for gadgets. I started with a used Garmin Etrex LEgend and because of how much use it got, I justified a brand new Garmin GPSMAP 60cs this year.


Best of luck with your searching!



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