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LEO friend or foe?


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Hi all, I wanted to start a topic here about the all too underpaid (IMO) Law Enforcement Officers. This all started while doing my first virtual with #1Son, World Record Light Bulb (GC6B3A) and I noticed that the fire truckes carried LPFD on their main logo. I took it to read Livermore Police and Fire Department. After I got home and logged my find and did all the other requisite stuff for this find I started looking at how my city is set up in the LEO and Fire departments. The burning question that finally formed was, "How does my local police view geocaching or do they even know about it?"

 

Now I've spent the last few hours reading threads of funny LEO involvement and such and a few scary ones as well. I have also thought to call up the local LEO office and see if I can get some face to face time with someone in the know and that will be able to enlighten me as to their procedures and what I need to know if I get called on. I'm not the stealthiest person at 40-mumble years and 6'2" I can make lots of folks figetty if I'm out trapsing around where I "don't belong."

 

I think someone put it best at the last event I attended. Basically, what is the average description of the modern geocacher and that of a sexual predator... Both, I think, would have to be answered with middle aged white male acting suspicious and, for my area at least, hanging aroud public parks.

 

Now before you flame away at my lack of tact or anything. I know there are alot of kids, ladies, and folks of all races that do this hobby/game/sport (your choice). I'm trying to put myself in the place of a muggle.

 

I haven't made that call yet but it's definatly on the things to do next business day.

 

I'll let you know what I find out and look forward to the discussion here.. especially from any cachers that are also officers.

 

Thanks

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The burning question that finally formed was, "How does my local police view geocaching or do they even know about it?"

 

Now I've spent the last few hours reading threads of funny LEO involvement and such and a few scary ones as well. I have also thought to call up the local LEO office and see if I can get some face to face time with someone in the know and that will be able to enlighten me as to their procedures and what I need to know if I get called on. I'm not the stealthiest person at 40-mumble years and 6'2" I can make lots of folks figetty if I'm out trapsing around where I "don't belong."

It might be interesting to ask a LEO. Some have posted do's & don'ts here in the forum.

 

If you can bring a pamphlet or info card with you while caching, and a cache print-out (or have it on your paperless device), that can help in explaining what you're doing. Some cops know about Geocaching, some don't.

Edited by kunarion
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After reading a few stories here about run-ins with the LEO's I started contacting the one's in my area. I look for caches throughout the week on my way home from work mon-fri/sat. If they are kid friendly, I mark them on a map I have and then take it home and plan a sunday romp with the kids (haven't gooten the wife to agree to go with us yet). I then look up the nearest city/town and give the local police a ring. I inform them of my weekend vist to their area on such and such date and inform them, myself and younglings will be out looking for these caches. So, if anyone spots me and 2 children out there, not to be alarmed. I started this practice a few days ago and out of the 3 police agencies I contacted, 2 knew about caching and the 3rd was clueless. That one, I plan on stopping by and have the kids explain it to them. Maybe bring some paper/pictures to show what we are about.

 

There is something me and the kids do yearly with the local police which I plan on doing with all LEO's I stop by and see. They usually have a program set up where you drop off clean teddy bears and they (LEO's) carry them in the trunk of their patrol cars so if they come on an accident and a young child is there, they give the kid a teddy bear to hold on to. I let my kids choose the ones they are willing to give and I let the kids hand them over. Afterwards, the kids are treated to ice cream. This way my kids learn about the police, the police get to know me and my kids and the kids learn about helping others.

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There's absolutely no reason to call the local police to tell them you'll be out geocaching with your kids. The recent thread in these forums about an unfortunate run-in with the police was a complete anomaly. There are millions of geocachers out there. Many of them (including myself) geocache with kids without any problems. If you ever find yourself in a location where you don't feel comfortable (with or without kids) then leave.

