Cleburne Times-Review, Cleburne, TX

Cleburne

June 22, 2009

Geocachers respond, defend high-tech hobby

A June 9 article on Geocaching in Johnson County cemeteries generated a flurry of e-mails and comments.

Doris Lanfear, president of the Johnson County Cemetery Association, and Johnson County Sheriff’s Office deputy Jim Sloan contacted the Times-Review recently to discuss Geocaching caches found throughout some of the 35 cemeteries maintained by the JCCA and JCSO work crew members. Neither opposed the activity but said they don’t think it should be carried out in cemeteries.

An attempt to reach Geocaching.com for comment on the matter received no response.

Geocachers from across the country responded after the article ran, however, eager to defend their hobby.

“Geocaching is a high-tech treasure hunting game played throughout the world by adventure seekers equipped with GPS devices,” according to the organization’s Web page. “The basic idea is to locate hidden containers, called geocaches, outdoors and then share your experiences online.”

Geocaching is more a social and educational activity than a treasure hunt, said Harry Downer, president of the Texas Geocaching Association.

“It’s not people running around cemeteries playing like fools hiding geocaches,” Downer said. “It’s about finding unique locations, educational really, and about exploring the world around you. The treasure hunting aspect is really in the background.”

Geocaches found by Sloan and work crew members in Johnson County cemeteries consist of plastic containers holding inexpensive toys, trinkets and notes. Geocachers typically sign a log proving they’ve found the location and geocache, Downing said. Notes sometimes provide clues to another geocache, he said. Some participants trade items in and out upon finding a geocache, Downing said, but many play simply to visit and enjoy the history of the targeted location.

Geocacher Matthew Allen responded by e-mail to the June 9 article and mentioned his brother, killed three years ago by a drunk driver.

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