If you and your family are not already geocaching, it may be time you got started. For those who aren't sure exactly what geocaching is, it's basically a high-tech treasure hunt played all over the world. All you need to join in the fun is a GPS (a standalone unit or a cell phone GPS will do.) The idea is to locate hidden containers, called geocaches, outdoors and then share your experiences online. Some geocaches contain trinkets that you can take along in exchange for new trinkets you can leave behind. It's a great way to get kids outdoors, and an excellent activity to do together as a family. All you have to do to get started is click on the Geocaching website, plug in your ZIP code (or the ZIP code of an area you will be visiting,) and go find it!

For older kids and adults who want to get a little more out of their caching experience, you might want to try Earthcaching. The EarthCache program is relatively new compared to geocaching, but it's catching on fast and there are lots of opportunities to find a cache. The idea behind Earthcache is not in finding a box of trinkets, but rather in exploring and enjoying the natural area marked on the spot. Earthcaching is a “virtual” geocache that contains no physical hidden container or cache, but instead lets you hunt for the Earth’s natural and geological features as the “treasure.”

It's a great way to get outside and learn about nature. All Earthcaches have an educational component that involves reading the Earthcache notes about a location, then locating the feature using a GPS device. Instead of leaving or removing anything from the site, Earthcachers document their observations and answer questions as a learning experience, and then report their discoveries on the Earthcache website. 

Happy hunting!

The opinions expressed by MNN Bloggers and those providing comments are theirs alone, and do not reflect the opinions of MNN.com. While we have reviewed their content to make sure it complies with our Terms and Conditions, MNN is not responsible for the accuracy of any of their information.