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Geocaching Safe for Kids?

#1 User is offline   countrymouse 

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  Posted 17 June 2007 - 08:21 PM

My kids and I just started geocaching as a cool hobby to occupy them over the summer. They are 9 and 11, and it's been a lot of fun so far. We all love the hunt, and they're getting good with that GPS unit too.

It occurred to me the other day, though, that it might not be safe for them. You never know what you'll find in the woods, or in that cache!

I read some of the posts in the "unusual things found on hunts" thread and it really worried me. We could stumble onto syringes, drug equipment, condoms...someone posted about finding a straight razor blade in a cache!

This makes me wonder if it's a good hobby at all for the younger set and I ought to re-think it.

At the very least, some ground rules are in order. Here are some I can think of, and I'd appreciate additions and comments.

Maybe someone could summarize this and make it a sticky or FAQ, safety tips for caching with kids?

1. Stick to caches in established areas such as parks, cemeteries, monuments and suburban landmarks.
2. Stick to caches that were found and logged within the last week/two weeks.
3. Don't let kids run ahead of you on the trail.
4. Dump caches on the ground instead of reaching in.
5. Make sure someone knows where you're going (leave note in/on car?) and take cell phone with you.
6. Obvious -- bring bug spray, sunscreen, water.

What do you think?

#2 User is offline   StarBrand 

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Posted 17 June 2007 - 08:28 PM

With nearly 600 finds - the worst thing I have ever found is a few loose fishhooks in one cache and a rusty sharp can opener in another. For the most part cache contents are nearly always safe.



Areas around caches: I have seen drug junk several times. Just smart to keep the kids nearby. Out in the woods too - easy to get lost.



Always bring water on longer walks, tell people where you are going, bug spray etc...



It is safe for kids. My 5 year old and 19 month old have gone thier whole lives. If you are not comfortable, your kids shouldn't be there - and neither should you.

#3 User is offline   Renegade Knight 

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Posted 17 June 2007 - 08:36 PM

 countrymouse, on Jun 17 2007, 10:21 PM, said:

...I read some of the posts in the "unusual things found on hunts" thread and it really worried me. We could stumble onto syringes, drug equipment, condoms...someone posted about finding a straight razor blade in a cache!...


Well now. You could avoid caching and your kids will encounter all those things when they are playing in the park without the benefit of you being there to teach them. Or you could go caching and find all those things and be there to teach them. It's not a common occurance on any one of them, but there are enough things to where finding something out there in the world happens all the time.

My comments on your list:

1. Stick to caches in established areas such as parks, cemeteries, monuments and suburban landmarks.
Those are most likely to have condoms, port, needles etc. in or near the cache.

2. Stick to caches that were found and logged within the last week/two weeks.
Those caches are in the busiest areas and closer to town where you are more likely to find the things you wish to avoid.

3. Don't let kids run ahead of you on the trail.
Your call.

4. Dump caches on the ground instead of reaching in.
Look first. Why dump perfectly good things all over the ground unless you see a reason too?

5. Make sure someone knows where you're going (leave note in/on car?) and take cell phone with you.
Always a good idea.

6. Obvious -- bring bug spray, sunscreen, water.
Another good idea.

#4 User is offline   TrailGators 

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Posted 17 June 2007 - 08:45 PM

I would also suggest sticking to finding caches with regular sized containers. Kids like trading for swag!

This post has been edited by TrailGators: 17 June 2007 - 08:46 PM


#5 User is offline   Renegade Knight 

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Posted 17 June 2007 - 08:47 PM

 TrailGators, on Jun 17 2007, 10:45 PM, said:

I would also suggest sticking to finding caches with regular sized containers. Kids like trading for swag!


So very true. My kids refuse to come anymore if there is even one Micro on the list. :o

#6 User is offline   countrymouse 

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Posted 17 June 2007 - 09:29 PM

 Renegade Knight, on Jun 17 2007, 08:47 PM, said:

 TrailGators, on Jun 17 2007, 10:45 PM, said:

I would also suggest sticking to finding caches with regular sized containers. Kids like trading for swag!


