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Mid Missouri Caching Organization


Kiefer3D
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I think it is time to get organized. Here is a preliminary list of objectives for a Mid Missouri Caching Organization.

 

1. Maintenance on a cache when it's hider is unable to take care of it. This may include taking over a caches completely if the hider moves away.

 

2. Police new caches to maintain the integrity of caching in the area. This may include suggesting a cache be moved for safety reasons, or rewording the cache page for clarity, warnings, or just better coordinates.

 

3. Provide assistance and guidance for new geocachers.

 

4. Answer questions and concerns of the public, and be the official voice of geocaching for Columbia, Jefferson City, and the surrounding areas. We should also make all organizations aware of geocaches which on their premises. Fortunately, Matt1344 has already founded a positive relationship with the Jefferson City Parks Department. We also seem to have a good understanding with the management at Rockbridge SP. Similar relationships need to be made with:

MDC,

Columbia Parks and Rec,

the Cedar Creek Ranger District,

Finger Lakes SP,

University of Missouri-Columbia,

and every other organization that already has caches on its premises or may have a cache in the future.

 

5. Organize regular meetings and events to promote geocaching in the area, and foster good attitudes and practices among all geocachers in Mid Missouri.

 

Hopefully this will get things rolling. Please feel free to make suggestions. I would also appreciate input from cachers in other cities who have started caching organizations before, or are currently members.

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#3 is great

 

#2 is a potential for abuse and personality conflicts and lots of trouble stemming from differences of opinions.

 

#4 has the potential for MANY problems. How many "official voice" organizations does this sport need? And notifying "all organizations" of caches placed "on their premises" will really anger folks if their caches get confiscated or destroyed.

 

While your motives may be (or may not be) great, I think you'll find resistance for any more rules or policing. Also, trying to become THE official voice for independent cachers as well as becoming the cache police is doomed to failure. If you want to see how these things go, visit the UK forums and see how the idea of GAGB was received. (JMHO)

 

If you want to start something, accumulate and disseminate information for new cachers and experienced cachers: who to contact for certain areas, local rules, regulations, and attitudes of various agencies, contact info for cachers willing to show newbies "the ropes'. And stuff like that.

 

DustyJacket

Not all those that wander are lost. But in my case... icon_biggrin.gif

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Thanks! Your last paragraph really hit home.

 

Unlike KC or St. Louis, there is no organization, resource websites, etc. for cachers in the Mid-Missouri area. In the year I've been caching here I've seen it grow tenfold. (literally)

 

Unfortunately, Not all of the places that we've been hiding caches here have policies. As far as I know, the City of Columbia isn't aware of geocaching. Technically, all of these institutions should already know if there is a geocache on their grounds- because we all asked permission, right? Well I know that's not the case. Once the City, University, etc does make a policy on geocaching, each cacher can individually deal with their own cache if its not in compliance. We don't have to tell the city where the caches are if they know about the website.

 

As for #2, just delete that.. The idea was that any geocaching organization should provide information on local policies on geocaching, and offer advice or assistance if asked for. (which is along the lines of #3) I'd like to stress that regulations and policies on caching shouldn't come from a local organization of cache nazis. They'll come from the people who own and manage the land the caches are placed on. What we ought to do is form positive relationships with them now. If there is a body that acknowledges local rules and regulations, then one cacher doing something stupid won't reflect as badly upon the rest of the cachers in the area.

 

The Jefferson City Parks Department already has a policy on geocaches, go to:

http://www.jeffcitymo.org/jeffcityweb.nsf/LinksView/Parks&RecreationGeocaching?Opendocument

 

(by the way, what does "JMHO" stand for?)

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I think a Mid-MO caching group is an idea whose time has come. When I first got involved in geocaching last year, there were only a handful of active folks in the area. But since then the number of geocachers (and the number of caches) around here has shot WAY up, which is a fantastic thing. I've been involved a little with the fine folks in the SLAGA group, since we're on the fringes of what they consider to be the 'area of interest' for St. Louis cachers, but I think there's the critical mass to support a more local caching group.

