Cemetery Geocaches Dead And Buried?

gravestoneA Michigan city’s ban on cemetery geocaches could be the death of these hides for everyone, say two American players.

Matt Jones and Carl Gage had to archive their caches at Petoskey’s Greenwood Cemetery earlier this month after officials implemented a ban amid concerns that geocachers had been unnerving mourners.

Cemetery staff announced on July 1st that they would remove all geocaches hidden within their property lines after a complaint of suspicious activity by geocachers was reported the previous month.

According to an article in the Petoskey News, Jennifer Ross was visiting her son’s grave when she noticed some people lurking nearby as they waited for her to leave. “I was terrified,” she said. “I wanted to make sure they weren’t going to disturb what I had planted or anything, because people do sometimes do stuff.”

The group’s actions prompted her to call 911. “I don’t want people hiding stuff by my son’s grave and I think other people would probably want to know what is going on. It’s very disrespectful.”

GWCCemetery superintendent Karl Crawford told media he would contact the affected cache owners to advise them of his decision, however both geocachers complained to It’s Not About The Numbers that they had not received any official notification.

Matt Jones (GC handle: kdnydnr) was alerted to the problem through a text from a friend. His GC2B904 Green Green Greenwood traditional has since been archived after the container was removed by cemetery staff.

“As the president of our local caching group Straits Area Geocachers (SAG), I find it very unfortunate that the cemetery made no effort to contact any of us to reach an amicable solution for everyone. Since I began caching, there has always been at least one cache in Greenwood Cemetery. The cemetery has amazing views of Lake Michigan as well as the beauty of the rolling hills within the grounds. Several cachers have mentioned this beauty in their logs as well as thanking COs for bringing them to the location.


Dead old: The historic Greenwood Cemetery in Petoskey, now minus two geocaches. Photo: SUSAN & BARRY REYNOLDS

“While I respect people’s interest in preserving the location of their departed loved ones, all of the caches within the cemetery (to my knowledge) are placed in areas that would not interfere with any monuments or headstones. As well, none of them should have interfered with any visits by loved ones to the cemetery.”

Jones lists cemetery geocaches as one of his favourite search locations “due to the fact that cemeteries allow a glimpse into the past and can provide a great deal of history to that particular area”.

“I think this is a real loss to the caching community, as well as to the cemetery itself for those that are unaware of the beauty within its boundaries.”

Fellow SAG officer Carl Gage (GC handle: GageClan) removed his GC2ZT00 SQ-Greenwood Cemetery hide a day after reading of the ban in the paper.

Like Jones, he had not heard from cemetery staff. “In my opinion, I don’t see any harm in placing caches in cemeteries, as long as you don’t place them in the middle of a garden or on a headstone. I have other caches in cemeteries around here and if they all decide to do a ban, then a lot of caches will be taken away.”

Despite Greenwood’s geocaching ban, its superintendent still hopes the public will visit this historic Emmet County landmark. The taxpayer-funded cemetery – which was originally designated by the Michigan Legislature in 1897 – overlooks Lake Michigan and is commonly used by joggers and walkers. “It is a 105-acre public cemetery. It would be a shame if it was only being used by people who were coming here to mourn. It has a beautiful view of the bay,” Crawford added.

*Do you think cemetery geocaches are in bad taste? Tell us in the comments section below …


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  1. chunkymunky06

    I have found those caches and I dont recall a one being anywhere near anything that may cause a disturbance. This is a case of someone being hypervigilant and a manager not wanting to be a “bad guy” and tell someone to chill out. Once again, caches suffer. Shame.

  2. authorized users

    Jones lists cemetery geocaches as one of his favourite search locations “due to the fact that cemeteries allow a glimpse into the past and can provide a great deal of history to that particular area”.

    Agreed! It is too bad that one person had to ruin it for all. It just seems that this is how it usually goes for us geocachers. I think they should petition or go to one of the Board meetings and try to get this reversed!!

