Picture this: I’m relaxing outside on our campsite at Hillsborough River State Park when my youngest suddenly starts pointing and exclaiming at someone across the way. Sure enough, our neighbors who live just a few doors down were also camping and were very near our site! Small world! We waved and walked over to chat and greet their adorable dogs and found out they were in the area for a Munzee event. What on Earth was Munzee? Well, it turns out it’s like a fun high-tech geocaching (and even fitness) adventure! Or, as the Munzee people refer to it, it’s the ultimate 21st century global scavenger hunt.
We really didn’t know what we were getting into, but our friends were enthusiastic about it and it sounded fun. You simply download a free app, spot Munzees on the map and capture them with the tap of a button! There are physical Munzees which are small QR code stickers that a fellow Munzee maniac has placed on something (the back of a sign, the side of a fencepost, under a handrail, on any stationary object) that you scan in the app to capture it, and virtual Munzees which you can simply click on when you are within a certain distance of them (usually 300 feet, sometimes less, sometimes more).
We each promptly downloaded the free app on our phones, saw there were several virtual Munzees in the campground and set off to capture them. This involved walking, jogging, laughing, teasing. You see, the points earned for Munzees are often random so while I might score 20 for capping one, you might score 37 for the same one just seconds later! Or vice versa. There are rock-paper-scissors Munzees where you get to play and your points vary depending on whether you win, lose or draw. There are bowling Munzees that suddenly scatter virtual pins nearby that you have a limited time to go and capture. There are gems, mythological figures, resorts and motels, and so much more.
And did I mention you earn badges along the way? All kinds of badges. Our trip home along I-75 seemed to pass by super quick because we were all (except the driver, of course!) busy trying to collect as many virtual Munzees as we could. And there were so many! Who knew? This is a great app to help pass the time on long road trips and for kids who may spend a lot of time in the car going to homeschool and other events.
Let me tell you, these Munzee people are creative! They sometimes deploy an army of virtual Munzees to form pictures, which they call gardens. We discovered two on a single drive into Sarasota that we’ve done many times before, completely ignorant to the virtual art going on around us. Here is one of them, a carousel horse – how creative is this?? This was created by multiple game players – I don’t even know how they coordinate such a task.
Not only are they creative, sometimes they are also educational. We happened across some Munzees left by a history buff who placed each of his or her virtual Munzees by a historical marker of some sort and shared the marker’s interesting historical insight to the area. Each Munzee is named and can include details and even photos for its location, as well as a log of captures.
I’ll be the first to admit it all started off with a little more frustration than fun for me when we tried to locate some Munzees that just weren’t there. Maybe they were and it was simply user error – that’s completely plausible! But I think with 5 of us searching, and the app showing we were within 3 feet of it, one of us would have found it. I now understand sometimes the physical Munzees get removed or fall off and blow away or suffer some other sad Munzee fate. And it is now our experience that the vast majority of Munzees are in fact where they claim to be and there is definitely a degree of satisfaction when you capture one – especially if you happen to get a new type, score big points or earn more points than your fellow Munzee hunter….
I cannot begin to explain everything there is to know about Munzees because we are still Munzee newbies ourselves. There are so many different types of Munzees and we have only just begun to deploy our own! We did each receive codes for a free starter kit (just 75 cents for shipping) after we signed up which contains 8 physical Munzees but we haven’t used those yet. We have only deployed a few virtuals.
While the Munzee app can connect to your FitBit or other fitness tracker device, I have not done this yet. However, as a FitBit user, I can attest to the fact that you can log a lot of steps on your Munzee excursions! My 8-year-old and I walked around our own neighborhood for well over an hour one morning soon after we returned from this camping trip, logging several miles and having a blast! You see, some Munzees, such as the fire one (and the bowling one I mentioned earlier), deploy virtual fires nearby that you will feel motivated and compelled to extinguish within a period of time (such as two hours). The app somehow activates regular physical Munzees into special ones for these. This means you may have to double back on yourself if you want to capture them, or you may be motivated to walk a little further than you had intended in order to capture a newly activated one. Here I offer evidence of three of my children running along the park road in search of Munzees when they otherwise would likely not have been so physically engaged:
There are Munzee clan wars, events, challenges and so many more aspects of Munzee that we haven’t even begun to explore yet and we’re looking forward to learning more as we go. If you’re interested in joining the search for Munzees, can I ask you a favor? Could you please scan my referral code as soon as you download the app so I can get a few Munzee points too? You see, I’ve currently got more points than my offspring and I’d really like to keep it that way! Hahaha! Munzee on, friends!