 

If you're approached by LEO, don't lie, tell them the truth about what you're doing. At worst they are likely to roll their eyes and leave. On the other hand, you might find them curious about the game. (It often seems to appeal to them). LEO's are looking for people doing illegal things. There's nothing illegal about being out with your kids or geocaching and as long as you're not breaking any rules (like being in a park after hours or ignoring trespassing signs) you have no reason to lie.

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There's absolutely no reason to call the local police to tell them you'll be out geocaching with your kids. The recent thread in these forums about an unfortunate run-in with the police was a complete anomaly. There are millions of geocachers out there. Many of them (including myself) geocache with kids without any problems. If you ever find yourself in a location where you don't feel comfortable (with or without kids) then leave.

 

If you're approached by LEO, don't lie, tell them the truth about what you're doing. At worst they are likely to roll their eyes and leave. On the other hand, you might find them curious about the game. (It often seems to appeal to them). LEO's are looking for people doing illegal things. There's nothing illegal about being out with your kids or geocaching and as long as you're not breaking any rules (like being in a park after hours or ignoring trespassing signs) you have no reason to lie.

 

This may be relative to the area someone is caching in - it may make sense in rural areas with little crime. I cache in a heavily populated area where the LEO has a lot more to worry about than someone walking around in circles in a park with a GPS. Individual cachers calling LEO to inform them they'll be in an area? Seems like an annoyance to local LEO and probably something they'll quickly forget about. It may be a better idea in a heavily populated area for a local geocaching organization to inform LEO or a local authority / municipality that the area has a large number of caches, explain the hobby, etc. Once and done. If anyone has a run-in with an individual LEO, like you say, it's best to explain what you're doing. Most are pretty cool with it.

 

Some areas are quite friendly to geocaching - caching spots are mentioned / published on state park websites, rail trails, etc. Some geocaching organizations are involved in community events and create positive awareness. Local media may also cover some caching related press - things about the hobby, how to start, etc. Some counties in PA sponsor geocaching-related tourism. That's great!

 

Some areas, however, aren't so friendly. I understand that in my hometown, a bordering township's LEO got pretty hostile about the hobby. There are very few caches there due to people having some negative encounters with the LEO. Anything bringing in outsiders is always seen as a bad thing there, basically. Typical NIMBY syndrome... :( So in these cases, if you know an area like this, yes, it may be warranted to call ahead.

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Hi all, I wanted to start a topic here about the all too underpaid (IMO) Law Enforcement Officers. This all started while doing my first virtual with #1Son, World Record Light Bulb (GC6B3A) and I noticed that the fire truckes carried LPFD on their main logo. I took it to read Livermore Police and Fire Department. After I got home and logged my find and did all the other requisite stuff for this find I started looking at how my city is set up in the LEO and Fire departments. The burning question that finally formed was, "How does my local police view geocaching or do they even know about it?"

 

Now I've spent the last few hours reading threads of funny LEO involvement and such and a few scary ones as well. I have also thought to call up the local LEO office and see if I can get some face to face time with someone in the know and that will be able to enlighten me as to their procedures and what I need to know if I get called on. I'm not the stealthiest person at 40-mumble years and 6'2" I can make lots of folks figetty if I'm out trapsing around where I "don't belong."

 

I think someone put it best at the last event I attended. Basically, what is the average description of the modern geocacher and that of a sexual predator... Both, I think, would have to be answered with middle aged white male acting suspicious and, for my area at least, hanging aroud public parks.

 

Now before you flame away at my lack of tact or anything. I know there are alot of kids, ladies, and folks of all races that do this hobby/game/sport (your choice). I'm trying to put myself in the place of a muggle.

 

I haven't made that call yet but it's definatly on the things to do next business day.

 

I'll let you know what I find out and look forward to the discussion here.. especially from any cachers that are also officers.

 

Thanks

 

I would contact your local geocaching organization before you get yourself into a barrel of questions you can't answer. You profile says you haven't been cachin' very long. Not discounting your intelligence or experience, but there may already be something of that sort going on or in the works. Have you checked?

