Jump to content

Will South Carolina Ban Caching?


Recommended Posts

The material below is reproduced from the geocaching discussion forum, and it should be reviewed by every benchmark hunter. What we do as a hobby is enjoyable and has value to the community. We need to be on our "best behavior" at all times so we don't ruin a good thing.


Be polite when speaking with landowners and other persons whom you encounter during a hunt. Respect property. Honor DO NOT TRESPASS signs and chain-link fences. If the mark is in a cemetery and is recessed eight inches, perhaps you should let that one go, rather than being seen digging near a grave.


Moreover, given the attention to unflattering photos of cache hobbists romping on private property, it might be a good idea if we eliminated the cartoon characters from our benchmark photos. They're cute, I admit. But this could give the wrong impression if we ever had to defend our hobby, as the geocachers in South Carolina are having to do. Likewise, we should watch what we type in the captions. In the original thread, you'll see a reference to "The Money Shot" [a term from the pornographic movie industry] which was picked up on a cache photo by that hobby's enemies. The identical wording recently found its way into the benchmark gallery.




Pasted Material Follows:


I was at the meeting yesterday. The Special Laws Subcommittee meeting was scheduled to last an hour, and topic H. 3777 which seeks to restrict Geocaching was the third item on the agenda.


The subcommittee has 5 members, there were 6 Geocachers in the room a half hour before the meeting. Our intention was to give the subcommittee introduction to Geocaching. We were prepared to demystify it, to talk about what it was and who was doing. We knew of six South Carolina Policement who were Geocachers, a firefighter, three paramedics, a retired missionary, an active minister, the General Manager of a hotel. More importantly, we knew the occupations of Geocachers in the districts represented by the sub committee members, and we were prepared to show Geocachers as a responsible group of citizens who could be trusted with the sensitive areas within the state. We were lined up to talk about CITO, and we had pictures from past projects as well as the calendar of future events. We were pysched.


Ten minutes before the meeting, the sponsor of the legislation enters the meeting room and she sets up material for her presentation. In addition to lots of printed material, she sets of two large poster boards on an easel at the front of the room. These poster boards are covered with text from log entries from finders who were logging cemetery caches, as well photographs they had taken while within the cemetery. They had done their research well, and they were displaying the worst of the worst.


(I'm working with the Representative to identify every picture and every log entry, and rest assured that I will post them all here once they have been identified. In the meantime, I will have to describe what was displayed.)


There were photographs of groups of people out night-caching, posing for a group photograph as they leaned against old grave markers.


There were photographs of caches that had been found, temporarily resting atop prominent gravestones so that a picture could be taken.


There were several pictures of people lying on the ground right next to markers, and getting

their pictures taken so that their smiling face, the marker and their GPS were all visible.


There were log entries too, some of these said things like:

"There was a freshly dug grave but no one was in it yet, this was so cool."

"It was great fun spooky fun to be out at night in the graveyard."


There were many more pictures and logs as well, and over and over they underscored the "game" aspect of this pasttime, and they showed the worst practices engaged in while cache hunting in grave yards. These images and logs, which had been freely provided by Geocachers in their own log entries, were incredibly damning evidence. They were appalling, and not one of us there could take a stand and defend those practices.


Needless to say, for those of us who were there our tactics changed at this point. We could have talked until we were blue in the face about the educational value of geocaching. That was not going to be disputed. We could have talked about the benefits of CITO. That was not going to be disputed. They were going to talk about disrespect in cemeteries, and they had evidence provided by Geocachers to do so.


It was also apparent as the meeting time approached that the meeting was filling up, and I was not recognizing additional Geocachers coming in.


The other legislative items on the agenda were discussed first, and about twenty five minutes went by before the Geocaching Bill came up for discussion.


The sponsor of the legislation got up and introduced her bill. She talked about how Geocaching started, even referring to the Clinton Administrations actions regarding Select Availability which led to the production of accurate civilian hand held GPS units. She spoke of the general cache hiding and seeking process, and then she told of the assault by geocachers into the cemeteries in her county.


Background- At one point in time there had been a series of cemetery themed multi caches in the Beaufort county area. The owner had done careful research to make sure that all of his chosen locations were in public cemeteries, and he had been very responsive to any complaints found in logs about neighbors & residents who didn't want the visitors in their cemetery. Despite the careful planning and the historical nature of these caches, the influx of primarily white geocaching visitors into these rural historical primarily black cemeteries was noticed, and as some of the cemeteries experienced vandalism or even digging and looting, the local residents became increasingly uneasy with the visitors, many of whom seemed more interested game-playing than in the history of the area.


