What could be better than nature combined with gadgets?  Maybe a gorgeous hotel and getting picked up at the Four Seasons Whistler in the coolest jeep ever?  We tried the new special Family Adventure Package through the Four Seasons Resort Whistler, and hiking will never be quite the same.  As a family we met Nic Nero, who runs Whistler Geocaching Adventures.  The kids were super-excited for the jeep ride, and when we approached Lost Lake, we got a lesson on using GPS walkie-talkies.  Geocaching is a worldwide treasure-seeking game with the help of a GPS or GPS-enabled mobile device.  It is one of the fastest growing live, recreational social media activities in the world. 

“Today, there are over a million public geocaches available, placed in over 100 countries and all seven continents including Antarctica.“  says Nic.  “The cache locations are often beautiful, out-of-the-way places that visitors to Whistler might not dare venture to on their own or even know about. The GPS doubles as a tracker and radio should families become lost or require assistance and help is always close by. The cache, which contains a ‘treasure’, can be arranged in advance by the group leader.”  (You might want Thomas the Train to be the item found in the cache by the kids)..

Nic helped us find our first cache.  We walked through the woods very slowly.  Why so slowly, you ask?  The 2 year-old insisted on carrying the backpack that The Four Seasons provided as part of their ‘Family Adventure Package’ -  a 2 night hotel stay combined with a Whistler Geocaching Adventure.  The backpack rocked.  It was filled with goodies upon our arrival including a Four Seasons reusable water bottle, Executive Chef Scott Thomas Dolbee’s Signature Trail Mix (YUM), a British Columbia Guide to Wildlife (it’s waterproof), a Cliff Bar, granola bar and chocolate gold medals on ribbons.  (And the backpack itself was sleek and even had a hole for iPod earphones.)

The first clue not only contained the co-ordinates that we punched into the GPS tracker, but also a riddle.  There were four of these clues and co-ordinates, and what delighted me was that we were forced to communicate as a family, and the kids helped the process as much as the adults did.  One clue involved Little Miss Muffet and finished with … ‘Beware!’  We ended up teaching the kids the nursery rhyme and then we all looked for a spider together.  (We found a rubber one in a tree with our next clue inside its belly).

Our final cache was a metal box containing a ‘Geocoin’ and a special Whistler pin.  The coin (which my son keeps in a very special place) can be registered and tracked online.  Because one component of Geocaching involves not only removing something from a cache, but leaving something behind in return, the next time we find a cache, we’ll leave this coin.  As the kids grow up, we can track the coin as it (hopefully) travels around the world.

So, we’ve got nature, family bonding, Bond-like GPS machines, teaching the principle of giving, and teaching opportunities in geography and travel.  Not bad for a one-hour activity.  We’ll be back.