Geocaching on TV

CTV London Geocaching

Click image to view video. By Dave Stephens

The OGA was recently contacted by CTV out of London in order to learn more about geocaching.   The OGA executive for Southwestern Ontario, Dave Stephens,  along with Masterninja joined the reporter for some geocaching.   Click on the image to see the piece that aired on CTV.   Thanks Dave and Matt for helping spread the word!

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Selective Geocaching Ban

We were notified earlier this week that effective June 1, 2013 the Bruce Trail Conservancy has selectively banned physical geocaches along 12% of the Bruce Trail.   Only lands owned or directly managed by the Bruce Trail Conservancy are affected.

Earth caches or other “virtual” geocaches may be approved with prior approval from the Bruce Trail Conservancy.   It has been explained to the Conservancy that virtual caches cannot get published but they are referring to any non-physical geocache.

The policy notice that we received on June 24th can be found here – BTC Policy

We are characterizing this as a ban because that is effectively what it is.   The Conservancy had minimal engagement from the previous OGA executive before they imposed their policy.   The Conservancy made no attempt to contact the current executive in the past five months and no draft policy was ever provided for comment or feedback.

Any cache within the 12% of the trail affected will need to be removed.  The BTC has not told us which part of the trail this is so we can’t provide guidance on that.  Only the BTC can tell if the cache is on owned land.  We will provide more guidance if it becomes available.   Keep in mind that the Conservancy only has this kind of authority on land it owns or directly manages.   The land owner is the only person that can determine was is allowed and what isn’t.  If you have already sought land owner approval then your cache will not be affected.

The BTC decision occurred in part because of an incident where caches were placed without permission causing a land owner to revoke permission for the trail to pass through their property.   Understandably the BTC had to take action.   In our estimation this action is heavy handed and could have been resolved in a way that works for both communities.

The Conservancy’s annual general meeting is coming up in September.  We will be petitioning to get geocaching added to the agenda for that meeting.    If you are a member of the Bruce Trail Conservancy we encourage you to share your thoughts about this new policy directly with the Conservancy.   Email:  info@brucetrail.org

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Getting Permission

geocache hideMost geocachers know that you need permission from the land manager or where you intend to place your cache before you actually hide the cache.   Some areas have official policies and some do not.   Regardless of whether or not the land manager has a stated geocaching policy you should always seek approval.

Some definitions are in order.

Permission is defined  as:

  1. authorization granted to do something; formal consent
  2. the act of permitting.

Implied permission is defined as:

Implied permission, in the context of real property, means conduct or words or both that imply that an owner or occupant of land has agreed to another person’s use of or ability to enter land. Each case is judged on its individual facts, but some of the facts that may be considered include:

  1. The other person’s awareness of the use/activity
  2. The length of time of the activity/use.
  3. The lack of objection to the activity/use

In simple terms:

PERMISSION must be granted by a land owner or land manager. IMPLIED PERMISSION where it already exists, gives  use to the land/property for it’s intended usage.

For example:

You HAVE permission to enter and use the parking lot at Walmart, this is Implied Permission, because the land/property owner intends you to park there, while your in their store.

You NEED permission to hide a Geocache in their cart return. You do not have implied permission to do this, as hiding a geocache in their cart return, is not a normal activity for said cart return, the land/property owner, expects it’s land/property users to only use the cart return, for returning their carts, so as you do not have to return the cart inside the store.

In order to hide a geocache in/on the cart return, you would have to contact the land/property and ask PERMISSION.

Continue reading

Posted in Help, Newsletter 04/13 | Comments Off

Beginner’s GPS for Geocachers

The world of handheld GPS receivers can be quite confusing, both before and after buying one. So here’s an attempt to narrow down the choices for beginning geocachers…

Your smartphone

Geocaching.com AppIf you have a smartphone, it’s a great place to start. You’ll need a geocaching app for it (and there are free ones available). The downsides? Using the phone’s GPS will drain the battery quickly, visibility in bright light is an issue and it may not be as accurate as a dedicated GPS. Oh, and it’s not ruggedized or waterproof, so if you drop it, well, it could be more expensive than just buying a GPS!

Geomate.jr

Geomate jr.  GPSrThe Geomate.jr is a geocaching only device that comes preloaded with 250,000 caches. But it was sold to another company and the support has been iffy. Plus, you’ll likely need an update kit to go along with it, so I’d stay away from this one. MSRP $69.99.

Garmin eTrex 10

Garmin etrex 10 GPSrStepping up to the eTrex 10 will get you paperless caching support, meaning you can load recent logs, hints, descriptions, etc. to the device. The downsides to this model are its monochrome screen and very poor basemap. On the plus side, it’s good for hiking too as long as you don’t need a map, since it will navigate waypoints, tracks and routes. MSRP $109.99

Magellan eXplorist GC

Magellan Explorist GC GPSrThe eXplorist GC is a geocaching-only unit that has a detailed and nearly world-wide basemap of roads. It also has a color screen and supports paperless caching. The biggest downsides are a hard to read screen (especially in bright light) and an interface that could stand some improvement. Still a good deal for the money though. MSRP $149.99

Garmin eTrex 20

Garmin etrex 20 GPSrThe eTrex 20 is my choice if you can swing it. It has a bright (although small) color screen, supports paperless caching and can accommodate a full range of mapping options (and there are many sources of free user-created maps available for Garmin devices). It’s a great GPS for hiking too. MSRP $199.99

For the truly committed

If you’ve spent some time geocaching and are really ready to dive in, you may want to step up beyond these entry-level models. My current favorite is the Garmin GPSMAP 62s, but the soon to be released Oregon 600 series is worth taking a look at. For Magellan fans I like their eXplorist 510.

