The Family Hike
My husband and I went on a hike recently with my daughter, Amy and her two sons who are six and four years old. We took a picnic lunch and arrived at the trail head by noon, fully planning on being done with this gentle hike by 2:00pm. Each of us were excited to be outdoors—in Colorado—our own back yard! Overlooking the beautiful valley below, we munched away on our sandwiches and chips—sipping cool drinks. That’s when Amy unveiled her plan!
Unbeknownst to us she had, by chance, mentioned our little outing to a friend who is a hiking enthusiast! This friend told Amy about ‘geocaching’ in our area. What fun, thought Amy! Thus began the birth of Plan B—the plan that we add ‘geocaching” to our hike—so that her boys could find a hidden cache RIGHT IN THE VICINITY, just off the very trail we were hiking on. Imagine that! AND wouldn’t that be fun???? So out went our plan in lieu of Plan B—and innocently enough we all got excited about the game.
So–What is Geocaching? (You pronounce it Geo-cashing, like cashing a check.)
Google says that it is “the recreational activity of hunting for and finding a hidden object by means of GPS coordinates posted on a website.” Geocaching is the real-world treasure hunt that’s happening right now, all around you. Did you know that there are ‘2,494,299 active geocaches and over 6 million geocachers worldwide?’* (I had NEVER even heard of this word before this day!)
According to the Geocaching website, at its simplest level, geocaching requires these 8 steps:
1. Register for a free Basic Membership.
2. Visit the “Hide & Seek a Cache” page.
3. Enter your postal code and click “search.”
4. Choose any geocache from the list and click on its name.
5. Enter the coordinates of the geocache into your GPS Device.
6. Use your GPS device to assist you in finding the hidden geocache.
7. Sign the logbook and return the geocache to its original location.
8. Share your geocaching stories and photos online.
Amy told us all about this, as we ate our sandwiches and gazed lazily at the scenic horizon from our perch under a shade tree. She managed to get my husband and I supercharged to try our luck at this new game. As for her two rambunctious little boys—they only understood three words in this conversation; ‘hidden treasure’ and ‘hunt’!
Within minutes we were committed to joining this amazing tribe of unique people all over the world who are just as excited about finding a modern-day—‘real-world’ treasure as we are! I had the feeling that any soul with even the tiniest inkling of adventure in their nature, would jump at a chance to do this! Wouldn’t you?
Well, jump we did! My good husband, with great navigational skill, took up this new adventure with the spirit of Indiana Jones, and set out like a bounty hunter on a hot trail! Instead of a tattered parchment map—he and Amy loaded up the IPhone app and quickly got our bearings. A tiny bouncing dot on the GPS showed us right where we were at that particular moment, and promised to keep us on track. Other small markers on the GPS showed us not only that was there a cache in the nearby region—but that there were three or four! What fun! With a whoop and a holler, Al led the way, the two boys trotting close behind; Amy and I followed trying to keep up, moving over terrain that was far more rugged than we had anticipated.
An hour later we found ourselves standing on the very spot that was marked by our GPS dancing dot, as Cache #1. According to our cyber trail guide and the clues given—we were within 15 feet of finding our treasure. Wahooo!
Our excitement mounted—and we were all wondering out loud, what will the treasure be? As you can imagine, our wild guesses were pretty absurd! (I won’t even tell you—such was our ignorance about this new game we were playing!)
Well—time dragged on—and so did our search. But no treasure—yet. After a good 30 minutes we were stumped. After reading all the clues multiple times, we still could not find it! Discouragement began to creep into our ranks—starting with Seth, the four year old. Our enthusiastic daughter decided it was time to abandon this treasure and head on out for the next one on our little map.
Loath to give up too quickly, I found myself reminding Sammy and Seth that ‘hidden treasure’ means—well—you know—‘hidden’! They were brave little guys, but Seth was getting tired of walking and looking. After walking in circles, combing the underbrush and accumulating multiple scratches and insect bites—Seth, Al and Amy were ready to move on.
“There’s more than one cache on this trail,” reminded Amy. “Maybe we’ll get lucky on the next one.”
Sammy—(age 6), like me, was not ready to give up yet! I kept thinking, some small clue must be missing—if we give it just a few more minutes, maybe we’ll find it! I kept looking at the map, the clues, and a photo left by the last person who found it.
That’s when Sammy said it.
“Grandma Linda, maybe you could pray to Jesus and ask Him to help us find it.”
Aw, how sweet, I thought. Sammy knows I believe in God and Jesus—because we talk about them whenever we are together. His mommy and daddy do too—so this comment was not totally random. It came from his small reservoir of knowledge about God. I love it when children show a measure faith in God—even if it is for a materialistic thing like ‘hidden treasure’.
“That’s a great idea, Sammy,” I said. “Seth, what do you think? Should we pray to God and ask Him to help us find the hidden treasure?”
