Some things just go together. Coffee and conversation. Warm apple pie and vanilla ice cream. Mashed potatoes and gravy. Wine and cheese.

Even us outdoorsy types like to double up on favorite activities.

Stream fishing and gold panning pair well; prospecting is a great way to fill the time when fish aren’t biting. If you know what to look for, foraging for mushrooms or berries can be a fun addition to hiking.

Black raspberries picked on an evening hike.

One of my favorite additions to almost any outdoor activity is Geocaching.

Geocaching is a worldwide treasure hunting game where participants navigate to a specific set of GPS coordinates and then attempt to find a hidden weatherproof container known as a cache. Caches, hidden by other players, are always located on public-access land. Sometimes they are filled with tiny treasures that geocachers swap with one of their own. Instead of an old pirate map with X marking the spot of the loot, geocachers use a GPS-enabled device, such as a smartphone to find the treasure. Free access to coordinates can be found on the Geocaching app or at geocaching.com.

It is also a great activity to introduce to youngsters. The lessons to be taught are innumerable – navigation, orienteering, problem-solving and patience. There is a bit of stealthiness involved since you don’t want non-geocachers, known as Muggles, to see you uncovering a cache.  If caching in a group, it can be a great team-building exercise.

All while playing outside.

Since I try to instill a little outdoor wonder into the mind of a child whenever I can, I borrowed my friend’s 10-year-old son and we set out to find a few caches.

It didn’t take much to convince him to join me on an adventure. I’ve known this child since he was three days old. He has always been more at home outside than in. He’s an avid fisherman, loves the water and the woods, and prefers sleeping in a hammock to snoozing in his bed.

Geocaching was new to him and I was excited to be part of the introduction. My little partner envisioned finding treasure chests full of gold and jewels. I had to reel him in a bit but he was still on board.

A Geocache somewhere in the western Maine mountains.

We used my phone to note a few nearby caches – they really are everywhere – and set out to see what we could find.

As we came upon the location of our first cache, he looked around to make sure no one else was around and began looking high and low for the treasure. He pushed aside leaves, turned over rocks, and peered inside a hollow stump. He would check the coordinates often to make sure he hadn’t strayed too far.

When he finally located the small box tucked inside a split in a tree, he was ecstatic. “Look, Dee! I found it!”

The reward he chose was a small soccer ball keychain. We replaced it with a bubblegum machine bouncy ball and signed the log.

There was no stopping him now! We spent the next several hours Geocaching. Except for a particularly challenging find, he worked alone. In all, he found six caches that afternoon.

As we walked, we talked about how the leaves would be changing, inspected an unusual looking insect, stuck our feet in a brook and stopped to pick a few wild blueberries. He told me about his friends, school, sports, and his favorite foods.

As we headed back to his house he said, “You were right, there really is treasure everywhere.”

That’s right, Bub, with the right tools and a little time, you can find treasure anywhere.


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