We recently had a birthday party for two of our boys. They wanted to do a geocaching theme. If you missed my post a few weeks ago about Geocaching and Letterboxing, you can read it here. Geocaching (pronounced “Geo-cash-ing”) is a form of treasure hunting which relies on a hand-held GPS unit for finding treasure locations.
For the party, I hid favors in plastic boxes with lids. I bought the boxes, as well as most of the favors, at the Dollar store. Some boxes held candy, such as Pez or lollipops, other boxes had toys and trinkets. One box had goggles and splash balls and another had an assortment of treasures to choose from, such as fishing lures, pocket flashlights, baseball cards and $1 hand-held games. We hid 7 caches for this party.
Before the party, my oldest son and I hid the boxes in various places around our neighborhood. We have a lot of woodsy areas in our neighborhood, but I still made sure to mark each cache with a clearly marked sign, reading “Official Birthday Party Geocache”, in case a neighbor found it before the kids. If you were holding a party like this one in a public park this would be even more important, as some official geocache boxes have been mistaken for bombs in the past!
We took care to spread out the hiding places so the kids would have to work to find the treasure. After hiding the box, you stand over the location with the GPS unit and mark the location. Be sure to title it so you can find it later. We just titled each location BP 1 (Birthday party 1), BP 2, and so on.
Continue hiding all the boxes and marking all the locations. By putting all the “way points” into the GPS unit, the kids can just select each way point in order and move independently from one cache to the next. We only have one GPS unit, so the birthday boys took turns looking up the next way point and leading the group to the next cache location.
The children were given a page with encrypted clues, one for each location. Many geocaches have clue sheets like this, so we enjoyed adding that authentic touch. Some of the kids loved hiking around looking for the caches, while others enjoyed pausing to try and solve the puzzles. The clues all had something to do with the hiding place, such as “It will take a miracle to find this one!” for a cache hidden near a bag of Miracle Grow potting soil. My son encrypted the clues, and included this decryption key at the bottom of the clue sheet:
(letter above equals below,
and vice versa)
The GPS unit is accurate to within 50 feet, so there is still some hunting involved even when you get to the location. We hid some of the boxes pretty well, and others were easier to find. The kids had fun looking for the caches, and some of the clues came in handy when a cache could not be immediately spotted.
Everyone was eager to see what was hidden in each cache! The kids each took a paper lunch sack along on their hunt to carry all their treasures in. I put drink boxes in the fourth cache, as I knew they would be getting thirsty by that point. Remind the kids to bring the empty cache boxes back so that you won’t have to retrieve them at the end of the party!
I’m not very crafty, but I tried to make the cake look like our hand-held GPS unit.