SLAGA HISTORY

SLAGA Logo

 

(Published June, 2009)

2001
The beginning
“Not on my land!”
Internet meeting place
2002
More ways to communicate
SLAGA web site
Tension over geocaching
Meet your government agents
SLAGA becomes a formal organization
SLAGA Territory
The Original ‘Cache Machine’
Working with park officials
2003
*gln becomes local geocache reviewer
Training classes
Brawny Bear leads the way
Elected SLAGA Officers
2004
MOGA
More training classes
Elected SLAGA Officers
2005
No more PVC
Advertising
Elected SLAGA Officers
2006
Membership dues
Losing a friend
Elected SLAGA Officers
2007
WOW – St. Louis
Member choice awards
GPS receiver purchase
Elected SLAGA Officers
2008
“A Window on Geocaching”
ParkPalooza
Elected SLAGA Officers
Milestone awards
2009
SLAGA geocoin
Service awards
MOGA becomes SLAGA event
Missouri Dept. of Conservation geocaching policy
slaga.org
The SLAGA trailer
2010
Webmaster transition
SLAGA pathtags
MOGA continues to grow
Elected SLAGA Officers
You Are Our Future

 

 

 

Barramus oneball *gln wtmrn sqrly1 zuker

Peggy Bonz jimjann & family JoA myotis denali Tobie

The beginning

In September 2001, a group of people who enjoyed the new hobby of using GPS technology to search for hidden containers in the woods (aka ‘geocachers’) got together and had a picnic at Rockwoods Reservation, 30 miles southwest of St. Louis, Missouri. The group consisted of geocachers with hobby nicknames like: *gln, JoA, Barramus, Bonz, Mean Gene, myotis, curtispeggy, jimjann, oneball, denali, wtmrn, AndiM, sqrly1, and zuker. This was a chance for them to put faces to the names they had come to know only by reading each other's comments on the internet about their geocaching adventures. They had a great time grilling food and playing games. Since there was no such thing as an event cache, to commemorate the event, they created a geocaching.com account called the St. Louis Geocachers Association and placed a geocache called Picnic Memorial Cache. Here is a log from the group's first cache:

 

September 30, 2001 by *gln
The picnic was great and it looks like everybody had a good time. We are looking forward to many more to come. Many thanks to WTMRN, Steve, Connie and the rest of the St. Louis geocaching team.

**Glenn & JoA, St. Louis, Mo

 

 

“Not on my land!”

As the hobby of geocaching grew in Missouri, the managers of public land such as the Missouri Department of Natural Resources (responsible for Missouri State Parks) and the Missouri Department of Conservation (responsible for conservation areas– aka "C.A.") took a skeptical view of the activity of placing containers on land they where responsible for. The local geocachers speculated this was due to not understanding the motives and concept behind their hobby.

 

According to public land guidelines at this time, any object, such as a geocache, left overnight was considered trash and treated as such. In contrast – to geocachers, the idea was to leave the geocache in the woods at a specific set of coordinates so others could hunt for it over many months – even years.

 

Not long after the Picnic Memorial Cache was placed, it was confiscated by the Rockwoods Reservation area manager. *gln had a lengthy meeting with the head ranger, who eventually allowed the cache to be moved to Edmund Babler Memorial State Park. The cache was renamed, Eddie’s Picnic Friends.

 

 

Internet meeting place

In 2001, the newly formed geocaching group had about 20 members, and there were about 100 active geocaches within 100 miles of St. Louis. In response to a growing need for geocachers in the St. Louis area to talk to communicate with each other, *gln created an internet discussion area called The Local News. It was hosted on the most popular web site about geocaching - www.geocaching.com. This was not a find-able cache. You could only leave notes. But it became an electronic gathering place to talk about geocaching and share personal stories regarding interaction with public land managers.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In world ranking according to geocaching.com, SLAGA member Denali was ranked #3 with 261 finds, BruceS ranked #10 with 210 and *gln ranked #13 with 195.

 

 

 

More ways to communicate

As the “Local News” internet discussion area was growing too large to manage in its current format, *gln created an internet newsgroup called the Geocaching Freelist. (It still exists, as of the publication of this document). It became a communication conduit for impromptu get-togethers, asking advice on buying GPS receivers and discussion of anything related to the hobby of geocaching.