I fully expected little Seth to agree enthusiastically with Sammy and I. To my surprise I was looking at a four year old skeptic. He unenthusiastically said, “Nooooo. Let’s don’t pray. God’s not real, Grandma Linda.”
“What?” I asked in my mock-shocked voice. “God’s not real? How do you know that for sure Seth?”
“Cause we can’t see Him. He’s not real. He can’t hear us either.” He turned his back on me and went to sit down on the bench not far away. That was that! Seth, once his little mind is made up—is not likely to change it very soon.
“Hum,” I said. “Well, Sammy, do you believe God can hear our prayer? Do you think he will answer us? If you do, I will pray with you and then we’ll see what happens.”
Sammy bobbed his head up and down vigorously. “I do Grandma Linda. Let’s pray to Jesus that he’ll help us find the treasure.”
I looked at these two little boys, their mama and my husband, who was now sweaty and looking a bit tired. He was sitting next to Seth on the bench. Amy, had a slight grin on her face and a twinkle in her eye. I had the feeling she was waiting to see how I’d handle this one!
I breathed a silent prayer of my own. God, you know how to grow a little boy’s faith. Please help these children believe that you can show them right where this treasure is hidden.
With my arm around him, Sammy and I bowed our heads and I prayed a simple prayer out loud. “Dear Lord, You know everything. You can see everything—even things that are hidden. Please guide our eyes to the spot where this treasure is hidden—and when we find it we will give you thanks in Jesus’ name.”
“Well there you are Sammy Boy,” I said. “God knows already where it is. So let’s look one more time. I just have a feeling we’ll find it.”
“Ok, Grandma. I know God will show us!” replied Sammy enthusiastically. And with fresh energy he ploughed through some scrub oak—thrashing around—looking hard. Seth, unmoved, remained on the bench—watching with Grandpa.
I walked a few feet away, and prayed again, silently. God please show us where that treasure is so that Sammy’s small faith will be rewarded and so that He will know it was You who guided our eyes to it— according to our prayer. Thank you Lord for hearing and answering a little boy’s prayer.
Glancing around, I looked one more time at the picture on the IPhone. I noticed that I was standing, at that moment, pretty close to the same spot the photographer must have been standing. I let my eyes drop to the ground and slightly to my right. That’s when I saw it. A glint of something not wood—not grass or leaves. It looked like plastic. I stared closer and saw what must be the treasure.
“Sammy,” I shouted. “Come quick! I think I SEE something!”
He rushed to my side. I pointed at the fallen log and the little crack that showed a tiny bit of plastic behind it.
Stooping—he shouted, “I SEE IT! I SEE IT!”
WHOOSH! Ducking down speedy fast, he started digging.
“I GOT IT! I GOT IT!” he screeched, standing up, waving the little plastic box in his hands! We all hurried over to where he was. Little Seth was now elbowing his way under and through us—eager to see what it was. Eyes big, he stared at the box in Sammy’s hands. Then he tried to grab it from Sammy. Sammy hung on—not wanting to share it yet.
We were all laughing now, and Amy finally got Sammy to surrender the box so we could look inside. That’s when we remembered to say a “thank you” prayer to Jesus—for helping us find the cache. Sammy was one happy little boy!
Well, as Amy opened the little box—we were a bit dismayed at the ‘treasure’ inside—not at all what we had expected. (Even though we really didn’t know exactly what to expect!)
Here’s a short list of the ‘booty’
- One Band-Aid (plaster)—heavy duty, waterproof (Handy to the weary hiker—I guess.)
- Two small erasers (Really?)
- One small retractable measuring tape—a company give-away
- A red coloring pencil
That’s it! There was no log book to inform us of ‘who else’ had found the treasure and ‘when’.
For the two tired little boys, the booty didn’t look too interesting. Sammy decided to take the little measuring tape—and then offered it to his brother. Seth took it gladly—and he fiddled with it all the way home. We scrounged our packs to find ‘something’ to put back into the box for the next geocachers. Sammy took the lead and carefully hid the box again—in the same place. Amy logged our results into her app and posted it on Facebook.
Personally, I was a bit let down–my imagination could have found way funner things to put into a cache than what we actually found–but I decided that we had found more ‘hidden treasure’ on this fun day than just the small plastic box. As we left that little spot beside the trail—we sighed happily—and before we knew it—Amy and Al were leading us down the path, hot on the trail to the next cache–following the clues!
Sammy and I walked together—holding hands and talking about the treasure and what we would find next. I silently thanked God for hearing this little boy’s prayer. AND I thanked Him for being a God who cared—even about the smallest things.
Thank you for stopping by my site today. I hope you enjoyed reading about our little family adventure. If you did, take a moment and let me know.
All God’s best,
©by Linda Bridges, (September, 2014)
*(see http://www.geocaching.com for more insights on this modern day ‘treasure hunting’ sport!)