 

#1,3, and 5 all sound great to me...the kind of thing a local organization would be perfect for. #4 concerns me a little. Yes, almost all of us are guilty of hiding caches without permission, and yes, permission probably should be sought, but I'm worried about how that would work. It's a little like the old "closing the barn door after the horse is out" analogy.

 

For places that already have a number of caches out like, say, Columbia Parks, it could really rub them the wrong way if a caching group were to approach them and say, "hey, we'd like to get official permission for geocaches, and by the way we've already gone and hidden a number of them without any permission." Now granted, it's a trap we've created ourselves by failing to get permission in the first place. But it could lead to some cheesed-off cachers if the organization inadvertently ends up getting some caches archived that wouldn't have been otherwise. (Even though again, it would be their fault for not getting permission.)

 

I guess what I'm trying to say is, there is definitely a need for something like #4 to happen around here, and having some sort of an umbrella organization to do it is probably the best way. But it's also something that's got loads of potential minefields.

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I also think it's a great idea! I'm bummed that I didn't make it to the last Mid-Mo picnic since I wasn't even caching at that point.

 

As far as permissions go, I was somehow led to believe that Columbia Parks thought caching was fine. I guess that's not the case. The cool thing, though, is that we can point the Columbia Parks and Rec to the Jeff City caching policy as a starting point for a positive outcome. Of course, we may need to bring caches into compliance with any new policies.

 

On the other hand, I'm not sure what kind of outcome there would be by approaching organizations like the University. Who really has the say so on whether caching should be allowed. The grounds keepers? Geology Professors? The Chancelor? There is another thread on the forum about getting permission, and the general consensus of a lot of cachers is that when there is a lack of policy on geocaching, there is an implied permission. I don't really agree with that in it's entirety, but there are many cases where land mangagers simply choose to look the other way instead of making policies. If things get out of hand, I'm sure a policy would be made. But until then, it's a low impact use of public property. I'd certainly like to know if any university in the country has a geocaching policy. That may help us or hurt-depending on their policy. Geocaching seems like a no-brainer for a park to permit, but does geocaching serve the purpose of the University? If we can build a case for why it benefits the University, then we may have a leg to stand on. But for now, the city is probably the first place to start.

 

Btw, you listed Cedar Creek Ranger District of the Mark Twain National Forest as one area that we need to start communications with. I found out that the SLAGA group had already worked with the Mark Twain Nat For. in getting cache approval. For my MTNF cache (Of Bluffs and Bridges), I started with the main contact that SLAGA referred me to and then worked with the Cedar Creek District land manager to get permission. I'm guessing that Matt1344 did the same for his cache in MTNF. So, we already have a relationship going with them. (and they've been great to work with, too!)

 

The whole state could benefit from a caching policy by the MDC. They are everywhere! I do know from talking with Scott Shulte at Rockbridge that he's part of a three person committee who will be formalizing a geocaching policy for the State Parks--or at least recommeding a policy for all the State Parks. He advised me of some of the new rules that will likely take effect so that I could get my two new Gans Creek caches in compliance ahead of time. Most rules are pretty minor like making sure 'official geocache' labels are obvious, submitting photos of the cache/cache location, etc. One major thing they are thinking of implementing is time limits on caches. ... but I digress... The point is, that once the State Parks have a policy, it will be another thing to point the MDC at for getting a policy going for them (and a positive policy, too!) (Before geocaching, I never realized there were SO many different park/public land organizations--it's mind boggling!)

 

Well, I've rambled. I think you're on the right track a-pine. A mid-mo organization would be the best way to approach Columbia Parks and rec. and do all those other things, too!! (I certainly appreciate seeing some of those 'dead' caches come back online)

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Columbia Parks was actually a really bad example to cite in my post, because as I said one other time it's my understanding that they're aware of geocaching but haven't really done anything one way or another about it.

