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Thursday, October 18, 2012

Geocaching And Explosives Do Not Mix

Geocaching in the media for the most part makes me very happy. With everything from articles about how geocachers help clean up their communities with CITO events, how Geocaching can bring education to a community and when Geocaching brings business to businesses. All positive in their own right. Yet for every positive there is also the negative. My point of discussion today deals with bomb scares and Geocaching. Now before you start thinking "HeadHardHat do you really want to go there?". I know that this a veritable hotbed of discussion, I know that it is not a popular subject and there are very strong opinions which bring up all sorts of emotions. You also know that I say what is on my mind even if the subject is not all puppies and hugs. To me as a member of the Geocaching community and the media it is important to talk about ALL aspects of our game, sport and obsession otherwise how do we solve unpleasant issues. So whether you like my opinions or not at least contemplate what I am trying state and make up your own minds. You are a part of the Geocaching community too.

Last week while recording an episode of Geocaching World (RVNN.tv) Courtney Wallin and I talked about a recent article in the news that told a familiar story of how the bomb squad was called out into a forest area to take care of a suspicious object. This object turned out to be placed on the back of a DNR sign and was in the form of an aluminum hand grenade. A fricken HAND GRENADE. If you have read articles like this in the past you know I am usually on the side of a geocacher and that usually a muggle stumbles on a Geocache and reports it to the police. It happens and in many cases could have either been placed just a little bit better or was a bad judgement call from an inexperienced Cacher. It's unfortunate but again it happens and is part of our world.

This particular story though got under my skin, why? We have been living in a post nine eleven world for some time now. No, for the most part we do not think that a terrorist is going to pop out of every darkened shadow nor do we allow ourselves to become complacent and stop our awareness either. So when a geocacher in this day and age purposely puts out a Geocache that intentionally looks like a bomb or worse an actual explosive needs to be bare knuckle back handed. There is absolutely no place for it in this game. Now before all the buts and what-abouts start pouring in I know there can be a lot of grey area here. I personally have made PVC Geocaches but none of them have wires sticking out, are well marked and do not give any inkling that they are a bomb, so lets keep the grey area items under the umbrella of using good common sense with anything that may be troublesome for another time. I am talking about specific, deliberate containers made to look like a bomb.  

I cannot believe an experienced geocacher placed this hand grenade Geocache. If it was the knuckles need to go a flying and the words "what the hell were you thinking?", need to be said. My quandary is how do we get the word out more to new geocachers to not make this mistake? We have shows like Geocaching World, Geocaching Podcast, Podcacher and others that are there for you every week with valuable Geocaching insights. We have been doing it for years. How are we letting new geocachers slip through the cracks without the correct knowledge? What can we do to bring more awareness? I know you can't fix stupid but we sure can try to reduce the stupidity. What can be done to help perpetuate our sport and getting the word out to our newer members? What do you think?

So there it is, I am throwing the ball back to you fine folks. The media can only do so much. We need your voice as well to not only carry our views but yours as well. Suggestions, comments, we want to know. Please email them to headhardhat@gmail.com. I will compile them and let you know the results.

Stepping off my soapbox... Thanks.

Andy Headhardhat Smith



Unknown said...

Here you can see what happens when the police thinks a geocache is a bomb


Dave DeBaeremaeker said...

I can see this being a newbie error. It is common to have caches that scare you - rubber snakes or spiders that jump out at you when you retrieve the container for example. This could be an extended version of this... by someone with bad taste and a poor understanding that bombs are bad.

I think this could also be an example of a bigger issue. That issue being that it is very easy to forget that when you become a geocacher, you join a community of cachers. Often people cache alone, or in a small group of the same people, and it is very easy to lose focus (or never get focused) on the idea that your individual actions affect the community as a whole.

I think it is really important that new cachers get introduced in person to other cachers as soon as possible. Have them join the local geocaching group, and get reminded up front that they are a part of a community, and they should do their best to help, not hinder, this community.

This is one reason why I am getting soured on the idea of spreading the word of geocaching so wild and freely. We shouldn't be saying "Oh its easy, just go do it". Rather we should ne encouraging mentoring of new cachers.

95% of issues I've heard with geocachers stem from this. It leads to selfish behaviour, and poor choices. Not cause the person is necessarily selfish or stupid, but rather because they are not considering the community as a whole.

Because of this grenade incident cachers globally are looked in a slightly different light. Whoever this cacher was should take note of this, and take steps to correct it.

This needs to be talked about more - not just this incident, but the character of geocachers as a whole. It is degrading rapidly, and its quite sad to see.

Podcasters - please take note, There are years worth of topics that can be discussed simply with lessons that should be learned from this incident.