So very true. My kids refuse to come anymore if there is even one Micro on the list. :o


Thanks for thoughtful replies. I do tend to get a little paranoid. :(

We're sticking close to home for now -- there are at least 40 caches hidden within two miles of here! We live in a pretty nice area, so I don't expect to find anything nasty, but you never know.

Glad to hear that the stuff on that other thread is so rare.

As for the swag/micro -- my kids love the hunt! The swag we've found so far hasn't been all that great, once my DD didn't even want anything from the cache, but we left stuff anyway. We did find a cool inflatable frog, that was the best.

The hunt is what they enjoy, especially my 9 yo son. Our favorite hunt so far was a multi with 3 clues leading to the cache at the end. You should've seen the grin on his face when we found each clue! Twice I was ready to give up! We never did find the end cache though, which was disappointing and I promised him we could go back. Another favorite cache was a micro near his baseball field. DD and I checked it out during his game but couldn't find it. DS insisted we look after he was done, and wouldn't you know, HE found it! HA! They like finding it and signing their name just as much as trading stuff. And our very first cache was a micro.

We also plan to place some soon. I told them we had to wait till we'd found several more, though, just to learn more about caching first.

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Posted 17 June 2007 - 09:30 PM

Have to agree on the sticking to regular size caches! Our kids HATE micros! :o We just found a micro the other day and had a LONG discussion with our 7 year old about how boring they are. As far as the other rules, I have to agree with Renegade Knight. Anything that makes sense when not caching, make it a "rule". Other than that, don't freak out about what you may find in/near a cache. We have yet to find anything illegal, immoral or dangerous when caching. So just go out there and have fun!

#8 User is offline   Knight2000 

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Posted 18 June 2007 - 05:09 AM

Our kids (9 & 4) don't mind micros too much. After about 6 in a row they kind of wish for a regular though. My son (9) kind of likes them.

Geocaching is a lot safer than letting kids play video games or watch TV. Seriously.

#9 User is offline   Moore9KSUcats 

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Posted 18 June 2007 - 05:35 AM

One thing that some families do is have the parents be the ones to open the cache and do a brief exam of the contents... that way, if there is something not appropriate, they can make the decision to let the kids look or not. There are MANY geocaching families on this website.. it is a great family activity!

We've been caching since 2002, and our kids have been on many hikes with us! When we started, they were 19, 17, 15, and 10. They all love it and know there are idiots out there that do dumb stuff (drugs, etc.).

Finding those items does give you another chance to talk about the illicit activity that goes on in the world... use it as a teaching moment! Ignoring the bad stuff around you won't make it go away.

That being said, they probably shouldn't go out hunting caches on their own.

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Posted 18 June 2007 - 06:15 PM

 Moore9KSUcats, on Jun 18 2007, 05:35 AM, said:

One thing that some families do is have the parents be the ones to open the cache and do a brief exam of the contents... that way, if there is something not appropriate, they can make the decision to let the kids look or not. There are MANY geocaching families on this website.. it is a great family activity!

We've been caching since 2002, and our kids have been on many hikes with us! When we started, they were 19, 17, 15, and 10. They all love it and know there are idiots out there that do dumb stuff (drugs, etc.).

Finding those items does give you another chance to talk about the illicit activity that goes on in the world... use it as a teaching moment! Ignoring the bad stuff around you won't make it go away.

That being said, they probably shouldn't go out hunting caches on their own.


I wholeheartedly agree. Wrapping kids in cotton wool and shielding them from what goes on in the world will not prepare them for life.

Granted things are different from when I was young (in the 60s), but there were still bad guys around then and my parents brought me up to be aware of the world around me and to embrace the good and be wary of the bad. If you don't know one from the other that's not so easy.

I have found that Geocaching has encouraged me to re-visit many of my childhood haunts and I have even placed caches in some of them to encourage others, preferably with their kids, to get out and about in the great outdoors where I live.

#11 User is offline   poohstickz 

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Posted 18 June 2007 - 06:48 PM

When I was 9 and I used to find needles and condoms in the park I used to think "Oh, there's some needles and some condoms, now where did I leave my bike?" -- Your kids may quite likely be more resiliant than you think and, quite frankly, my parents and those of my childhood friends, would have been delighted for us to have hobbies as safe and innocous as Geoaching actually is.