 

[After I typed the above I tried to remember where I'd heard that, and I finally found it.] There was a Missourian article a few months ago where they talked to someone from the city:

 

quote:
Mike Griggs, parks services manager for the Columbia Parks and Recreation Department, said there is no current rule against geocaching in state parks. He has had people contact him about whether or not they can geocache in the parks. Right now, geocaching is allowed by the department as long as there is no evidence that geocaching is causing damage to the plant materials.

(I assume they meant 'city parks' and not 'state parks'.) The article also has a rather negative quote from someone with MDC, but I have to say that it doesn't seem like it jibes with actual practice. The Missourian's source claims MDC scans the site and emails gc.com to have caches yanked, yet there's been local caches on conservation land for literally years...including one that's probably one of the oldest active caches in the state.

 

As for MU, they certainly must be aware...Cagney's Foot Wash has been mentioned in the Missourian article, a Tribune article, and though I can't find it online, I think it was even mentioned in an article in the MU Alumni magazine! This is, of course, a lot different from formal approval.

 

I think MU is going to be a hard sell for the official thumbs up. For one thing, there's going to be layers of red tape. For another, what benefit comes to them from caching? They don't really care about increased visitors or giving the public a better appreciation for the outdoors, which is two of the main selling points for the state parks and places like them. Like FullQuiver said, it would have to be presented in some way that suggests it's to MU's advantage to have geocaches, and that's going to be tricky.

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So, according to ooga booga, Columbia Parks fits into the description of the Land Managers who 'permit' caches by simply allowing the practice to continue without any formal policies. For now, that works--maybe in the future there will be a need for a policy. Maybe we should push for one--maybe we should leave it alone for now (if it ain't broke--don't fix it!)

 

On another point, I stopped by Rockbridge State Park today to turn in photos and information of my two new Gans Creek caches. (That's a new requirement they'll be implementing soon.) I finally met Scott Shulte and his assistant, Jim, and other staff. Very nice folks. If we get a Mid-Mo organization together we may want to approach Rockbridge staff about being a member, advisory member, or something of the like. I know I've learned a lot from Scott Shulte (from a land managers perspective) about some things in cache placement that I had never thought of.

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quote:
I'm guessing that Matt1344 did the same for his cache in MTNF. So, we already have a relationship going with them. (and they've been great to work with, too!)

 

Actually, the Nevin's Homestead Cache and the Mel's Bench Cache (Katy Trail) were the two caches I've placed that I did not get permission for. I should have, I know, but I was operating under some assumptions that may not have been correct. I feel really bad about it too . . .

 

But, that being said, I think the Columbia Area Cache Hunting Enthusiasts group (or some other name that spells out CACHE) is a dandy idea. In fact, I believe it already started informally with A-Pineapple and Spongy Mesophyll's picnics. It's just a matter of formalizing it.

 

As to what we/it should do I'd say:

 

*group caching hunts

*picnics and other social activities

*resource for beginning cachers

*organize CITO events (how about the hill above the King Key Cache?)

*assist with cache maintenance when needed

*limited point source for interaction with officials (i.e. if they need someone to speak to a meeting or if they want someone who will bear the responsibility of sharing the word of some policy change to the geocaching community).

 

 

As others have pointed out, I worked with the Jefferson City Parks and Recreation Department to develop a geocaching policy. I did that as an individual so it's not necessary to interact with officials as a representative of a group. I can't say it would have helped to be associated with a group because they were quite open and receptive to geocaching. More contentious officials might respond better to a formal organization. So, in that sense I think the group could serve some political purpose.

 

Anyway, I say "go for it." I, for one, lend my endorsement to A-Pineapple, Spongy and whoever to take this ball and run with it. Take ownership of it. If some don't like the results they don't have to join.

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It looks like you guys are headed in the right direction. Just remember that you can't please everyone, and you'll have complainers and a lot of non-volunteers, but someone has to get the ball rolling.

 

I was lucky enough to talk with a very interested ranger with the St. Louis County Parks who put me in touch with the person in charge of events, which includes geocaching, even though it may be a one person event. That led to the policy of caching in the parks, of which there is no policy. We are free to do as we have been and police ourselves. His only request was no ammo boxes, and once a month I send him a Word doc with the new or changed caches in the parks so the local park manager knows the where-abouts in case it is found. I am the only contact with the County Parks, and that is how he wants it, instead of every cacher contacting him. Something you may want to think about is having a liaison person between your group and the parks personel.

