Friday, August 28, 2009

Cemetery caches - what's the policy?

If you're a regular reader of the forums at, you may have noticed discussion about an update to the guidelines that mentions caches hidden in cemeteries. The discussion from Groundspeak is summarized in this posting from MissJenn. In a nutshell, the guidelines now include cemeteries as areas where geocaches might not be allowed. Quoting from the guidelines: "Caches placed in areas which are highly sensitive to the extra traffic that would be caused by vehicles and humans (examples may include archaeological or historic sites or cemeteries)." (Boldface added by me.) MissJenn's posting says, in part, "This is why we have local experts (your reviewers) who know the deal in their respective territories. They know the right thing to do. They have been doing that and they’ll continue to do the same."

My standard operating procedure for cemetery caches remains what it has been for several years. When a cache is submitted that is inside a cemetery in Iowa, I temporarily disable the cache and send this note to the cache owner:
"This cache appears to be in a cemetery. Because of complaints about geocachers
playing 'games' in cemeteries across the country, I need to make sure you
received permission from the cemetery owners or caretaker before this is listed.
Also, the cache needs to be placed away from graves so it doesn't upset mourners
who may accidentally find it or see geocachers in the cemetary. Please reply by
posting in a reviewer note the name and contact information of the person who
granted permission for this cache and then re-enable the cache so it reappears
in my review queue. If you don't plan to seek permission, please archive
the listing and remove the cache. Thanks for your understanding."

Therefore, if you are planning to place a cache in a cemetery in Iowa, you'll need to seek permission. Once you receive permission, please be sure to include that information somewhere on the cache page, either in a reviewer note or in the short or long description.

Occasionally, a cache owner will submit a new geocache and state that it is just outside of the cemetery. It happened just this morning. In those cases, I have not been asking the cache owner to seek permission. However, if the cache is hidden on the gate, fence or wall that surrounds a cemetery, I have been asking them to seek permission, because gates, fences and walls are part of the cemetery and owned/maintained by the cemetery owner/groundskeeper.