My family's most recent discovery is the world of Geocaching. In short, there are "treasures" hidden all around the world just waiting to be discovered, including surprisingly many in our local area. Containers, called geocaches, are hidden in a variety of places such as on hiking trails, at historical landmarks, and near waterways. Using the website www.geocaching.com, you choose where you would like to search and the difficulty level. Then use your GPS and hints from the website to locate the cache. Many caches contain a small trinket which you can keep and then leave a new one for the next person. Basic membership online is free. Kids have a lot of fun discovering nature, not to mention getting some exercise and learning about history and geography.
Letterboxing www.letterboxing.org is another family-friendly outdoor quest that involves rubber stamping. Lace up your hiking books, grab a home-made or store-bought rubber stamp and your log book, and hit the trail. Like Geocaching, you find trail directions and clues online. Once you locate the letterbox, make an imprint of the letterbox's stamp in your personal log book and leave an imprint of your personal stamp in the letterbox's logbook.
Adventure awaits with the MA Department of Conservation and Recreation's similar Park Passport Program. From coastal beaches and the Boston Harbor Islands to scenic mountain tops and cultural and historic points of interest, the free passport guide book invites you to discover Massachusetts' over 450,000 acre state park system. After exploring a park, find the park stamp box, use a secret combination (from another spot in the park) to unlock the box, and stamp your passport. These inexpensive and close-to-home destinations provide quality family time, enjoyable exercise, and opportunities to learn about nature and history.
In between your outdoor adventures, keep your little treasure hunter on his toes this spring by coming in to the Children's Museum in Easton. Hunt for pots of gold on St. Patrick's Day (Mar. 17), search for hidden teddy bears on Teddy Bear Day (May 6), or come in any day during school vacation week (April 19-23) for a dinosaur investigation.