 

 

 

 

 

 

SLAGA web site

Not long after the newsgroup was established, Island-Dave created a St. Louis Geocaching Association web site under the domain name of www.geostl.com that would become a public source of information about geocaching in the St. Louis area. konopapw later took over webmaster duties.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tension over geocaching

As the density of caches across the world increased, so did the tension between geocachers and public land managers. There were no formal policies describing how to deal with geocaches placed on public land, let alone recognition of geocaching as a healthy, family-oriented form of recreation. People not aware of geocaching began to accidently stumble upon geocaches hidden in the woods. They would either take the container home, or alert the authorities of a "suspicious" container. In one case, the Gilligan’s Island cache on Howell Island C.A. was found by a hunter who disapproved of the hobby taking place in a conservation area where he hunted. He wrote a nasty note in the cache’s logbook. Later, the cache was confiscated by a local land manager.

 

The knee-jerk reaction of government authorities toward geocaches was that they represented something illegal. Containers were confiscated and/or destroyed. A blanket ban of geocaches in U.S. National Parks was announced, mainly due to the fear that sensitive areas would be devastated by a sudden influx of hoards of hobbyists who did not respect the land.

 

On February 5, 2002, managers of the Missouri Mark Twain National Forest held a public meeting at the Powder Valley Conservation Nature Center to discuss future regulations for the U.S. Forest Service. A contingency of SLAGA members attended the meeting, with the goal of talking about geocaching with Nancy Feakes, Multi-use Recreation Manager, about caches hidden in areas managed by the U.S. Forest Service. The controversy at the time was reflected in some of the cache logs:

Bell Mountain Wilderness cache:

January 30, 2002 by Daviskw (51 found)
I will be removing this cache in the next week. I’m glad some cachers had a chance to enjoy it. It seems the Government thinks our sport is the same as littering:

 

I am forwarding this message from the district recreation technician. We really appreciate the cooperation we have gotten from the cache owners we have worked with so far...thanks.
Dear Sir, I was recently informed about the geo-cashe located in Bell Mtn. Wilderness. Although I like the idea of geo-cashes (it promotes use), I must ask you to remove this cache because it violates the Wilderness regulation (05-04,#6-36CFR 261.57), prohibits storing personal property or supplies in all Wilderness areas on the Mark Twain National Forest. If you moved it just outside the boundaries of the Wilderness it would be fine.

Paul Nazarenko, Mark Twain National Forest - Potosi/Fredericktown Ranger District - e-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

The user has also sent you their email address (or reply to this message): This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

Hercules Glade Wilderness cache:

February 2, 2002 by Daviskw (51 found)
Sad but so I will be removing this cache in the next few weeks. I have recieved a request by the Forest Service:


Hi! I'm the recreation and Wilderness manager for the Mark Twain National Forest. While reviewing the geocaching.com website a while back, I discovered the Hercules Glades Wilderness Cache. I am requesting that you relocate this cache outside the Wilderness Boundary. 36 CFR 261.57f and Forest Order 05-04 prohibit storing equipment, personal property or supplies in all Wilderness areas on the Mark Twain National Forest. We have not been restricting placement of geocaches outside of Wilderness, unless they are located so as to cause damage to other resources in the area, (primarily indirectly - trampling by searchers). We also appreciate having geocachers notify me or the local district (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 417-683-4428 and ask for Jim) when a cache is placed on lands that we manage. (Recently a cache was removed by Law Enforcement officials, because it was erroneously suspected to be involved with illegal drug activity on the forest - notification will prevent this from happening.) Thanks for your cooperation, and enjoy your visits to the Mark Twain National Forest.

 

February 2, 2002 by Steve Brown (3648 found)
I sent the following email to the forest service.