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OGA Zones

Ontario is a very large province.  Since inception the OGA has maintain executive positions for 5 regions within the province.  Each region is also has regional representatives that can assist with local initiatives.    To give you a better sense of our regions we created this map.

OGA Zones

OGA Zones

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Essential Gear

single AA headlampThe results of a facebook survey indicate that 98% of all geocachers have at some point cached at night.  Sometimes that’s on purpose, they are looking for a night cache and other times the desire for one more find outweighed the need for daylight.   Whatever your reason for being in the woods at night you should considering leaving a flashlight in your pack at all times.   A small headlamp that uses AA batteries is a good choice if you intend on being out at night.  Most GPS units use AA batteries so your spare batteries will work in your AA  flashlight.

Here is an important tip if you keep a flashlight in your pack but rarely use it.   Consider using either alkaline batteries or low self-discharge rechargeable batteries such as the eneloop brand.    Typical NiMH rechargeable batteries lose 1% of their storage capacity per day of storage.  They are almost unusable after 30 days.

Posted in Geocaching, Newsletter 04/13, Sponsor | 1 Comment

President’s Message

We have just started 2013 and along with a new year we also have a new executive.   Effective February first the new OGA executive positions have taken effect.   A few of the previous executives have moved on to other challenges but a core group of previous executives remain engaged ensuring continuity.   I’d like to thank the past executives for their contributions over the previous two years.

For the last few years I’ve been the webmaster for the association.   Last year I decided I wanted to bring my passion for geocaching to a leadership position.  I believe that excitement is catching and I hope to get others interested our game in ways that are sustainable for all.   Geocaching continues to gain in popularity; it is very close to mainstream now.   While this increased popularity is good for the game overall it does bring with it some challenges, most notably, land use issues.

The last year has seen a number of land managers, land owners and trail management groups take exception to geocaching.   In some cases the issue was just a simple misunderstanding that was easily resolved, in other cases the issue led to the removal of geocaches.   The OGA has been active in helping resolve some of these situations as they arose.  I believe that going forward we will have to be proactive in our approach to land manager issues.   It is for this reason that we have already started meeting with conservation authority managers and plan on doing that throughout the year.  I have found the better someone understands something the easier it is to find a compromise in a contentious issue.   Members of the executive will continue to be a voice for geocaching within their communities and across the province.   We have already had a meeting with the Toronto Region Conservation Authority.  They are very receptive to responsible geocaching.   We hope build on this relationship and others that we’ve created in the past.

During my mandate I plan on focusing on three areas:  Outreach, Education and Operations.   I believe these are areas that we can have the most impact in helping keep geocaching a sustainable activity.  How we’ll be working on those areas will have to be decided in consultation with the executive and you our members.

We had our first executive meeting recently and I’m excited by the willingness of the executive to work to improve geocaching in Ontario.  We’ll be sure and report back to you on what is discussed and how you can be a part of our plans.  The members of the OGA executive are very approachable people.  If you see us on the trails or at an event feel free to talk to us.   You can also engage with us on Facebook, Twitter, our forums or in emails.

I’m looking forward to the next two years.

Sincerely,

John A Robb
President

Posted in Associations, Newsletter 03/13, Newsletter 2013 | Comments Off

Trailhead Ontario Conference

Trailhead Ontario ConferenceFrom June 9-11 the Ontario Trails Council will be hosting the Trailhead Ontario conference.  The conference brings together trail users, designers, builders and managers.    This is an excellent opportunity to raise awareness about Geocaching in Ontario with users and groups that share the trails with us.

We have been asked to participate in the tourism panel that is taking place on Monday afternoon.  John Robb from the OGA will be representing the association.

You may want to attend the conference or just subscribe to the Ontario Trails Council newsletter.

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New Executive Committee

After two years of service it was time for the election of a new OGA executive.   Deadline for nominations was January 1, 2013.   Elections were not required as there was only one candidate for each of the open positions that have been filled.   The new executive takes effect on February 1, 2013.   The first order of business for the new executive will be to fill the vacant positions.

President – John R.
Vice President – Ralph S.
Treasurer – Lucas C.
Golden Horseshoe – Gregory P.
Northern – Steve B.
Southwestern – Donny M.
Central - Mark H.
Eastern – Joe T.

Secretary – Vacant
Webmaster – Vacant

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Membership Accounts

At the end of last year we updated the OGA website to allow for member log ins.    We are currently transitioning all member accounts to the new member management tools.   Very soon you will receive an email with information on how to access the member only content of the website.  You can always recover your password by using the “forgot password” option on the top right of the sidebar.

There is currently very little member only content but we’ll be adding more soon.   Stay tuned.

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