 

This relationship has evolved into putting on six training seminars for the County Parks rangers and operations people on using GPS's, map reading, and geocaching. From there they asked us to put on a public course on geocaching as part of the Parks outdoor series (which was sold out), and have asked for another one in Oct/Nov.

 

I've also talked with 2 different rangers with the kirkwood Police and they welcome geocachers in their parks because it gives them extra eyes to cut down on parties and vandelism. The city of Crestwood has a permanent "Geocache Course" in Whitecliff park and I've given two public GPS seminars for Crestwood.

 

This may help you with some ammunition if the question of "what are some of the other areas doing"?

 

Rich (RGS)

St. Louis - SLAGA

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quote:
For places that already have a number of caches out like, say, Columbia Parks, it could really rub them the wrong way if a caching group were to approach them and say, "hey, we'd like to get official permission for geocaches, and by the way we've already gone and hidden a number of them without any permission." Now granted, it's a trap we've created ourselves by failing to get permission in the first place. But it could lead to some cheesed-off cachers if the organization inadvertently ends up getting some caches archived that wouldn't have been otherwise. (Even though again, it would be their fault for not getting permission.)

 

I've blown two cacher's covers while seeking permission or asking about a policy. When I approached Jeff City parks I had to reveal that there was already a cache in one of their parks -- specifically Thunder's Keychain Exchange. This actually worked in my favor as they were fascinated with and encouraged by the logs. It really helped them understand the allure and attraction of the game.

 

On the other hand when I approached the manager at the Runge Nature Center about placing a cache there she checked out the GC web site and found the micro that Jim Geocacher placed there. I flat out got him busted. When she said she might pull the unauthorized cache and work with me I backed off and suggested she contact Jim, which she did. I believe they've worked everything out. And yes, I did apologize to Jim. He seemed to be cool with the whole thing.

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I e-mailed a-pineapple, and he agreed with my thinking that the time has come to have some sort of a meeting to nail down the details of all this.

 

He and spongy have been kind enough to organize both of the local get-togethers so far, so I offered to give them a break and do this one. I've posted a picnic event cache at:

 

http://www.geocaching.com/seek/cache_details.aspx?ID=74282

 

(It's not been approved as of this message, but I'm sure it will be soon.) It's scheduled for June 28 at a location to be determined (probably Fairview Park in Columbia). There's been a lot of good conversation here, hopefully we can all keep the ball rolling and make this thing a reality.

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My son is finishing up the Missouri Scholars Academy that day so I'll be in Columbia but I'm not sure I can get away from family functions -- or not sure I would want to, having not seen him for three weeks at that point. I'll try to make it if I can, though.

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I work for Jeff City Parks and Rec and was apprehensive about geocaching at first. Matt13:44 came and made a presentation and, as a staff, we said why not give it a try. Since then, the department had received many good comments on logs and everyone here thinks this is GREAT!

 

Personally, my family and I have fallen in love with the sport. We go out frequently as a family and have some real quality time together. We've discovered and re-discovered lots of great outdoor areas. Besides that, I've lost about 5 pounds and can take a good hike without passing out.

 

I think an organization will serve many needs. It will prove that Geocaching is a respectable sport that can regulate itself. This will ease land manager's concerns. Second, as a group, we can help get Geocaching approved in areas where individuals might not be able to.

 

There might be an opportunity to do a presentation at the Missouri Parks and Recreation Association (MPRA) annual conference in Columbia next spring. If there is an organization by then, we, as a group could have a great opportunity to reach almost every P&R Dept. in the State, as well as some state agencies.

 

P.S. I used to work for Columbia Parks and Rec for 8 years before I came to JC. I know some folks up there and might be able to help put in a good word for us.

 

I'm all for organizing and will try to attend the get-together.

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