The Next Rant… When your local association isn’t what it should be.
Lately I have been hearing from cachers who have left their local associations (or never joined in the first place), due to differences in opinion with the leaders of the group.
First there is Mary; Mary was only 6 months into geocaching when she decided to place some different caches around town
, her idea was she should pay the locals back for all the fun she had been having finding their caches. A small contingent from the local
association decided that one fine saturday they should make a day of finding all her newly placed caches, only to find they did not approve of mary’s placements
or choice of containers, each person in the group left Mary nasty notes on her cache page, telling her to “get to a meeting! you don’t know what you’re doing!” and calling
her out as an idiot on the local forum discussion page. Needless to say, Mary was in tears and swore she would never have anything to do with the local group ever if this is the way they behaved to newbies.
I, myself tried to comfort Mary to no avail, she was hurt, she swore up and down she would never go to a meeting or a group meal with these “jerks” ever. I thought surely if more time went by she would
change her mind, but the sting of being called names never went away for her, last time I contacted her, she replied, “I don’t cache that much anymore, the events of last year sort of left a bad taste in my mouth”
Shame, Mary only wanted to contribute, too bad the local cachers could not have been more polite and gracious, they could have had a fabulous person in thier ranks, instead they have yet another person who sees them as
“stuck-up” snobs and “elitest jerks”.
Then there is Jeff, Jeff and I met and corresponded over the internet, we became geo-friends. Jeff had an extra obstacle to overcome caching as he is partially disabled and can not do extremely long
walks or rough terrain. I gave Jeff some advice on how to find caches that would suit his needs physically, how to run a pocket query, and encourged Jeff to not cache beyond his physical capabilities. Only after caching for a week and finding
only a few caches, Jeff presented himself at a local event cache to meet the cachers in his area. The group regularily meets for lunch and then goes out caching in the area as a group. Jeff was told he could not participate in the outing as his disability would only
“slow them down” Jeff asked politely if next time the itinerary for the day could be somewhat changed to accomadate his needs, he was told a flat out “no”. Needless to say that was Jeffs’ first, last, and only meeting with the locals. Jeff was also left with “a bad taste in his mouth” and now only
sees his local association as “snooty”. Shame, Jeff still had a lot of questions about the sport, but as he said “I certainly will never be going to them for advice.”
Next there is Karen, Karen is a little different in the fact she had been with her local association for over 2 years and enjoyed the comeraderie and swapping stories aspect of meeting with other cachers. Karen has always been the type of person who picks up litter while caching, respects the environment,
and recycles everything. Karen is also extremely animal friendly and takes home every abandoned baby bird and critter she finds, dilegently nurses them back to health, then releases them back to the wild. Karen was out one day picking up some newly placed
caches in her area. She came across a recently placed cache that had metal bands wrapped around a living tree secured in place by large bolts drilled into the tree itself. Without a second thought, she left a needs archived note on the cache page and reported the hide to local reviewers saying that “the cache should be removed,
not only is the tree now irrepairably damaged, the metal band crosses a hole in the tree that may endanger the welfare of the local fauna.” Karen could not have known when she did this, the s%*t storm she was about to stir up. The cache had been placed by the leader of her local association, who did not appriciate
being told by someone “who doesn’t have one tenths of the finds I do” That thier cache needed archiving. She was told via e-mail that her presence was no longer welcome at meetings if she could not be a “team player” and tell them to their face, rather than “rat them out”.
Needless to say Karen was very hurt by this, she only did what she thought was environmentally correct, too bad her local geo friends could not have stuck up for her, but when she asked them to do just this, their reply was “I don’t want to get involved, or I could get kicked out too”
About a year ago, on my last vacation, I met a nice young man named Kevin, we both arrived at a cache location with the tell-tale GPS swinging around our necks. We exchanged pleasantries and swapped a few stories, he gave me some advice on some great caches that were in the area and a good hint on a very cleverly concealed one. (Thanks for that Kev.)
When I asked if there was a local geo association in the area, Kevin rolled his eyes, and replied “There is, but they’re a bunch of jerks” When I pressed him for further info, he simply replied “Apparently if you have an opinion that the group doesn’t share, you are not welcome at local events” Too bad, Kevin is probably one of the nicest people I have ever
met while caching. I hope his local association one day realizes what they missed out on by ostracizing Kevin from their ranks. They probably never will, because Kevin will never be going to another event cache again.
In closing, I would encourage cachers who can see themselves or others in these paragraphs to pass along my blog to leaders in geocaching communities. Local associations should never be “elitist” or “exclusive” to only those who share a common opinion, or physical
capabilities. If you find someone who feels ostracized by the local community, please try to befriend them and see their side to things. Just because a cacher does not have ten thousand finds to their name does not mean they have nothing of value to contribute to a meeting, or social event. In business practices that involve dealing with the public,
the general rule of thumb is “for every complaint you hear about, there are about 20 you don’t hear about, these people just simply take their business elsewhere” Unfortunately in most geo communities there is not a second choice of association to join, apparently it is “my way, or the hi-way” in certain geo groups. Let’s stop this practice right now, and
make sure our local associations don’t become places where “certain people” are made to feel left out. I have noticed that in some geo groups the leaders of the clan never change, perhaps players should start demanding elections for leadership of their groups, so that players with a passion for the sport and a sense of fair play by all become leaders and
players with a sense of self importance and elitism stay out of leadership roles. If you can see the leaders of your association anywhere in this blog post it is probably way past time someone stood up to them, even if it means being ostracized yourself. Let’s do what is right here, these are only the stories I have heard about. How many similar ones are in your community? How many more people have to leave
before members of these groups wise up and say to themselves “gee, maybe we ARE snobs!” You could be a hero to these people or a coward who just goes along with the status-quo. How do you want to remember your caching career?