For a great way to have fun with your kids, get them outside and physically active try Geocaching, Letterboxing, and Questing. These outings are great for all ages that you can do anytime and anywhere. When you complete it you may get a prize or learn something, and, best of all, your kids will not know they are exercising their bodies and brains!
Geocaching is a high-tech treasure hunt with caches hidden all over the world. Once you create a free account on the website geocaching.com or groundspeak.com you can enter your location (city, zip code, latitude and longitude) and you will get a list of all the caches in the area to choose from. Each clue gives coordinates you can enter into a GPS (global positioning satellite) receiver or Google the coordinates and let it lead you to the vicinity of the cache. Once there, you need to unscramble the clues to pin point where the cache is. There are several different types of caches but many are in containers that may be camouflaged to blend into their surroundings. Inside will be a logbook to sign and it might also contain various inexpensive trinkets for trade, or lead you to an historic or natural landmark. Items to bring include a pen, GPS (optional), tchotchkes to trade, and anything you would bring on a hike.
Letterboxing combines elements of orienteering, art, and puzzle solving. Letterboxers hide boxes in publicly accessible places (like parks) and distribute clues to finding the box. Individual letterboxes usually contain a notebook and a rubber stamp. Finders make an imprint of the letterbox's stamp, either on their personal notebook or on a postcard, and leave an impression of their personal stamp on the letterbox's "visitors' book" as proof of having found the box and letting other letterboxers know who has visited. To get started, check on the letterboxes in your area at www.atlasquest.com. You will need a rubber stamp, pen, small sketchbook, ink pad, a compass, and the clues.
Questing is a game-like adventure played across a community or geographic place. Clues have a starting point that lead to various sealed boxes in a specific order to be found until you reach the final prize. Participants work as a team to gather these hidden clues as they meaningfully connect with both familiar and unfamiliar places engaging in activities that hone their senses and invite deeper looking and thinking.
Here are FREE local, kid friendly quests to get you started:
- Muir Woods Quest is perfect for any child learning to count to 20 and ABC's while discovering the magic of this beautiful redwood forest. My 9 year old loved doing it with her 5 year old friend. Make a left at the first bridge to start. If you forget your copy, ask for the “Redwood Discovery” guide.
- Crissy Field Mystery Trail Challenge, is a history mystery unlocking the military, natural and cultural history of Crissy Field. Pick up a free copy of the “Mystery Trail Challenge” at the Warming Hut.
- The Presidio in San Francisco offers a wide variety of self-guided programs, quest adventures, geocaches and more.
- Nature Treasure Hunt is a great way to help your kids connect to nature and you do not have to travel far.
Companies that offer treasure hunts:
- URBIA Adventure League, is the best one specifically designed for families. Download a free activity sample for “Where the Green Dragon Grows” at Green Gulch Farm & Zen Center. Quests booklets are also available for purchase on their website and they are a lot of fun.
- Mastermind Hunts, have created some great hunts where you solve a series of fun and slightly more challenging clues as you find your way to often overlooked spots. Golden Gate Bridge and Pier 39 are two free samples to check out. Other hunt are available for purchase on their website.
- City Clues Adventures & Tours
- Mr. Treasure Hunt
- San Francisco Treasure Hunts
These real life adventures are a great way to inspire future stewards of the world to new places, new activities and/or discover the history of your area all while building fun memories your child will never forget. Get out and create your own adventures; the fun awaits just outside your door.