#12 User is offline   frivlas 

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Posted 18 June 2007 - 06:55 PM

We have been caching for the last 2 years with our boys who are now 5 & 7. We cache in urban and rural areas. For the first time 2 weeks ago, I spotted a needed in the bushes in the middle of town. I've spotted condoms and other icky things as well, and the kids know not to touch anything unless we give they ok. They love collecting cans and bottles to recycle, but always ask before they touch them. When we come to the cache, they help look for it but know not to open it, we will do it for them. Amazingly, they don't seem to find micros. The 7 year old proudly led us to and located a keyholder under a bench the other day. It's all about the smiley...theirs.

#13 User is offline   LaTuFu 

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Posted 18 June 2007 - 07:27 PM

My 8 year old hunts with me, and he loves it. Add another small one that hates micros. Although its parental instinct to want to keep our kids safe, there's a fine line between being protective and preventing our kids from learning how to survive in the world.

I'd much rather my son saw needles or used condoms on a hike with me. When he saw my reaction (which would be virtually no reaction, other than to calmly tell him to stay away from something in the unlikely event he started to reach for it.) Kids learn how to handle situations by watching us. If we make a big deal out of it, they will learn to make a big deal out of it. Then when he is exposed to it again sometime in the future, out with friends, whatever, hopefully he absorbed the lesson and its no big deal.

Not that you want to rush out and expose them to every bad situation you can find, but better they see more aspects of society with you than without you.

#14 User is offline   briansnat 

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Posted 18 June 2007 - 08:46 PM

The most dangerous thing that I ever found in a cache in 570+ finds was a shot glass that had shattered.

Your drive to the cache will probably be more dangerous than anything you find in a cache.

I'd say the only precaution necessary would be for you to open the container and check out the goods before
handing it over to the kids.


As Renegade Knight pointed out, you are most likely to find the icky stuff around the more popular urban and suburban caches.

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Posted 19 June 2007 - 07:32 AM

967 cache finds and the most obnoxious thing I've found in a cache is religious material. I **WISH** there had been geocaching when my kids were young. I think it's a wonderful family activity.

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Posted 19 June 2007 - 07:59 AM

I like to tell people "I don't have kids... I am my only child". But there has been good advice here. We frequently see the idea that kids don't open containers, parents do... which I think is probably a good move. As far as the "things found while caching" post, that post probably also contains a certain element of "you found that... I found something even weirder!" so the stories don't contain the most common things found, but the most extreme things found. As for me, I've found the condoms, I found what looked to be a jailhouse style "shank" built out of a piece of foam some wire and a sharp piece of metal, but most of what I find is broken glass and trash (which we like to help with through CITO). Teaching kids to leave a place cleaner than they found it is a great lesson! Considering where I've been caching lately, I've been more concerned about Ticks and Rattlesnakes than needles and drug paraphernalia. Don't let those stories scare you off. Common sense is the key.

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Posted 19 June 2007 - 09:04 AM

We just started doing geo cashing and have been taking our three yr old and 7 month old boys with us on all of them. Our older son thinks of it as his own treasure hunt. Great opportunity for teachable moments even with a three yr old. We are keeping to the basics like watch where you walk, stay with a grown up, follow directions and sharing. We have great fun as a family and in todays society we feel that is key. Too many families seem to be consumed with TV, Video games, and cell phones. If you are just getting out there and spending time as a family you have done something good by your children.

#18 User is offline   flask 

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Posted 19 June 2007 - 11:53 AM

remember that geocaching is not an activity FOR kids. there's no reason why kids shouldn't play, though. you just have to be selective about which caches you visit, and you have to supervise them closely. since you don't know if there's a hidden ledge nearby or a razor in the cache, you probably want to be first to check out the terrain and first to open the container.

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Posted 19 June 2007 - 12:09 PM

I have six kids and we take them all the time. We love it and they love it. It is a great thing to do with kids. Its _way_ better than watching TV!!