Dear Sir,
I have visited 223 cache sites around the country this past year. This was one of my all time favorites. This rule really hurts. I would have never ever found this little part of the world and enjoyed your forest without geocaching. What are the forest for, if not for the people of the land to enjoy? This cache could not have been hurting anything from what I could see. How come we have to be so strict to keep people like me from enjoying the forest. Why couldn't you just ignore it unless it was really causing a problem? I can not enjoy it if I don't know about it. I see folks break rules in the forest much worst than this and get by with it all the time. I know it don't make it right or okay, but you just happen to have a armchair way of finding geocache offenders. It's much harder to catch the real offenders to the forest. Geocaching only helps people like me find and enjoy the forest. This just really hurts. Thanks for listening, - Steve Brown

 

February 2, 2002 by *gln (1411 found)
Last week end a group from STL hiked to Butch’s Bell Mountain cache. It too has been archived. The forest service is worried that caching is the same as littering and may damage the environment, yet on all nine miles of the trail there were signs NAILED into trees. There must have been a hundred of them. Looks like a lot of littering to me and I bet there was a bit of damage done to the trees with the nails. As responsible hikers, I think we should pick up all these little trash signs, remove the nails and return them to the forest service so they can hunt down the offending parties. The signs are always the same small walking person with a stick. I think they are all an eyesore that spoils the enjoyment of the hike. We can’t allow such littering in these areas. Do ya thing **WE** could get away with such silliness? I doubt it. *glenn

 

Greer Spring Cache:

January 9, 2002 by trilobites (51 found)
Well if you guys didn't make this one you missed out. While we were working down here on our gaging station a USFS person came down and removed the cache. Hopefully, we'll get permission to replace the cache this spring.

 

 

Meet your government agents

On February 5, 2002 *gln created another ‘community’ web page at geocaching.com to record stories about encounters with government agents (Meet With Your Government Agents) . This was an actual loggable cache for those geocachers who had discussions with government agents about geocaching. (The cache eventually had to be archived due to the fact it wasn’t actually a valid cache in the eyes of geocaching.com).

 

 

Konopapw, Barramus, and RGS at first Spring Picnic

The First Spring PicnicSLAGA becomes a formal organization

To better reflect the geographical local where most of the group's members lived and cached, in 2002 the word "Area" was added to the group's name, making it the St. Louis Area Geocachers Association, or SLAGA. The next organized picnic event was called theSLAGA Spring BBQ & Cache Hunt 1 Picture Archive2 Picture Archive . It was held on May 18 at Barramus’ house near Pacific, Missouri. The weather and scenery were excellent. Some temporary geocaches were placed in Barramus’ back yard near Labarque Creek (later to become the Labarque Creek C.A.). About 20 geocachers attended, including *gln and JoA, konopapw and Ms. E, RGS, Island-Dave, BruceS, thunder_monk, pa and ma, Mean Gene, myotis, and Strider.

 

SLAGA members discussed how to make the group a more formal organization, which they thought would increase their credibility when dealing with land managers and regulating agencies. During this time, *gln started a dialogue with Groundspeak, the company which manages the www.geocaching.com web site, about issues such as inconsistent enforcement of cache-approval guidelines and how to handle geocaches that were not being maintained by their owners.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

SLAGA Territory

 

Also on the group's agenda was the establishment of geographical boundaries. Since we were calling ourselves the St. Louis Area Geocachers Association, we had to define what that area was. While most members were from the suburbs and cities surrounding St. Louis, Missouri, at this time most of the caches were being placed in wooded areas to the southwest of St. Louis. Selecting a point in the most cache-dense areas, we defined all land extending out 100 miles from St. Louis in all directions as ‘SLAGA Territory’. It wasn’t to claim the land as our own, but to help define the area we focused our attention on. We always make sure it is clear that SLAGA is not the keeper of all geocaches placed on that land, nor do we prevent people who live or cache outside that land from being SLAGA members.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

BruceS is recognized for his 1000th find

BruceS's 1000th FindThe Original ‘Cache Machine’

On July 28, 2002, SLAGA members witnessed fellow geocacher BruceS find his 1,000th cache. Picture Archive Because of the limited number of geocaches available at that time in the history of the hobby, finding 1,000 caches was an amazing accomplishment. BruceS normally planned his caching trips so that he was hunting the first cache of the day at sunrise, and would hunt caches until after dark. Sometimes he would sprint from cache to cache without stopping to eat, and camping wherever he ended the day. By the end of 2002, BruceS had found almost all caches within 150 miles of St. Louis and had to drive several hundred miles to get to caches he hadn’t found yet. BruceS’s 1,000th find was a cache calledOnondoga S.P. SLAGA recognized his accomplishment by presenting him with a gold ammo box at a picnic held in Blue Springs C.A. immediately after his milestone find.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

SLAGA's 2002 Fall Picnic was held at Castlewood State Park and was hosted by Island-Dave. The Castlewood Park Superintendent, Richard Love, stopped by to give the group some encouragement and invite them back for future gatherings. To end the day, group members donated some trinkets and sent K-Team and Mean Gene off to hide a cache in honor of the picnic. This was the event that brought together two geocachers who eventually got married (Barramus and Soldiers of Fortune, later known as TumbleOak).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

CrestwoodWorking with park officials

SLAGA members continued to work to build relationships with local land managers and help set geocaching policy for public land in the St. Louis area. RGS partnered with the Crestwood Parks and Recreation Department to create theWhitecliff Cache Course, one of the first geocaches in the country to be sponsored and maintained by a city park department.

