Growing up I used to take part in sponsored walks with St John Ambulance which were about 17 miles long, these walks took us across the North Downs of Kent through villages such as Cuxton, Meopham and Vigo. Since becoming a Scout leader I have organised small 5 to 8 mile walks for my cub pack in and around Dartford and Darenth, and even Eastbourne, but what I have discovered from many of these walks is that children get bored and tired easily with the adults spending the whole time saying things like “keep up”, “stop lagging behind”, “come on, not far to go”! And then the experience becomes a chore rather than something enjoyable.
So one really hot April day in 2011, I decided to try my theory out. I had already plotted the co-ordinates of 14 geocaches on to my OS map (just in case the iPhone free app decided not to work), loaded my geokids into the car with plenty of food and drink and headed out to the Cooling Crawl Series by MizMazMoz. We were then joined by my muggle sister, as she loves walking too.
We didn’t have much luck to start with and I put this down to being “newbies”, we spent ages going round & round in circles at the first 3 cache spots. Checking every tree, every knobbly nook & cranny, every gap, every root, every bit of ivy, getting stung and stabbed (we quickly learnt that long trousers are a must) and to no avail. By this point the children were starting to get disheartened and hungry. We carried on along the route and found a nice spot to sit and each lunch. Admiring the views and watching the country life pass us by.
Refueled, we set off! Determined not to be beaten by a bunch of little boxes, cunningly hidden. With our renewed spirit, we struck it lucky and found our
first ever cache. The joy, the excitement, the adrenalin rush! Quickly dissipated when we spotted other walkers, we quickly stowed the 35mm canister back in it’s hidey hole and carried on.
The children were much more excited by the next few geocaches and that is where they discovered the joys of swapping (the eldest now specifically looks for lanyards). After 4 finds though, our luck ran out again, while we were looking for another small cache beside a road. The road was much busier than I expected it to be, we spent half an hour looking and once again the girls got bored of hanging around. They had even given up looking.
So as you see, even with geocaching children can still get bored & distracted while walking. However, despite the total walk being between 3-4 miles long and taking us 5 hours to complete, I did notice a change in my daughters. Not once did either of them complain about being tired, hungry or that their legs hurt. They actually really enjoyed themselves. They each had a turn using the map & iPhone, directing us to the next set of co-ordinates and they both really enjoyed working out the hints when we couldn’t find a cache straight away.