The post on the Geocaching Facebook page started with “My 28 yr old son (who has Down Syndrome) is my best geo-buddy!” The post from Peggy Caton, PeGC56, instantly struck the heart of geocaching buddies sharing an adventure. They search for ‘hidden-treasure’ only find the real treasure right next to them the whole way.
Peggy answers a few questions about geocaching, and about her best bud and son Brian who goes by the geocaching name CoolGuy84.
I discovered it when a couple of my Facebook friends posted about going geocaching last summer. I Googled it instead of asking! I originally didn’t even think to include Brian (CoolGuy84’s real name—and BTW he made up his own geo-name), my younger son and his gf had heard of it before and had been wanting to try it, so the 3 of us set out one evening and only found 2 of the 5 we looked for, but were hooked none the less.
What attracted you to geocaching as a mother and son activity?
We live in a small Missouri town (suburb of KC) and were surprised to find so many geocaches in Raytown—Brian eventually joined us for a few adventures as the others of us got the hang of caching. My other son and his girlfriend lost the fever somewhat between work and life, but Brian was hooked. Its kind of a long story, but in the previous year and a half my family had quite a few losses. We had evolved into sad depressed lumps. Once we discovered geocaching suddenly we were out almost everyday. We went hiking on the trails; we ran up and down hills; climbed rocks and got fresh air and sunshine! I know it sounds sappy but it was kind of a miracle in our lives.
What’s your advice about geocaching to others with family members who have Down Syndrome?
The only advice I have is to not hesitate to include them! Depending on their age there are a variety of ways they can participate. Younger kids can just enjoy the family time and the exercise and fresh air (and eventually become experts). Kids with Down Syndrome tend to be very sedate in nature and would be happy sitting; but then tend to be overweight also. There’s all kinds of therapeutic benefits too—it’s a gross motor activity, fine motor activity (getting to the containers; opening containers; digging through the swag and picking out what you want), it’s a cognitive activity—putting the pieces of the puzzle together to locate the cache. And it also has all the same benefits for them as with typical kids—learning about nature (we saw 2 deer in the woods closeup last weekend and Brian was in awe); traveling, learning geography, history (we’ve done several mystery caches that have taught both of us some interesting history facts). With older kids/adults like Brian it gives them quite a sense of accomplishment, pride and self-confidence. He is SO excited about all of them whether they are quick Park and Grab geocaches (P&Gs) (which he does love and doesn’t usually need my help at all) or if we’re hiking through the woods. Most of all its just plain fun for everyone and can help build a close family bond and hobby.
You describe “CoolGuy84″ as a freak for geocaching. What excites him so much about the activity?
He just gets excited when he figures out where the caches are; he actually does better than me at actually finding the containers. I can read the maps/GPS like a champ and I can drive us there, but I find that he doesn’t have preconceived ideas about what a container should look like or where it should be hidden so he just looks everywhere! Even if I say “ehhh no its probably not there, I don’t know how they could hide one there” then BAM he has it found. He’s always so proud of himself and takes ALL the credit for finding it. Here is our caching chant: ME: “I drive the car, I read the map, you find the cache!! What do we call that?” BRIAN: “ TEAMWORK!!!”
A special thanks to Peggy for sharing the story from all of us at Geocaching HQ. Leave a comment for Peggy and Brian below.