 

In October, RGS wanted to place a very challenging geocache at West Tyson County Park southwest of St. Louis called Daryl and Daryl. The cache would have both a high terrain rating and a high difficulty rating. RGS talked to Tom Hughes, St. Louis County Park employee. Tom had a GPS receiver and had found a couple of caches in West Tyson County Park. He suggested RGS call Justin Hirsch, recreation events coordinator, and get approval through him.

 

Justin had never heard of geocaching. He said he wanted to get some feedback from others. About 1 week later he said it would be okay to place geocaches in any St. Louis County Park, but ammo boxes could not be used. Any other container would be fine (plastic, metal toolbox, etc.) Daryl & Daryl was placed on 11/20/02. RGS started sending Justin a list of new and archived geocaches in St. Louis County Parks every month.

 

RGS got a call from Charlie Trokey in charge of Strategic Planning at Queeny Park. This resulted in RGS presenting 4 training classes to the park rangers and operations personnel. Relationships and contacts formed as a result. Charlie purchases 14 new yellow Etrex GPS receivers for the department to use.

 

 

 

*Gln, your friendly geocaching admin

 

 

*gln becomes local geocache reviewer

Recognizing that a good thing was going on in the St. Louis area, in 2003 Groundspeak recruited *gln to become the regional cache reviewer for Missouri, southern Illinois, and Kansas.

 

*gln created a web site called www.mocache.net for the purpose of displaying the various guidelines and geocaching policies for the entire state of Missouri. The site also provided an on-line forum for geocachers who were not part of any official geocaching group.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Training classes

In 2003, Justin Hirsch asked RGS if he would be willing to teach a geocaching class for the general public at a St. Louis County park facility. The first class was held on March 3 at Greensfelder County Park Nature Center, near Eureka, Missouri. SLAGA members placed temporary caches and provided their own GPS units for attendees to use. Two classes were scheduled per year.

 

Brawny Bear leads the way

As the demands on their time became more than *gln and RGS could handle, they started to look for someone to help run the growing organization. A likely candidate had recently moved to the area, and quickly became known for his interest and enthusiasm of geocaching. Brawny Bear was enlisted to keep SLAGA growing in size and purpose. As *gln put it, “Getting someone to take on this task has been a task in itself. I think we have found someone that is interested in geocaching, has traveled enough to see what is working in other parts of the country and has a ton of good ideas. He knows how to facilitate change and bring out the best in folks, knows how to lead. He can even start a fire with a rock.” With Brawny Bear leading the way, SLAGA became a more formalized organization.

 

 

 

 

 

 


Serving the public

Geocaching’s philosophy of Cache In–Trash Out was put into action with SLAGA’s first CITO events. On Earth Day 2003, missourimule sponsoredMO Cache, Less Trash at Creve Coeur Park. The next day, rocksusan hosted Sunday Spencer Creek CITO in St. Peters, Missouri.

 

SLAGA was asked to participate in the Tiger Cub Adventure Fair, which was a scouting event for Tiger Cubs graduating from first grade. At the fair, SLAGA members set up temporary caches and gave demonstrations on geocaching basics.

 

Since St. Louis area geocachers are known for their appetites as well as their caching skills, SLAGA continued its tradition of annual spring and fall picnics. TheSLAGA 2003 Fall Picnic was attended by new SLAGA member lazylightning, who is the Recreation Program Supervisor for the Jefferson City Parks and Recreation Department. The group was treated to a visit from a Department of Natural Resources spokesperson, Barb Wilson (ebony), who was involved in setting geocaching policy for Missouri state parks.

