~ by Corinne Muffly, Educator ~
This is the first in a series of articles dedicated to helping parents find places and activities on Nantucket to enjoy with their children.
In the age of technology, I believe it’s appropriate to begin our family excursions with geocaching. What exactly is geocaching? It is just like an old school treasure hunt!
Using your smartphone, download the free Geocaching app and enter your location. There are geocaches all over, but the ones with the best views are right here on Nantucket. It will bring you to a map of our little island. You will notice different colored dots. The dark green dots are free geocaching locations and all other colors require an updated version. There are over twenty free geocaching locations here! I am new to geocaching so I spent some time discovering all that the app had to offer.
Navigating the app:
Once you click on a dot it brings you some details about the location with the attainable geocache. There is a brief description of the location and what the hot spot has to offer, from views of trails to even a little history about the location. In addition, there is information about the level of difficulty when searching for the treasure. The terrain is listed too and is set on a scale of zero to five, five being the most difficult. You can also gage how long the hunt will take according to how many miles away the geocache is from the start. Another fun element is the size of the geocaches. Medium might be a shoebox and small might be a sandwich box. If you absolutely need it there may be hints to help you along your way while hunting. My favorite part of the Geocaching app is the log. When you find the booty you get to brag about it in the log by stating that you found the cache and you can comment about your journey too.
I recently went geocaching at Tupancy Links, which is on the north side of the island with excellent views of Nantucket Sound from the bluff and long, winding walking trails. As a new mom, I decided to go with my seven-monthold son and some friends. The first hurdle I came upon was walking through the entrance of Tupancy with my jogging stroller. It didn’t fit! Next time I bring my son, I plan on using a baby carrier. Tupancy is a typical place I would take my dog and let her frolic through the field, so this geocache is dog friendly! The app’s description of the terrain informed me of that as well. Opening up to the Geocache app to a map and pushing the start arrow, I began my search! On the bottom of the screen are coordinates and the number of feet you are from your destination. As we walked along the path we noticed the number growing and shirking, as we got farther away then closer. The level of difficulty was a one, the terrain was 1.5, and the geocache was small. We thought we had this in the bag! After some trial and error, we came close enough to our find that it was no longer in the hands of our app, but in the eye of the beholder. We curiously searched our surroundings until I spotted my very first geocache! I will not tell you where or how, but it is there and it was exciting.
Once you find the geocache, there are a few things you must do. You must bring an item to place in the container in order to take an item from the container, you can also sign the logbook inside the container, and then place the geocache back exactly how you found it. There are all sorts of trinkets inside, just like a treasure hunt! You also need to log that you found the geocache on the app and it is marked with a smiley face on your map, which is a very rewarding feeling I might add. Mission accomplished!
Remember to charge your cell phone, watch for poison ivy, wear sunblock and bug spray, and check for ticks. You should also try and remember to bring a pen because more than likely, there will not be one in the container for you to sign the logbook with. Happy Geocaching!