A Lesson in Treasure Hunting


We started a new adventure last week. I love it when I have an idea that my boys actually get excited about. Don’t you hate it when you put a lot of time and planning into something and it falls flat? This time I scored!

For my birthday in April I asked for a handheld GPS so I could take the boys geocaching. Some of you may be wondering what in the world geocaching is. Basically, it’s a form of treasure hunting. People hide “caches” in a variety of different kinds of containers, log the coordinates into a website, then you use your GPS to find where it is. There are hundreds of these caches in the town I live in. The container can be just about anything. We have found fake rocks, buried paint cans, and Rubbermaid containers in addition to the official looking geocache lift-n-lock boxes.

The boxes contain various items. Sometimes there is just a log book for you to sign. There is also something called a travel bug, which I haven’t seen yet. From the picture it looks like a metal tag. If you take it, you must place it in another cache. The goal is for it to travel the world and apparently it is trackable by its original owner. Often there are small treasures…okay, usually pieces of junk inside that you may swap for something else. My oldest son now has a coin from Mexico and my youngest was thrilled with an empty Mentos container.

So, all of that to tell you a brief story about one of our first excursions. We found one cache and returned to a place we had looked once before with no success. When we got to the parking lot my oldest, Joshua, found a dime on the ground. He was thrilled and Austin was disgruntled. I then found a quarter and gave it to Austin. Now Joshua was mad because the quarter was worth more than the dime. Lo and behold, Joshua found another quarter. Now Austin was again upset, because Joshua had two coins and he only had one. Sigh. (I just noticed I do a lot of sighing these days.)

On the way home I talked to them about the importance of being excited for someone even when they have more than you do. Jason decided to ask them a question. The boys like to play “Would You Rather?” while we’re driving places. Normally the questions are more like “Would you rather get caught picking your nose are scratching your bottom?”. Jason asked, “Would you rather make $100,000 and all your friends make $500,000, or would you rather make $75,000 and your friends make $50,000?” Joshua chose the second option. We thought maybe he didn’t understand with such large numbers so Jason simplified it. “Would you rather earn $100 over the summer from your grandparents and your friends earn $500, or would you rather earn $75 and your friends earn $50?” He again chose the second option. I was baffled. “Do you understand in the second option you make less money than in the first?” I queried. “In the second I have more than my friends and can share it with them,” he responded. Well, at least he wasn’t trying to be completely selfish. We went round and round talking about it. No matter what we said, in his mind it was better to have more than his friends than to make $100 versus $75.

Wow! Insightful! My husband said they did a study with this question and an overwhelming number of people chose the second option. They would rather take the lower amount simply so they could have more money than all of their friends.

We told the boys we are going to work this summer on having generous hearts. I believe it is human nature to struggle when good things happen to others, and not to us, but we must strive to rejoice in the accomplishments of our friends. I think as adults we might even struggle with this more than children.

Geocaching is a lot of fun. My boys are beginning to hunt enthusiastically. They are learning many lessons, but most of all I love the life lessons that come from experiences like this. I love when “treasure” can be found in unexpected places. Opportunities to teach your children lessons such as these are priceless.

*On a completely different note, I must put a disclaimer on the “Would You Rather?” game. Use it with great caution. Answers can lead to fascinating discussions and if you are a teacher, choose your questions wisely. One time I had a parent that thought I was trying to promote sex change with my 4th graders. Long story. Ask me about it sometime!

**Click here to learn more about geocaching.

2 thoughts on “A Lesson in Treasure Hunting

  1. While I agree the first option is the more Christian of the two, realistically the second option DOES give you more despite the dollar increment being smaller, since you’d have more relative to everyone. Inflation would theoretically mean the $100 is worth less. I think me saying that might only make it worse, though… 😉

    I did find it interesting to reflect on what your sons said in relation to myself. I know I justify a lot of things by saying, “Ah, but then I could give more if I had more!” We forget that sometimes we need to let others have the opportunity to give to us; sometimes by insisting on giving ourselves, we deny others the blessing of giving!

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