 

It might save you some time and possibly an unpleasant or at least ambivalent encounter with a LEO with much better things to do. Cold calls are not usually fun for either party. It's best to schedule an appointment with your PD's Community Outreach Officer if you wish to press on.

 

Personally, I have been trying for YEARS to get a friendly meeting with the HPD bomb squad about geocaching activities. I used to work with them at least once a year until about 2004. So far they ain't interested.

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I think someone put it best at the last event I attended. Basically, what is the average description of the modern geocacher and that of a sexual predator... Both, I think, would have to be answered with middle aged white male acting suspicious and, for my area at least, hanging aroud public parks.

 

While there is an "average" (which I read as meaning 'typical') description of a geocacher, there is no "average" description of a sexual predator. They tend to be more male than female, though not exclusively. They can be any age, though a 1984 study stating that 71% of child sex offenders are under the age of 35. Most (95%) know their victims.

 

But all that is irrelevant as perceptions are just what you described. As a middle-aged male, when I'm caching alone I'm very cautious about caching around playgrounds and areas with children. I'm not worried about the police, I don't want to worry parents. Fair or not, a parent should be able to enjoy an afternoon on the playground with their child without having to worry about that 'weird guy' behind the tree over there. There are plenty of caches out there (in my area) so I can always cache someplace else.

 

As for the police...

 

I say don't worry about them. What you're doing is legal. If a LEO approaches you, tell them the truth. Once they know you're not causing trouble they'll move on to more important things. As for security guards, I tell them as little as possible. If I'm in a public area and not causing trouble, I've got no legal requirement to tell them anything. I'll just move along.

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I say don't worry about them. What you're doing is legal. If a LEO approaches you, tell them the truth. Once they know you're not causing trouble they'll move on to more important things. As for security guards, I tell them as little as possible. If I'm in a publicarea and not causing trouble, I've got no legal requirement to tell them anything. I'll just move along.

 

You may think you are out in public when you are actually standing on private property. In my state, security officers actually have MORE authority for search and seizure than do LEO's when they are ON the property they serve. Food for thought. I pays to be nice and civil to anyone in a uniform.

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Adding my person 2c on the subject, and an angle that I haven't seen mentioned:

 

A pet peeve of mine is caches that are placed without taking thought to as to whether people looking for them are going to be a hassle for nearby residents, and/or with disregard for whether the search may lead fellow cachers onto private property... especially cachers who ASSume that just because a bit of woods or a structure is next to the street or sidewalk, it's fair game for cache placement.

I was recently told in these forums that it's legal to place a cache on a private fence if the fence is next to a road or sidewalk... no, folks, the fence around my yard or my neighbor's livestock pens is NOT fair game for a cache just because there's a nearby road!!

 

Correllary and equal pet peeve is geocachers who ASSume that just because someone has placed a cache, they have a RIGHT to tromp whereever they please to look for it... even when a bit of observation and common sense should tell them they're probably trespassing.

 

For example, I've seen a couple of caches placed on the borders of parks in such a way that cachers were easily led literally into a neighbor's back yard, as well as a number of caches placed in small wooded areas that are actually private residential property. (I'm not talking about common areas in a development, but one person's private farm or yard.)

 

And then there was the cache that was placed on the edge of a playground designed for small children, which also happened to be about 60 feet from someone's front door and picture window. I went to look for the cache without realizing it was on a playground... walked around a bit going "these coords have to be off!".

As I was checking out a tree that was about 20 feet from the playground, the homeowner came out with his young daughter, and asked if I was looking for the cache. I told him I was.

He confirmed that it was, in fact, hidden on the playground, and asked if I'd like him to show me where it was so that I could finish and leave. He was civil, but it was very clear that he was NOT happy at the cache being there, at what he felt was repeated inappropriate use of the playground he daily took his daughter to, nor with the concept of geocaching in general. We talked a bit, and I told him that most caches are placed with more consideration, but I could tell that he'd already made his mind up that geocachers are a bad lot, and that my level of courtesy was not the norm.