  3. Ken McGuire

    There was a similar incident at a cemetery near my home. It was in the winter, and there were 5 or 6 new caches all published at the same time. A flock of first to finders met at the gate for opening time and then drove from cache to cache through the morning. Unfortunately, the cemetery management was evidently not prepared for the activity, were alarmed, and asked to have them removed. As is usually the case with cemetery caches, they were not placed in proximity to burial sites, but were on the edges, where they wouldn’t bother anyone, or in shrubs or trees sufficiently far from gravesites.

    It may, in fact, be too late to recover either of these places for geocaching, but it is possible to prevent it from spreading to more of them. If we are going to place caches in cemeteries, the first thing we must do is ask permission, explain the nature of the activity and tell them what to expect. If they envision a horde of people looking for a cache there, show how many people actually visit a cache after the first day or two of publication. The cemetery nearest my home has 3 caches in it. The oldest one was hidden in March 2012. It was found 7 times, the day it published. In the 485 days since, it has been logged 57 times – many of those representing groups of 2 or 3. That is less than one visit a week. Then, give them a profile of the people likely to be caching there. We aren’t vandals, we often take our kids with us and, some of us (like me) are old enough to be thinking about being there full time. Cemeteries were never intended to be centers of doom and gloom. We celebrate our ancestors and our history there, and respect the environment which allows us to do so.

    If we want to preserve the spirit quest caches, we need to do our homework.

    1. authorized users

      Very well said, Ken!

      I don’t think that it was fully thought out, having “5 or 6 new caches all published at the same time,” as it caused that “flock of first to finders” at the gate all at once. They maybe should’ve been published one cache per day to span out the attention they would get. I just think it is something the reviewer, or even the CO, should’ve thought about. But, on the same token, how do you know how many cachers are going to try to be FTF all at the same time? You can’t.

      I don’t know how big the cemetery is, but maybe spacing out the publishing of the caches would’ve helped prevent the ban.

  4. Marie morehouse

    I agree that they should continue to let them place caches in the cemetery.. I love to look at all the old stones and learn a little history.

  5. PaRaDiZ

    I agree with the hidden beauty in these cemetaries, who would see most of these sights without geocaches being placed on the grounds. Some of the older tombstones and monuments offer visitors an amazing sense of knowledge and remberance. Some cemetaries and the “residents” would never have visitors without cachers. I have been in many cemetaries, while Geocaching(as many as 20+ in a day), and respect the grounds and any people that may be visiting loved ones. It’s a shame that one paranoid person, thinks that we would want to steal her planted flowers, can ruin geocaching in cemetaries.

    1. authorized users

      “Some cemetaries and the “residents” would never have visitors without cachers.”


  6. laker91

    I guess I don’t understand the difference between a visitor and a visitor who happens to be a geocacher. I think most geocachers have as much, if not more, respect for history and cemeteries than than most people.

  7. Long Hunter

    I see this as the possible start to a bad trend. Some of my favorite finds have been in cemeteries. I do enjoy learning about the history of the site and some of the folks resting there. Sad news.

  8. algoan

    I honestly can’t blame the woman who was visiting her son’s grave site, when she saw people lurking, obviously waiting for her to leave. Paranoid? Absolutely! I would have been too, if I wasn’t aware of our hobby. I think sometimes GC’ers forget that Muggles can see our activities as suspect — especially when we’re crawling under shrubs, pulling small magnetic containers from fences, etc. Although I have been an avid GC’er since 2003 and cemetery hides are some of my favorites (so I would hate to see them disappear altogether), I don’t think the blame should solely lie on “paranoid” people who have every right to be in the cemetery to visit their loved ones.

    We have to be aware of our surroundings. If there are persons mourning, planting, landscaping, etc. in a cemetery… move on and come back another time.