During her introduction of the topic, she read aloud a handful of logs by people who had found these (and other) cemetery caches.


After she spoke, the next speaker was the State Archaelogist for South Carolina. This gentleman spoke of the impact on Geocaching in sensitive historical and archaeological sites within the states. He had a list of caches which were on or near sensitive sites, and for over a year he had tried to make contact and had not found anyone who was responsive to his issues.


So, it's ten minutes into the discussion of the of this legislation, and here's where we stand:

1. We have pictures of incriminating behavior taken by Geocachers themselves within cemeteries.

2. We have log entries read aloud which show that romping around in cemeteries at night is fun (as opposed to educational and of historical value), and it's even more fun if that was find number 8 of 10 at night.

3. We have the state archaeologist talk about his attempts to contact someone to talk with, and futile that experience has been for him.


The next speaker for the state makes similar comments and makes the point that since it is has not been easy to contact us and since this behavior has gone on for a while, the time for Geocaching to police its own behavior has come to an end, and the state must take action to protect its own sensitive areas, and this includes cemeteries, archaeological sites and historic sites.


And these last two speakers were impassioned. They were folks who had obviously had frustrated by what they perceived as out of control rogue behavior, and they spoke with a force that had built up over time.


Someone for our side spoke next. We had a copy of a letter written by the Geocacher who had created the original Beaufort county cemetery series. In the letter, he explained on how he choose these sites based upon their public access locations and their historical value, and that he never had intended the series to be disrepectful in any way. His letter contained logs from Geocachers who had encountered local residents during their cache hunts, and in all cases but one the contact between Geocachers and local residents was friendly. The letter ended with an apology for any tension that might have been caused by the placement of these caches. Our speaker acknowledged the damning photographs and condemned the actions of those who appeared in them. He thanked the committee for allowing him to speak and took his seat.


The next two persons to speak where from Beaufort county or nearby areas. They were caretakers of cemeteries and other historic sites in the area, and they spoke out in support of this Bill.


There was time for one more speaker, and I spoke. I stated that I had prepared remarks last night and I was fully prepared to talk about the educational benefits of Geocaching and to even mention the responsible Geocachers across the state, but instead I wanted to acknowledge how ugly and indefensible those pictures were. I talked about the Geocachers in the state, the retired missionary and other clergymen, the policemen, the firefighters and paramedics and others. And I said that all these folks would be as appalled to see this evidence as I was. I thanked the chairman for letting me speak, and I took my seat.


The chairman then spoke and acknowledged that since there were so many visitors who had not spoken, that this topic would be continued next week, and it would be the first item on the agenda.


For what it's worth, they had 8 more folks who could have spoken, we had 2 more who were prepared to speak.


I've tried to record these observations as accurately as possible without spinning.


We were definitely caught off guard by how organized the supporters of this legislation were, as well as being caught off guard by all the evidence that we gave them freely through the website. The frustration in their voices seemed genuine. Given the evidence presented to us and the mood of the room, yesterday was not the time or place deliver the positions that we had intended. It was better yesterday to acknowledge how embarrassing the evidence was, and to pledge to work to stop that behavior.


I've typed parts of this hurriedly because I'm running late for an evening engagement. If I've been unclear, please let me know and I'll try and clarify. I plan on being at the second meeting next week, and I hope that we will be able to act from a stronger position at time.


I will post the entire poster boards as they are made available to me, as quickly as possible.



What if they are right in wanting to ban it in cemetaries?


Are we all so self-righteous that we assume geocaching is appropriate everywhere?


Geocaching takes us to places that we might not have visited otherwise. No matter the best intentions of the "group", there will always be people who are going to be disrespectful of these places. With geocaching, these people are going to be drawn to these places, and their disrespectful attitude isn't going to magically change just because they're holding a GPS.


They are absolutely 100% right about this based on the evidence they have been able to present. How apalling! It only takes a few to ruin it for everyone. These cachers should be banned from caching. I'm sorry but that is the way I feel. There is a certain amount of decency and respect that we should have for all aspects of life or death. This has turned from just a game to something better with CITO and the education the "game" provides with it's historical aspects. It's time for the good to reign in the bad. I strongly push the point of banning any cacher that is resposible for such wreckless irresponsible activity.


