Meet the Pedersen family. A little over a year ago Martin Pedersen started geocaching as a way to lose weight, try something new, and get out into nature with his wife and three very young kids. (I still don’t know how people with twins and triplets get anything accomplished.) Documenting their their journey online, Family Navigation was “born” and along with it came the Geocache Diet.
To me Family Navigation is about two people who consciously made changes in where they live, how they work, and what family means to them. Keeping this post in line with road trips and family adventure, I asked for some pointers about geocaching on the road and to set give us a few activity challenges when we’re out and about this summer.
While most of the geocaching you’ve accomplished over the last year has been relatively close to home, how can families have the most rewarding experience geocaching away from home (including day trips)?
When we plan for a trip all we do is create a framework for travel and then we fill in the blanks as we go. Before we had kids Lisa and I traveled in Australia for 10 months and all we planned was to buy a car and travel clockwise around the country. Now that we have kids we find this philosophy is almost essential. It is too hard to predict weather and the moods of children to schedule each day in advance. Geocaching and this travel philosophy were made for each other. Before leaving I will fill GPS receiver with caches based on the general direction we have chosen. While on the road if we find a great picnic spot on a lake and we want to go explore we turn on the GPSr and go look for any caches that happen to be close by. We may have picked out a couple ‘must do’ caches at our destination in advance but for the most part we just see how the day goes. There is nothing better when traveling then the feeling of discovery and the less you plan the more surprising discoveries you can get. The stress of not doing everything you planned is also removed if all you planned on was having fun as a family.
We can rate the success of previous trips by how favourable we remember our experiences. Our most remembered trips are always the ones that got us out of comfort level by trying something new. Lisa speaks fondly of her first time snorkeling and I can remember almost every time I discovered new animals in the wild. A great thing about traveling with kids is that almost every experience outside of home is a new experience. Just sit back and soak up their enthusiasm.
Challenges for a family trip could include trying new food, discovering new plants or wildlife, trying a new activity, or just noting what is different from home. Geocaching has become one of our most used guides when traveling and there are many challenges you can do. Maybe you want to find a cache in harder terrain or solve a challenging puzzle. Should we try and do a night cache together or rent a boat and try to get a cache from the water? Our Fall Activity Challenge was designed to make sure we get out once a week as a family during a time when it is easy to find excuses not to. Perhaps your challenge is to simply get out more as a family than the previous year.
Our website, familynavigation.com, was created to capture our transition towards the balanced family lifestyle we most desired. The birth of our twins signaled the completion of our family and a time to look closely at the life we were living. We realized a change was needed as we determined we were not city people and not as happy with our daily routine as we should be. Once the chaos of twin babies in the house settled I quit my job, moved the family to a smaller town, and we started to live a slower, more active, family life. The Geocache Diet was targeted at one aspect of our lifestyle overhaul which was my desire to include daily exercise into my routine. The allotted year is now up and although I still struggle with my weight we are all more active. Our website will still continue to discuss this ongoing process of working as one family unit and the decisions that make all our lives happy and healthy.
We will continue to write about family activities, including geocaching, but we will be focusing more on balancing fulfilling work with raising three rambunctious kids. We have decided to let Lisa live her long lost dream of being a professional photographer. As we manage the challenges of the business start-up we will follow our progress and how we incorporate this business of passion into our slow family life goals. All going well there will be a few road trips to write about as well.
As your kids get older, will you continue to use geocaching as a teaching tool? What advice would you share with families of younger children (families considering their own personal family navigation)?
Geocaching is a wonderful tool to use for discovery and we are all true explorers at heart. As our kids get older our family geocaching experiences with continue to grow as the activity itself evolves. Geocaching fits so nicely with our family goals and our new slow family life philosophy. We prefer to spend time outdoors, we like to explore new locations, and it is something that every member of the family can be involved with. It is hard to find an activity where the adults can get as much out of it as the kids do. Kids learn through play and as adults, to be able to learn alongside our kids by playing with them is very rewarding.