As Annie Dillard says in Pilgrim at Tinker Creek, "the world is in fact planted in pennies." This weekend I discovered that there are actual hidden treasures all around us. They have been there all this time and I just didn't know to look. And so we have a new hobby--we have discovered Geocaching.
I had heard of geocaching before, but it didn't really interest me as it made me think of those agonizing hours spent orienteering as a Girl Guide. I have never really got the hang of map-reading and I am a notoriously bad navigator. However, my kids were getting a little impatient waiting for Pokemon Go to be released in Canada, and when I saw a friend post online about Geocaching with her children, I thought it might fill the void.
We watched a few videos to learn how it works and downloaded the app. I was surprised to learn that many of the caches are actually small containers filled with trinkets that other Geocachers have left behind. We were going to be treasure hunting! The kids were instantly hooked. We made a quick stop at the dollar store so that we would have some items to exchange when we found a cache. We picked up a bag of colourful ping pong balls, stickers and some tea light candles. A pen is also an essential part of a Geocaching kit, as once you find a cache you need to sign the log book, as well as marking it on the app.
My mother came along with us and we looked on the app for nearby caches, and then selected one and started navigation. Our first find was hidden in a old rotted tree stump in a park in the village that I didn't know existed. It was filled with little toys and the children swapped one of their trinkets for something in the container. We carefully put it back where we found it and were off to the next one, down the riverside trail. It was great to get out and explore, and exciting to find another hidden treasure box.
We then went looking for one between a lock and a dam. It was a good opportunity to remind the children of the purpose of the locks, and how they work. We searched and searched, however, this cache remained elusive. I decided to go down closer to the dam. A young couple was fishing down there, and the woman shouted up, "Gotta catch 'em all!" I guess we looked like we were playing Pokemon Go. There was poison ivy everywhere, and so we finally gave up. Geocaching in flip flops is not a good idea.
Over the weekend, Pokemon Go was released in Canada, and I did give in and download the game. So not only is there hidden treasure all around us, there are now tiny little creatures to be caught. Although the children have tried Go a few times, they said they prefer the Geocaching because they can find something real. We went again last night, this time with my mother in law, and searched up and down a trail until it was too dark to see and my cell ran out of batteries. We didn't find the cache, but we will be back again in daylight. The children also want to hide some of their own for others to find. We have found a new community, a circle of friends we may never meet in real life, but who share a common interest. We are getting out and walking and spending time together. This is the treasure; a world of adventures waiting to be discovered with the people we love.