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.


Parabola said...

I just saw a little bit of it in the forum's. Personally I think that's too bad. I do enjoy cemetery caches, but the area is always treated with respect. If someone is visiting a grave, I'll leave, if a service is going on, I'll leave. I can always come back another time.

I do have one cemetery cache left. But it wasn't a big deal to ask permission, but the groundskeeper is a friend of the family. He had no problem's with it, but just requested I said on the write up to please obey all rules, like area is closed at sundown and such.

But I do see the flip side of the coin as well. If a problem is created at one hide, it can have a negative affect on others and people's permission's to hide a cache there. But I think that is more a of disrespectful thing. All cacher's should be following the rules of the area's and don't break them, cause it may not affect the cache hunter, but the cache owner.

I've had to archive 2 so far, because someone couldn't walk 30 feet and made it a drive up cache so the land owner has said it's got to go. :(

But back to Cemetery caches. I've always like them. I like to see the older headstone's that where carved into stuff like big stump's. It's neat to see the craftsmanship that went into those.

Would this affect a virtual stage of a cache as well? Like getting a date off a certain tombstone? But the cache is outside of the cemetery.

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welch said...

"Would this affect a virtual stage of a cache as well? Like getting a date off a certain tombstone? But the cache is outside of the cemetery."

That's something I would like to hear the answer to this question. Since I can think of at least 3 caches that have info gathering virtual stages.

IowaAdmin said...

Sorry I neglected to respond earlier to Parabola's question about virtual stages of a cache in a cemetery. Since there's no chance of a groundskeeper accidently finding a virtual waypoint, you don't have to explicity demonstrate permission for virtual waypoints that are located in a cemetery. You should, however, in your description instruct geocachers to be respectful of other people in the cemetery, alive and dead, and post hours that the virtual waypoints are available. For most cemeteries this mean daylight hours only, unless the cemetery is well-lighted and nighttime visitors are commonplace and would not raise suspicion.

donj51 said...

How do you find the groundskeeper to get their approval?

donj51 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
IowaAdmin said...

Donj51, the answer to your question depends on the cemetery. If it's a city or county owned cemetery, the logical place to start would be city hall or the county courthouse, perhaps the clerk's office. If it's an old rural cemetery, the county courthouse may be able to steer you in the right direction about who owns the cemetery. It may take a little footwork on the part of the cache owner.