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Posted 20 June 2007 - 08:18 AM

 countrymouse, on Jun 17 2007, 09:21 PM, said:

My kids and I just started geocaching as a cool hobby to occupy them over the summer. They are 9 and 11, and it's been a lot of fun so far. We all love the hunt, and they're getting good with that GPS unit too.

It occurred to me the other day, though, that it might not be safe for them. You never know what you'll find in the woods, or in that cache!

I read some of the posts in the "unusual things found on hunts" thread and it really worried me. We could stumble onto syringes, drug equipment, condoms...someone posted about finding a straight razor blade in a cache!

This makes me wonder if it's a good hobby at all for the younger set and I ought to re-think it.

At the very least, some ground rules are in order. Here are some I can think of, and I'd appreciate additions and comments.

Maybe someone could summarize this and make it a sticky or FAQ, safety tips for caching with kids?

1. Stick to caches in established areas such as parks, cemeteries, monuments and suburban landmarks.
2. Stick to caches that were found and logged within the last week/two weeks.
3. Don't let kids run ahead of you on the trail.
4. Dump caches on the ground instead of reaching in.
5. Make sure someone knows where you're going (leave note in/on car?) and take cell phone with you.
6. Obvious -- bring bug spray, sunscreen, water.

What do you think?

You forgot these:

7. Make sure your children donít attempt to juggle two cobras and a mongoose.
8. Donít let your children chew glass
9. Donít sleep on a red ant nest

Sheesh

#21 User is offline   Kit Fox 

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Posted 20 June 2007 - 08:26 AM

Most of the items on your list are common sense items, and a vigiliant parent is what is needed most.

Be careful leaving notes on your car, telling the whole world that you've gone hiking. A Burglar would see this note and break into your car, after all, they know your way up the trail.

#22 User is offline   admo1972 

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Posted 20 June 2007 - 08:26 AM

Quote

1. Stick to caches in established areas such as parks, cemeteries, monuments and suburban landmarks.


Just to add to that, you may want to avoid some virtual caches unless you are sure that they are safe. This weekend I headed out on my own to a virtual cache, and it was amazing! Walking up a wooded trail, up up up, and the location all of a sudden appeared as a breathtaking view from the top of the mountain! It was also at the sudden edge of the tall cliff. dogs and small children could easily topple over the edge.

#23 User is offline   whistler & co. 

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Posted 21 June 2007 - 04:00 AM

 countrymouse, on Jun 17 2007, 08:21 PM, said:

My kids and I just started geocaching as a cool hobby to occupy them over the summer. They are 9 and 11, and it's been a lot of fun so far. We all love the hunt, and they're getting good with that GPS unit too.

It occurred to me the other day, though, that it might not be safe for them. You never know what you'll find in the woods, or in that cache!

I read some of the posts in the "unusual things found on hunts" thread and it really worried me. We could stumble onto syringes, drug equipment, condoms...someone posted about finding a straight razor blade in a cache!

This makes me wonder if it's a good hobby at all for the younger set and I ought to re-think it.

At the very least, some ground rules are in order. Here are some I can think of, and I'd appreciate additions and comments.

Maybe someone could summarize this and make it a sticky or FAQ, safety tips for caching with kids?

1. Stick to caches in established areas such as parks, cemeteries, monuments and suburban landmarks.
2. Stick to caches that were found and logged within the last week/two weeks.
3. Don't let kids run ahead of you on the trail.
4. Dump caches on the ground instead of reaching in.
5. Make sure someone knows where you're going (leave note in/on car?) and take cell phone with you.
6. Obvious -- bring bug spray, sunscreen, water.

What do you think?



I think we are probably remiss as parents! We have been caching since Little Whistler was 3 years old, and basically only worry about getting hit by cars, falling off cliffs, and ticks. Maybe we're survived thanks to pure dumb luck, but it would never occur to me to dump a cache out to make sure there's nothing bad in it (the worst we found was a glass bong in an old cache that had not had owner maintenance in about 2 years), or to leave a note in the car, or to stick to parks and suburban landmarks. When we're a mile and a half down the trail and encounter fresh bear poop, it does sometimes occur to me that we should have brought the .45, but other than that, I'm more worried about the creepy guy who lives down near the kids' bus stop than I am about the potential for bad stuff happening while caching. Of course, Little Whistler's new favorite song is by Marilyn Manson, so we may be remiss in a real wide variety of ways! :ph34r:

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Posted 22 June 2007 - 04:21 AM

My stepkids have been caching for as long as I have and we've never had a problem. Once in the woods we came across a mattress and empty beer cans and possibly more questionable things (I didn't look too closely), and the kids were quite indignant about all this "trash" in the woods. We later had a CITO event there.