 

What made that cache placement particularly stupid, btw, is that it was a good-sized park, and there was AMPLE opportunity for placement away from both the little kid area and private residences. But nooo, the cache hider wanted to place a "clever" micro that required "stealth".

 

Shortly thereafter, a cache thief began operating in the area - he went all over the place, removing as many caches as he could find. At one point, members of our local geocaching society set up a "sting" and caught the individual... he was reported to have a young child with him. I've always wondered if it was the ticked-off father.

 

Anyway.. the reason I'm bringing inconsiderate/inappropriate placements up in this thread is that IMO not only are such caches a good way to alienate "muggles" to the game, but are a good way to put cachers in conflict with local LEOs.

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I think someone put it best at the last event I attended. Basically, what is the average description of the modern geocacher and that of a sexual predator... Both, I think, would have to be answered with middle aged white male acting suspicious and, for my area at least, hanging aroud public parks.

 

Most LEO's know what people as you discribe are up to hanging out in the Park. This is a great reason why to NOT place geocaches around schools where childeren are present.

The last event that I attended was more family with young children than people as you discribe.

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I'm a LEO here in PA, and while I've done some playground caches, I really try to avoid them because of the suspicous nature you present. I also feel creepy about doing caches that are on a persons property, such as attached to a rain gutter downspout, etc.

 

Doing playground caches with your wife/girlfriend might not raise any suspicions, just as doing it with your kids..........or the neighbors kids!!! LOL! But, as a lone male lurking around a playground???? That is going to raise some eye brows. I did a multi-stage (several area playgrounds) cache, that was nice, but I did it in the middle of winter, during the week. Not a sole around. Come warmer weather????

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I'm a LEO here in PA, and while I've done some playground caches, I really try to avoid them because of the suspicous nature you present. I also feel creepy about doing caches that are on a persons property, such as attached to a rain gutter downspout, etc.

 

Doing playground caches with your wife/girlfriend might not raise any suspicions, just as doing it with your kids..........or the neighbors kids!!! LOL! But, as a lone male lurking around a playground???? That is going to raise some eye brows. I did a multi-stage (several area playgrounds) cache, that was nice, but I did it in the middle of winter, during the week. Not a sole around. Come warmer weather????

Good advise. :rolleyes:

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I can't imagine a scenario that would prompt me, as an individual geocacher, to contact the police out of the blue to discuss this game or the fact that I intend to play this game.

 

Agreed. No more than I would alert the authorities to my plans to walk a hiking trail alone, bike alone, or even walk down a sidewalk wearing a trench coat.

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I'm a LEO here in PA, and while I've done some playground caches, I really try to avoid them because of the suspicous nature you present. I also feel creepy about doing caches that are on a persons property, such as attached to a rain gutter downspout, etc.

 

Doing playground caches with your wife/girlfriend might not raise any suspicions, just as doing it with your kids..........or the neighbors kids!!! LOL! But, as a lone male lurking around a playground???? That is going to raise some eye brows. I did a multi-stage (several area playgrounds) cache, that was nice, but I did it in the middle of winter, during the week. Not a sole around. Come warmer weather????

Good advise. :rolleyes:

 

Or possibly even advice. :rolleyes:

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It's the Livermore-Pleasanton Fire Department. I have known about them for a few years now because of the light bulb. ....

 

http://www.centennialbulb.org/

 

 

Didn't know they had a virtual cache there. Cool!

 

I used to live in Pleasanton (about 17 years ago) and never knew about the light bulb. If I had been a geocacher back then (and geocaching existed) I probably would have discovered it through that virtual.

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I'm a LEO here in PA, and while I've done some playground caches, I really try to avoid them because of the suspicous nature you present. I also feel creepy about doing caches that are on a persons property, such as attached to a rain gutter downspout, etc.

