Geocaching Can Make Your Kids Better Adults

 

Categories: Geocaching News Geocaching with Kids

 

A report in the Sydney Morning Herald suggests that the over-protectiveness of parents and allure of technology means kids are missing out on the benefits of interacting with nature. According to health expert Griffin Longley, from Nature Play WA:

That had contributed to 14 per cent of Western Australian children developing a mental health disorder and 24 per cent being overweight or obese.

I’m quite surprised the numbers are that low, however they are still far too high.

“The average Australian primary school kid spends less than two hours outside, that includes weekends and school holidays,” Mr Longley said.

“Our childhood used to be an outdoor, imaginative, free-ranging experience. [Today it’s] an indoor, sedentary experience.

“It’s a dramatic change that’s really only happened in this generation and there are all sorts of ramifications with that.”

I spent most of my childhood outside having and getting myself into, and out of, trouble. I think I was lucky that the personal computer age began during my childhood so I got to enjoy the best of both worlds.

But Mrs Cumbyrocks and I have concerns for our own, already highly computer savvy and slightly geek-ish kids. Our five year old will get straight out of bed and turn the computer on unless we are up and tell him not too!

Mr Longley said there was an obvious spark among children who regularly played outside.

“When you meet them, their eyes are just that little bit brighter and a bit more engaged,” he said.

“You can tell … which ones do it and which ones don’t.”

And the same with adults, I would add.

“A great deal of evidence shows that early exposure of children to free, unstructured play in nature before the age of 12 develops a lifelong fascination, care and respect for the environment.

“Immersion in natural landscapes, such as forested areas, also promotes a sense of awe, wonder and an appreciation of the ‘magic’ of nature in children.”

Of course, this is where geocaching comes in and gets the kids off the couch and out into nature. The article even goes on to mention it:

Mr Longley said initiatives to get kids outside could not compete with technology and were often incorporating the two.

A global GPS treasure hunt called geocaching is an example of how technology-savvy kids can still get outdoors. The game involves participants using their GPS or mobile phone to find caches hidden by other players in their neighbourhood.

“That’s a way that kids and their parents can get out an engage in their environment around them,” Mr Longley said.

“It’s using technology that helps maintain kids’ interest.”

Which is very reassuring, especially for those of us who live in apartments and don’t have easy access to outdoor spaces.

We are very fortunate that the game combines the ‘best of both worlds’, which is possibly a reason I like it so much – it resonates with my childhood.

I’ve certainly had my kids way into the outdoors with it and they have had a lot of experiences they probably wouldn’t have otherwise had with nature. It even led me to purchase pocket guides for the identification of birds and native trees so I can be sure of what I am telling the kids.

It also makes me think we need work at to keeping geocaching interesting for the kids. Letting them take control of the GPS or having one of their own certainly helps. But more importantly it tells us that we need to keep quality swag in decent-sized caches out there.

There seems to be a thought in some circles that just a container and log book will do. Just look at the Munzee craze. But I would challenge you to show me a young kid who really likes Munzee.

The motivation of knowing there is a treasure trove at the end of the walk keeps the kids going out into areas that are not as comfortable as sitting on the couch or playing on the computer.

 
 



 

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