  9. Ruben H. aka RHCV (@AngelEyesRH)

    Over here in Belgium and The Netherlands it’s already forbidden to place geocaches on cemeteries. The only thing that we can do is make it a multicache with QTA’s on the cemeteries and placing the final stash outside of the cemetery. 😉

  10. Woody104

    Perhaps if cachers had shown some respect by not lurking when mourners were close by, then they wouldn’t be coming to the attention of the ‘authorities’.
    I enjoy cemetery caches as much as the next cacher, but surely a bit more decorum is called for in this situation. If there are people at graves nearby then leave or go and have a look at other areas.
    Imagine how you would feel if people were lurking around, with no obvious motive, whilst you were paying your respects or even visiting the grave of a loved one.
    If causing unease to others is worth FTF bragging rights or a smilie on a pastime website you probably need to give your head a good wobble.

  11. Wellner

    In Sweden there is also a ban on placing caches – not only on cemetarys but on the church area altogether. One of the reasons is that cache owners have been hiding caches in stone walls and the cachers seeking for them have damaged the walls.

  12. ErikaJean

    I love cemetery caches. I hate when they are anywhere near stones though, themake me feel uncomfortable…. that being said if I’m there – I will make the find, IF no one else is around! I don’t mid AS much if they say this is “near my fathers grave stone” of something along those lines.

  13. QuesterMark

    I think South Carolina banned cemetery caches (or a county there did or a big city) a few years ago and that wasn’t the end of cemetery caches anywhere else.

  14. Larry J Simon

    Bonnie and I (Simon Mates) are retired, 70-plus and non-athletic so cemetery hides are among our most-preferred to seek. We even made certain our 1,000th find milestone earlier this year was a cemetery cache. Today we emailed the Petosky Chamber of Commerce to let them know we won’t be needing lodging, meals or gas there since they don’t want us geocaching in their cemetery.

  15. Jennifer Ross

    As I was putting my son down for bed tonight, waiting for him to fall asleep, I decided to google my name…What could it hurt, right? Allow me to introduce myself. I’m Jennifer Ross. I am extremely hurt by some of these comments, and thankful for the few that were a voice for me. First, “paranoid” would not be the proper term for a mother that is kneeling over her son’s grave, as someone watches from afar. How incredibly rude. I was planting a beautiful plant for my son and cleaning off his stone…whispering “I love you’s.” To know that I was watched doing these very things makes me feel violated to say the least.

    I have heard of geocaching, but never really knew the extent that one did to find your treasures. It sounds like a lot of fun, whether by yourself, or along with the family. I have no problem with it at all. But when it is affecting someone (myself)–not knowing what is even happening–it can make a person (myself) feel very vulnerable. It was not my intention to rain on your parade, or rather ruin your finds. Please take a moment and view it in my eyes.

    I agree that Greenwood Cemetery is absolutely beautiful…that is why my son was buried there. To have peace surround him, as he rests in peace…though my beliefs know that it is only a body left, and his soul is safely enjoying the beauty and joy of heaven. I never thought that someone may take the plant that I had freshly planted. I said that I did not want anyone to bury their treasures under the plant where my son lay.

    Cemeteries hold history. You may be able to try and figure out the story of someone by the pictures engraved on their stone, or an embedded photo capturing the beautiful smile that they once shared with the world. You may ask the grounds keeper to take you around and learn of some unique history, but overall, you will not know if you do not inquire.

    You see, the real treasures are buried six feet under. The stories of these people now gone, would have to be shared by their loved ones. Not everyone buried there has died from a long fulfilled life. Many were surrounded by loved ones as they slowly suffered with cancer overtaking their body. Maybe, some are young men and women who have died serving our country. Some may have been found dead after a drug overdose. Or, some were found after committing suicide. A drunk driving accident, or falling asleep at the wheel. Men, women and precious children…from the ages of infancy all the way past 100 years old. The cemetery can “hold” many painful memories for some, as they try to find peace in their now changed world.

    My son’s stone does not tell the story of his mother holding him in her arms, as he slowly struggled for life. Fifteen minutes is all that I got, in the place of a lifetime. My heart has been broken into a million pieces. I find peace when I visit him and am able to “mother” him in the only way I am able to here on this earth. I have a tiny piece of land in a cemetery, and a voice to share his life.

    Please take my words to heart and try to see it standing in my shoes…I am truly sorry that I have offended many people who enjoy searching for caches in the cemetery.