Never found anything like what you describe in a cache. While I don't necessarily disbelieve that such things are found in caches, it's extremely rare, and I wouldn't stop caching because of it.

On the other hand, the first respondant was correct: if you feel unsafe, that will translate itself to your children. Maybe you should take up an indoor hobby with them instead.

-- Jeannette

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Posted 22 June 2007 - 07:06 AM

I think Geocaching is a great start for some "real world" education. Yes, if you're going to search for urban park caches in any major city, you have the potential to run across drug paraphanalia. The lesson to be learned, don't stick your hands into places you can't see into. If you're geocaching in the woods, this is a great time to learn some survival skills (just in case).

DCC

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Posted 23 June 2007 - 02:41 AM

I often geocache with my kids. It's a great family activity and while it may be possible to see some of the items you mentioned, I see it as more of a rare occurance. I've never seen needles, although a couple of times I've seen condoms, especially where parking is off in the woods a bit. I don't think my kids even noticed it, and while I noticed, I just made sure to steer clear of the area.

Once I took them to an urban style cache, and got back in the car and left without searching because of all the trash.

Mostly, though, I've been able to show my children amazing things outside like beautiful waterfalls, beaches I never knew of, beautiful nature preserves, many species of birds and butterflies, and other wildlife. I see it as a great way to spend some quality time together!

#27 User is offline   mamid 

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Posted 24 June 2007 - 09:00 AM

my kids hate micros too. but micros seem to abound in the urban settings. So why in my mostly rural area are there no caches bigger than a small?

So I refuse to put out micros even though I have two micros and a nano sitting in my desk...

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Posted 24 June 2007 - 04:36 PM

 countrymouse, on Jun 17 2007, 08:21 PM, said:

My kids and I just started geocaching as a cool hobby to occupy them over the summer. They are 9 and 11, and it's been a lot of fun so far. We all love the hunt, and they're getting good with that GPS unit too.

It occurred to me the other day, though, that it might not be safe for them. You never know what you'll find in the woods, or in that cache!

I read some of the posts in the "unusual things found on hunts" thread and it really worried me. We could stumble onto syringes, drug equipment, condoms...someone posted about finding a straight razor blade in a cache!

This makes me wonder if it's a good hobby at all for the younger set and I ought to re-think it.

At the very least, some ground rules are in order. Here are some I can think of, and I'd appreciate additions and comments.

Maybe someone could summarize this and make it a sticky or FAQ, safety tips for caching with kids?

1. Stick to caches in established areas such as parks, cemeteries, monuments and suburban landmarks.
2. Stick to caches that were found and logged within the last week/two weeks.
3. Don't let kids run ahead of you on the trail.
4. Dump caches on the ground instead of reaching in.
5. Make sure someone knows where you're going (leave note in/on car?) and take cell phone with you.
6. Obvious -- bring bug spray, sunscreen, water.

What do you think?



First, take the kids caching if the group of you all enjoy it.

You can find any of the things mentioned on many city playgrounds as well. You can only go so far in shielding your children, then you must allow them to learn. Use the experiences as teaching moments, what it is, that there are some really irresponsible and sick persons out there, and the proper thing to do is........

With youngsters that age, you will be screening your caches to that sort of cache anyway. If you see one that looks interesting and you have doubts, email the hider though their profile and ask questions (explain that you will have youngster with you).

Keeping the youngsters within eyeshot is always a good idea anyway. Staying in a group is safer for all.

The cell phone should always be on your person. Note on car would only tell the bad guys where to look for you, you can tell someone that when you call.

Take a trash bag or shopping bag with you, dump caches into it. Easier to find small items there than on the ground, easier to tie it off and take inappropriate items out (CITO) without having to touch them.

Be safe and have fun.

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