Cache on. Cache well. Cache thoughtfully.

posted Jan 17, 2012, 9:28 AM by Greg Jewett   [ updated Jan 21, 2012, 8:46 AM ]
by BarbJ/Tygress (Yeah, I'm a crank -- but I love y'all and the sport)

Every single one of us is an ambassador of our sport. OUR behavior will make or break its popularity.
A couple things this weekend got me to ranting (a little) -- and TreyB, the great incorriger, said I should vent them in a sort of bloggy.
We found a cache in a guardrail along the 30 Toll Road this weekend.  Eh, maybe not the safest place for a cache, but whatever. Keep my butt off the road and an eye on traffic. My PROBLEM with it -- the thing looks like a pipe bomb.  We need to remember not everyone is a cacher. Placement and appropriate appearance ARE important.  (This is not just me over reacting: 4 schools were under lock down last week when threats were phoned in, and something that looked like a pipe bomb was seen in a student's car.)
Careless placement

Placement against the rules. Re-read the FAQs, man, there's a reason.  Like the rules of baseball, they're there because of experience (usually unfortunate interactions with non cachers) in the game. CACHERS dismantling ground zero, not respecting property (remember, we are 'guests'), not getting our asses off the road, pulling back on the road without looking... all these add up against geocaching.
In some states cemetery caches are actually against county code. Why? Some are because people get Ideas in their head about respect/disrespect. Some are because some cachers actually weren't respectful to the spot. *YOU* may not care one way or another -- but that grave is someone else's Granny.
Again, appearances, guys. How do things look to others -- property owners, non-cachers.
Parking lots

We make free use of parking lots as if they were public property.  Remember, they're not.
So placing a cache that puts a property owner in liability -- not all of us take full responsibility for our insanity -- is bound to make said owner anti-caching.  I'm not talking lamp skirts, I'm talking high terrain hides that put people in risk, or demand that they use structures in ways never intended by the designer.
Technically, we're supposed to ask permission. Do we? Often not.  I recall one cache in a food trailer, where maybe the owner gave permission (the cache page said so, anyway), but the people working it didn't know about it -- they were just tired of people dismantling their trailer skirt. Or a business changes hands and/or management and staff -- the old guard probably didn't write 'And there's a geocache' in the disclosures.

Blind curve/access

It's a great old tree. But if there's no good access, maybe it's not a great spot for a cache. Because:
  1. We will MAKE access
  2. We'll court being road-kill -- because we all get caught up in the passion of the search. And locals on a back road don’t expect to come around a curve to find a geo-rig there.
We have all encountered totally tossed ground zeros. I've seen historical stone fences dismantled. Heck, I saw a traffic light box dismantled. And I, for one, am very good at reassembling sprinkler heads. Ooops. That was real.
And Trey and I – so you know we’re guilty, too – in a fit of the moment went over instead of around a fence. Bad on us. I’ll think twice next time. (And maybe read the cache page that said the going around wasn’t that far away. Sheesh. =sound of hand-slap=)
Place a cache in a busy parking lot, or outside a business, with or without permission, you're going to find you have a high maintenance problem. Because some of us don't cache at 2 a.m. and never intend to. And we get old and cranky and have spent the gas to get to the place -- we stop caring a bit. (Shame on us – it’s just a smiley – but we’re all sorts and I drove 90 miles.) Sure, use due caution, but it's Caveat HIDER as well as Finder. And we'll all reap the harvest of misplacements and mishiding -- high maintenance caches, public sentiment, etc.  Sure, there are some people who will NEVER like caching, who just don't GET IT. There are people who are afraid all the wrong sorts of people will come to their little alley. Sure, WE know most caches are lucky to get 20 visitors over the course of a year -- but that's changing as the sport gets bigger, too. We need to be Considerate – even of those who don’t know where their property line ends and public access begins. Be kind. That will win people when you’re NICE about whatever. And sometimes, well, just take the cache down and go. The world isn’t saturated yet! (Though I’m still hurting over the archiving of MCP’s Tygress Milestone cache. That was PERSONAL! But necessary.)
I was at GC1CJ1F Frankenfeet yesterday. The site still has the bent fence where Mrs. Captain Picard went over the top. And the top brick on the retaining wall is still missing where Howard went up from the inside (and on the WRONG side, dammit!) -- and, more, came tumbling down. Without putting too aggravated a spin on it -- this cache placement (in the median of a BUSY road) was a good idea.... why? In retrospect, even the CO realized the problem -- it was archived as soon as word got out about Howard. But we don't want to be the CO that put a buddy in a hospital, got some newbies harassed by the police/security/property owner, got a historical site destroyed. (And, yes, as finders we do have moments of 'knowing better' -- usually right before we maim ourselves. I call it the Wile E. Coyote moment.)
On the whole, I'm astonished at how we are ignored by Joe Public. And that's a fine thing. I like caching. I like park and grabs, I like hikers. I do NOT like going way off trail in State Parks where signage to stay on trail is pretty obvious (means us, too, mes amis). How many of us use geotrails to find the cache? Out in the juniper, I'm not so picky. Through someone's landscaping -- er, not as nice. And I can list off caches taken down because of that.
So, and there is a point:

Remember to think beyond your moment.
Sure, your kid can scurry up that. But is your kid half orangutan? Sure, you put all sorts of terrain warnings, but think a couple jots to the right and left of your position, just to be safer.
Is the driving by State Trooper going to understand that is a PVC pipe or something more sinister?
Do you really want someone and their kids caching into that homeless camp? Or CITO posterchild? (God, I’ve been to some oogy, hateful places, and wondered ‘why?’ Why put a cache there in the first place? Why did I bother grossing myself out – it’s just a smiley. Ah! The finding compulsion!)
Yes, we use the world as our playground -- but we have to remember we SHARE that world. We need to be good citizens. We need to beware of the tunnel vision of our passion. WE know we MEAN NO HARM. But there are unintended consequences as well as, well, misunderstandings by non-cachers. I used to be so covert -- but these days, at least with adults, I'll just explain the game. They usually lose interest when they find there's no money in CACHING. One case in five decide it's a great idea and we have a new convert.
Old timers need to share experience.  New people need to listen and know we're not just being cranky. You may disagree, but at least listen and hear the kernel of truth (or at least experience) in another person's point of view.
I'd hate to see the sport founder under it's own popularity. So, I guess what I'm saying: have a care. Think outside your perspective.
((And, finder (me, too!) – just because it’s there, doesn’t mean you HAVE to get it. Even with the gas/time expense – ultimately, it’s JUST a smiley, and not worth life and limb. You’re allowed to listen to better sense and walk away. Really. It’s ok. I won’t even ask you post a “did not attempt” so your stand-down secret is safe!))
Just – think of others. Cachers of less ability. Noncachers who see through other spectacles.
Remember, we are ALL ambassadors of the sport. Every cacher’s action will make or break the game.
And, yeah, even when I rant – be nice to each other. Nice is good. Really and seriously.
Cache on.
Cache well.
Cache thoughtfully.