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Ranger Rick’s Geocache Trails update

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Ranger Rick’s Geocache Trails update

Hiding geocaches is fun but tricky

This summer, I took my sons to parks in our area in search of treasure — geocaches. We also placed several geocaches of our own to create a Ranger Rick Geocache Trail for other families to find. There are Ranger Rick Geocache Trails across the country, and I wanted to be a part of bringing families outdoors and doing the wildlife and nature activities found inside the caches. Geocaching is fun for families, and getting kids outside is something the National Wildlife Federation tries to do with its Be Out There and Green Hour programs.

It’s been great to be a part of the Be Out There Founding Mothers and to create a trail of geocaches that are geared toward kids. Hiding the caches has been tricky, though.

My original plan was to put all eight caches in a large regional county park. But I quickly found out through the volunteers who approve of new caches that caches need to be at least a tenth of a mile apart from one another. There were already several caches there, so I had to remove and replace all but one of my caches.

Then I decided to find other area parks that have playgrounds so a visit to the park would be extra appealing to kids. I even downloaded a geocaching app to help me see if a potential hiding spot was close to someone else’s. I hid several of the Ranger Rick caches in area parks, always with my boys, who had fun on our treasure-hiding outings. One time, we even found a burrowing owl nest and saw two owls! But once again, volunteers who approve of new caches told me some of my hides were near other caches that were either part of a multi-part cache, the real location of a puzzle cache or a cache available only to paying members (all types that wouldn’t show up as too close in the app).

Eventually, I was able to find places to hide all eight geocaches, but it took several tries. I live in an area where green space is at a premium, and geocaching has become popular. Nearly every park I had my sights on already had a geocache in place.

A bigger frustration is that half of my geocaches have already been muggled. That’s a geocaching term for stolen by people who aren’t geocachers (presumably). If a muggle comes across a cache and ignores the note inside to please put it back because it’s part of a game, and instead takes the cache away from the site, then cachers won’t find it. Unfortunately, the eight-cache Ranger Rick Trail I placed included stamps for kids to collect on a Passport (worksheet) as they made their way to all eight caches — and now kids will be able to collect only four stamps and won’t be able to finish their Passports.

Despite the trials of creating a geocaching trail, I know it’s been worth it. Every time a family finds one of the geocaches, they post on the cache’s board online about their experience finding it. Sometimes they include photos of their kids doing the Ranger Rick activities or having fun. A couple times, someone took friends on their first geocaching hunt and found these caches. Other times, people who have found the caches report the wildlife they saw or other things they enjoyed about finding it. So, my goal has been accomplished: Families are outside having fun.

Find details on how to find other Ranger Rick Geocache Trails, or learn more about geocaching here.

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