  16. Jennifer Ross

    I see that my comment is awaiting moderation. If you feel that it is best to just read and not share, that would be okay with me. I really don’t want to start any negativity. I was a little scared in sharing my heart, but wanted to at least apologize to the main one who runs this site. I really am sorry for hurting people who enjoyed the search in the cemetery. It is just one of the saddest places that I visit, and it scared me when the whole thing happened. I had know idea what was going on. If I knew what was going on, I may have viewed it differently, than in fear.

    Please accept my apology.

    Thank you,

    Jennifer Ross

    1. Yvonne Mangum

      My heartfelt sympathies for your loss. I too have an angel baby… and it would be nice if the WHOLE WORLD of people were a little more considerate and respectful of anyone visiting a gravesite. My apologies for the geocachers that made you feel intruded upon and nervous that day… it was totally uncalled for. In every walk of life, in every hobby and sport, there are those that are more focused on themselves than the people around them; and they can cause discomfort no matter where it happens. But we need especially to be considerate of our fellow human beings when we are suffering… that is the only thing about cemetary caches that bothers me, the potential for disregard of another person at their more vulnerable time. Peace be with you…

  17. Allenite's Mom

    When I first got into geocaching, I thought cemetery caches to be disrespectful. But over time, my opinion changed completely. I now have 3 caches placed in cemeteries, one which is very special because it brings remembrance to a lady forgotten by the township that was suppose to provide perpetual care but didn’t, and sadly this lady froze to death all alone in the first place. But more to subject, if we go to a cemetery for a cache we are very mindful of someone who is there to pay their respect to a departed. We have left in some cases because that is what the situation called for.

  18. Jim Wulff

    In Colorado, we have a “Colorado Spirit Quest” series. They are fascinating and I love to find them. The ones I have done are generally around “old West” type cemeteries and are placed just outside the fence. This seems to be a reasonable approach. Of course, in the west we have lots of public land on which to hide caches, so maybe it is not as big an issue out here.

  19. LA

    Ms. Jennifer Ross- I am so sorry for your loss. Please accept my condolences, and my apologies on the behalf of my fellow caching community members. I’m mortified by the behavior of those that caused you discomfort, and hope that we all take this consequence as a wake up call and reminder to treat those around us with respect.
    Peace to you and your loved ones.

    1. Jennifer Ross

      Thank you, LA. I appreciate your kind words …

  20. twu07090

    Hello Jennifer. I found your book on Amazon, so sorry for your loss. I too apologize for the situation you encountered. Geocachers come at all experience levels, and the ones you saw should have known better. There are 4 caches in the cemetery my parents are buried in, and one of them is about 200 feet away. I did in fact once encounter a Geocacher while visiting, and they stayed in their car, and waited for me to leave. Additionally, it was a lone female, and I of course knew about the cache. At the very least, I would have taken the same action she did, or even just leave. I didn’t talk to her, as she didn’t exit the vehicle until after I was gone, but I appreciate her respect and behavior.

    1. Jennifer Ross

      Thank you, twu07090. What happened is forgivable. The thing that hurts the most was the post written about me and the hurtful comments that followed. It only takes seconds for someone to try on the shoe of another. Just to sit and ponder how I felt during that visit. I understand that it may be difficult to tap into those feelings if one hasn’t experienced a loved ones painful death. That is why I tried explaining it in my 1st. comment above.

      (I’m happy to see that you found my book on Amazon. It’s just a little I could give back to my precious boy, and glory to God through my pain.)

      Blessings …

  21. stephen Sayres

    Jennifer I too am sorry for your loss. What I dont get is the superintendent wont allow caches but encourages people to continue to visit the cemetery. I could see someone being respectful of someone to finish at a grave site and it being mistaken as being there to do harm or mischief and having the police called on them. One incident shouldnt spoil it for everyone. Move the caches to an older part of the cemetery or main area. Just my hunble opinion.

  22. Mike

    Guess that’s why you need to get permission first. I have a memorial cache in a cemetery where my wife is buried and have no fear of it being removed because I received permission from the director.

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