This discussion is ongoing in the GEOCACHING forum. Read the original 28-page thread at:


South Carolina Proposed Legislation

Link to comment

Very briefly:


First, Paul, I know the term "money shot" very well from the legitimate film business. Think of the train wreck in "The Fugitive" or the plane crash in "Alive!" It means a sequence that is very expensive, but where the spending produces a WOW! moment on the screen. As for its use in the adult film industry, Paul, I guess that's an area where your expertise is greater than mine! ;-)


Seriously, though, I think the South Carolina issue is a cautionary tale, though it seems like the legislators there should be enacting a cemetery desecration law, rather than an anti-geocaching law.


I think that as compared with cachers, we benchmarkers tend to be older, more serious, and more aware of heritage and property issues. But since the South Carolina lawmakers have focused on the worst behavior of a small minority of cachers, it's certainly possible that a few rogue benchmarkers could make things difficult for the rest of us.


Of couse, it's also true that we are performing a public service in addition to having fun, which would be helpful should a similar issue arise with respect to benchmark hunting.


I have found a couple of marks inside cemeteries -- I would imagine they are considered a good location since they are unlikely to be disturbed by building, road widening, etc. -- but it wouldn't occur to me to be disrespectful of the dead.



Link to comment

It sounds like they are going to"Do Something" and so your best strategy may be to try to influence the direction rather than trying to stop it. As mentioned, the focus should be "what gets done in cemeteries", not "what cachers do".


It might go a long way to expedite communication with the people who they have not been able contact and get the problem caches archived NOW so that the caching community does look like it can police itself.

Link to comment
Seriously, though, I think the South Carolina issue is a cautionary tale, though it seems like the legislators there should be enacting a cemetery desecration law, rather than an anti-geocaching law.



Agreed! My fear is that benchmark hunting will be viewed the same as geocaching by the public (and by law enforcement). Negative actions in one hobby will affect the other.


Amateur Radio operators suffered the same fate, for decades. Because many CB operators ran "dirty" transmitters and interfered with television receivers and telephones, any radio antenna was viewed with suspicion. Most subdivision covenants prohibit outside antennas in order to avoid CB-type activity.


And all this grief came, despite a history of public service rendered by Amateur Radio. Getting lumped together with what is perceived as a rogue group is not a good thing!


It would be difficult to enforce, but perhaps the operators of the web site should let it be known that photos and captions which reflect poorly upon the hobby will not be tolerated. Why let the web site feed the egos of those who behave like children? And why allow the web site to become a place to gather evidence against the hobby?


Of course, ultimately it comes down to a matter of personal behaviour. Or, as news commentator Paul Harvey says, "Self government won't work without self discipline." Unfortunately for our society, maturity seems to have taken a back seat to "I am having fun, so don't get in my way".



Link to comment

You make some great points Paul.


It is easy for a person to justify their actions a number of different ways. They don't have to be right or correct, just filled with a selfish self interest. If none of their family's deceased are in this particular cemetery, it makes it ok. Well, ok, in their minds but Not really so in the minds of those who would see it as a trespass, but that is the trespassers common line of thinking. Sure the Cemetery is a public place, but it is also a private place that comes with a unique sort of unwritten code...


A cemetery may not be hallowed ground to all but it is going to be to many. It is revered as a place of respect. Many people will take a dim view of activities which as not appropriate to remembering the deceased in there. It is appropriate to be mindful while we pass through those areas.


If a survey marker is found to be located within the boundaries of a cemetery, and there are some that will, We have to remember that a Cemetery is a place where thousands of people own property, and there are sensitivities we should keep in mind. If we have a survey marker in there we should like to recover, take the datasheet into the Cemetery director and ask permission to locate it, and then do them the favor of doing a real NGS recovery on it.


Cemeteries were used for survey markers because they usually occupy high ground. The were important places on Maps too. This is why the markers were placed there, but they are truly sensitive areas and it is best to be mindful of the feelings of people who may feel more strongly than others will. We can protect our good reputation by being respectful towards all the property owners out there whose permission is only for the asking, if we only would.


If S.C. does come down on this in a way that is not Geocaching friendly, I hope that people catch a clue. While the story has two sides, no one arbitrates in favor of the opposite side, so the future already holds Geocachers feet to the fire for becoming better stewards. Word will travel. It has already gotten this far on a 5 year old Game.


Like you said Paul, It takes only a few.



Link to comment

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • Create New...