Entertain yourself and your family using the government's multimillion-dollar satellites. Don't worry, it's not illegal, it's geocaching!
Anyone can geocache, says Bridgett Czarnecki of Barry County, who first tried geocaching on a girl's weekend and brought the hobby home to share with her family.
"We had so much fun I introduced it to my family when I got back home, and they loved it too," she says.
Geocaching is a treasure hunt using coordinates to locate hidden canisters anywhere from under a fallen tree in the woods to the underside of a park bench downtown. Coordinates are entered into a GPS, and geocachers follow directions to locate the general area of the hidden cache.
The beauty of geocaching is that it can be done anywhere with anyone, and it is relatively inexpensive. Bridgett recommends a handheld GPS.
"(My husband) got me a Garmin eTrex H for Christmas after my girls weekend. We got The Complete Idiot's Guide to Geocaching…We also carry a backpack with a small notebook, and a pen/pencil, camera, snacks, water, and a bag of trinkets to leave in the cache when we find it," Bridgett says.
Once a cache is located, geocachers can log the date it was discovered and see the dates others visited the site. If the cache is large enough, items inside can be traded out for new ones.
"Our favorite things to leave are small toys, baseball cards or coins," Bridgett says.
Geocaching gives families an excuse to get outside and work as a team.
"When we're out in the woods together, laughing and trying to be sneaky, it seems like we're miles from civilization," says Bridgett.
The Czarnecki family enjoys geocaching because it gives them a chance to get outside and explore together. Geocaches are located everywhere in the world, and maybe closer than you think.
"There are thousands of places to geocache all over Michigan…We found that there's some within walking distance of our house," Bridgett says.
To find out more about geocaching and to find the coordinates of caches near you, visit Geocaching.com
Written by: Erika Fifelski was born and raised in West Michigan, and after a brief stint on the sunrise side, she's home and loving it. Erika enjoys cooking, sewing, vacuuming, and discovering new ways to live sustainably and support local businesses. Photo provided by Bridgett Czarnecki. Photographed (from left to right) Lisa Suidgeest, Bridgett Czarnecki, Juanita McCann.