 

Doing playground caches with your wife/girlfriend might not raise any suspicions, just as doing it with your kids..........or the neighbors kids!!! LOL! But, as a lone male lurking around a playground???? That is going to raise some eye brows.

 

Re the playground cache I mentioned upthread, I'm fairly sure that a large part of why the father felt comfortable approaching me, offered me help, and was quite nice to me (even though he was ticked off about the cache in general)is that I'm a smallish middleaged woman. The fact that I was upfront about what I was doing, as well as polite and friendly when approached, didn't hurt either.

 

Editing to add: Even when I know the property owner has approved - or placed! - the cache, I'm rarely comfortable with caches placed on private residential property. My level of comfort, and willingness to look for it at all, is directly related to how close the cache is to the house and/or to neighboring houses.

Edited by cimawr
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I'm a cop and have recently introduced caching to a couple of my fellow officers who are really enjoying the sport. I highly encourage citizens to get face time with their local LEOs. I have found it amazing how little the average citizen knows about how and why the police respond to different situations they face. I encourage you to call up your local PD and see if you can do a ride along for a few hours or even a few days. Do it on a Friday or Saturday night if you want to see some action.

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As another caching cop, we found out about geocaching because I got out with a "suspicious vehicle" and learned of it. As a consequence, most of the cops in the county dept. I work at now know about geocaching from my involvement, so we're a cache friendly bunch. I also get calls from the local narcs to find out if it's a drug drop or a cache.

 

If you're confronted by the locals while caching, just tell them what you're up to. The vast majority of us are just normal folks doing a job they make TV shows about.

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I've been contacted by law enforcement maybe 7 or 8 or even 9 times. I'd have to think about it and count them up. I don't have a problem with it. They're just doing their jobs and I'm not breaking any laws so it works out well. I explain what I'm doing and it's never been a problem. One officer was polite and seemed to understand what I was doing and accepted my explanation but ran my DL and the plates on my truck anyway. It didn't bother me a bit. Like I said above, he was just doing his job.

 

I'd MUCH rather have the occasional contact with an officer who wonders just what in heck I'm doing than have the law enforcement community be so lax that they didn't even take the time to check me out. I make it a point to NOT break the law while geocaching and, so far, I haven't had a problem with any of the officers who've checked out my geocaching activities.

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To my fellow LEO's, have you informed all your officers about geocaching? We had a suspicious person call in a low crime area that had a burglary spree going on. I'm a civilian analyst but I took the phone call. Turned out to be a geocacher, who incidentally I contacted through GC to confirm it was a geocacher and not the burglar (we never made a stop on him). I put out a notice to our officers and dispatchers about geocachers, how they act, why they may seem suspicious and evasive, what equipment they may have, etc. Never had a problem afterwards.

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To my fellow LEO's, have you informed all your officers about geocaching? We had a suspicious person call in a low crime area that had a burglary spree going on. I'm a civilian analyst but I took the phone call. Turned out to be a geocacher, who incidentally I contacted through GC to confirm it was a geocacher and not the burglar (we never made a stop on him). I put out a notice to our officers and dispatchers about geocachers, how they act, why they may seem suspicious and evasive, what equipment they may have, etc. Never had a problem afterwards.

 

Thanks AC

That was great forethought! You might be interested to know that I have gotten a reply from Groundspeak that has a PP presentation as well as a LEO specific Booklet on GCing. Looks like something I'll be printing out and putting in the maintenence bag I always have with me. But you might like to have it or a link for it to hand around. I'm sure if you ask they'll forward it to you. (I would but since it's not mine, I'll let them control it's decimination) If there is enough interest I bet they'll put in the resources page.

 

Like someone coined "Good press is hard to find, but bad is hard to get away from!" And to all who serve, from law enforcement to the military THANK YOU FOR YOUR SERVICE!!!

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I have only run into LEOs while caching once. Los Angeles County Sheriff. It was in Castiac and at night. They saw my car pulled to the side of the road and me running about with my Surefire light. They said good evening and I responded back kindly in turn. I asked if they had heard of Geocaching and the one officer had. I said that was what I was doing. They seemed convinced and wished me a good night.

 

Now my local law enforcement generally know about it. Being a gun dealer, I also sell them a lot of guns. So even if I ran into a local officer that didn't know me and what I was up to, I have Taft PD and Kern County Sheriff's officers actual cell numbers in my phone. If needed could simply say, "Contact Sgt. Eveland or Senior Deputy Nance and ask them if they know who Wesley Morris is and what is Geocaching." They wouldn't even need to see that I had their cell number.

 

The one thing I would caution everyone else against is ever, ever talking to security guards. Just don't do it. You do not have to talk to the police, but sometimes it won't hurt. YOU DO NOT HAVE TO TALK TO SECURITY!!! If a security guard ever asked me what I was doing, I would tell them, "Nothing." If they want to know more, I am not telling them crap. I would simply leave. If a police officer shows up after security calls them, I would cooperate with the police and then just tell the officer straight up, "No way in hell am I answering a security guard's questions. I'll talk to you, but security gets nothing." Probably 9 out of 10 cops would actually respect you more for it and tell you to have a nice night.

 

Security guards, the carnies of the non-circus world!

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I've never had anything but a positive response from LEO's. A few have been mildly interested once you show the the GPSr, some are not interested and carry on once they realize I'm just a techno geek looking for hidden containers. We had one tell us that they can't believe they got a call about it and it was a waste of police time.

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There is a group of us that caches about once a month. We seem to attract LEO's like bees to honey. On all but one occasion, it has all been positive, to the point we now collect the shoulder patch image from each dept and put it on our Facebook page to commemorate the first meeting. http://www.facebook.com/#!/photo.php?fbid=10150124022061409&set=a.416475396408.189323.379649931408&type=1&theater

 

3 or 4 times, we have the officer offer to help look, once they just got out and started searching with us. The last encounter was at night and he used hi spot to illuminate the area. One time we offered and then walked with the officer to the house that had called and explained to them as well, everyone left happy. We carry brochures one of our members printed up and hand them out whenever it happens.

 

Note: The one "unpleasant" experience didn't end badly, just a LEO having a bad day and deciding to take it out on us with some yelling. It happens.

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At worst they are likely to roll their eyes and leave.

 

No. That's not the "worst" that might happen. Not by a long shot...

 

A local cacher in my area was detained for almost an hour and threatened with being added to a "Homeland Security Watch List" by a LEO because they were caching on a public road, MILES from an airport (but an area of concern due to flight paths?)

Edited by daschpeeg
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At worst they are likely to roll their eyes and leave.

 

No. That's not the "worst" that might happen. Not by a long shot...

 

A local cacher in my area was detained for almost an hour and threatened with being added to a "Homeland Security Watch List" by a LEO because they were caching on a public road, MILES from an airport (but an area of concern due to flight paths?)

 

The key word is "likely". I've been reading these forums for years and have only heard of one or two incidents ever where things have gone badly. After-all, if you're obeying the law and you're polite when questioned by the police there's absolutely no reason why the situation should escalate. That doesn't mean it couldn't happen but it's extremely unlikely.

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Quick update

 

Just recieved a note from the chief of Police for Livermore! The info I was able to provide was appreciated:

 

 

Thank you for your message and the positive feedback on my officers. I’m glad that everything worked out in a positive manner. I will utilize the information you attached to make sure that my officers are familiar with Geocaching and will let you know if we need any additional information. Thanks again.

 

That was alot easier than I was anticipating. I was practicing a presentation with the help of Groundspeaks PP presentation and everything... I'l thinking I'll keep working on polishing that in case I need it in the future! B)

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