As SLAGA became a more formalized organization, a Board of Directors was created. The first SLAGA officers were:

 

 

 

 

 

 

Elected SLAGA Officers

Year in office

President

Vice President

Vice President

Treasurer

Secretary

(Fall) 2003 - (Fall) 2004

Mike Griffin
(Brawny Bear)

Glenn Nash
(*gln)

Richard Sheffold
(RGS)

Jen Guyer
(NYISutter)

Bridget Griffin
(BWAT)

 

 

 

 

The firstCabin Fever Geocaching Pot Luck was held in Jefferson City, Missouri, on January 31, 2004. It was hosted by lazylightning and was co-sponsored by the Jefferson City Parks and Recreation Department. Geocachers from SLAGA, Kansas City and Springfield, Missouri, spent the day caching, then gathered at an indoor pavilion for dinner.The event was a great hit and became an annual SLAGA event, eventually moving to St. Louis.

 

Brawny Bear started drafting the first copy of the bylaws in April of 2004, not knowing the original bylaws were written by *gln. Soon after Brawny Bear presented the draft he had been working on, *gln provided him with the originals. It was decided that they would take the best of both and create one bylaws document for the organization. This was accomplished in July 2004 after a breakfast meeting and a call to organize SLAGA into a legitimate Non Profit Organization in Missouri. On July 17th at the first official SLAGA meeting, the bylaws were accepted.

 

The official Mission Statement is:

“SLAGA shall exist as a not-for-profit social organization, formed to promote the family-oriented activity of geocaching through a central web site, workshops, newsletters and information displays, while encouraging responsible stewardship of public lands through cooperation with land managers.”

 

Paperwork was filed with the government in pursuit of a 501 c(7) non-profit status for SLAGA. That is the code for a social club that can collect dues from members and allows its elected officers to spend money on behalf the club. It also comes with tax benefits.

 

 

MOGA

In 2004, Brawny Bear created a large geocaching competition known as theMidwest Invitational Geocaching Competition (MIGC) The three-day event was held at Hawn State Park in Ste. Genevieve, Missouri, and was sponsored by the St. Louis Orienteering Club, with the cooperation of the Missouri Department of Natural Resources. MIGC was attended by over 80 participants from seven different states - some from as far away as New Jersey. Competitors raced from waypoint to waypoint on moderate to difficult terrain, with divisions for individuals, 2-person and 4-person teams. Non-competitors were also welcome to hunt 21 temporary caches. SLAGA member Sniper1 took first place in the ‘difficult-terrain’ division. Event staff members included BWAT, Tim, Pam & Molly, Happykraut, Brawny Bear, Dreicat and Sev, jeepers2 and Jada, thunder_monk, rocksusan, Dorkus&Co., dogda, *gln and JoA, RGS and Charlotte, xitaqua, Strider, nyisutter, mamalu, and Know Future. The competition would eventually be renamed the Midwest Open Geocaching Adventure (MOGA).

 

 

More training classes

RGS’s Geocaching 101 classes continued as recurring public events in the spring and fall. A “Fishing with GPS” class was added, but fishermen lost interest when they found out you couldn’t catch fish with a GPS receiver. SLAGA participated for the second year in Earth Day CITO events and the Tiger Cub Adventure Fair.

 

SLAGA members volunteered their time and talents to educate park employees and the public at many other events, including the Missouri Park and Recreation Expo in Columbia, Missouri, National Trails Day at Klondike Park in Augusta, Missouri, the Southern Illinois Park and Recreation Expo in O’Fallon, Illinois, and an indoor class on GPS receivers for residents of Crestwood, Missouri.

 

Brawny Bear hosted several “Tune Up and Learn” sessions designed to update SLAGA members’ GPS receivers with the latest firmware and discuss advanced GPS unit features and geocaching software.

 

In the summer and fall, SLAGA members hosted “Caching and Camping” events, open to all geocachers. They were simple get-togethers to eat, camp out and hunt geocaches in Missouri parks.

 

 

Elected SLAGA Officers

Year in office

President

Vice President

Vice President

Treasurer

Secretary

(Fall) 2004 - (Fall) 2005

Mike Griffin
(Brawny Bear)

Glenn Nash
(*gln)

Richard Sheffold
(RGS)

Pam Ueltzen
(Tim, Pam & Molly)

Bridget Griffin
(BWAT)

 

 

 

 

 

After-MOGA CITO Event

 

The SLAGA-sponsored geocaching competition underwent some improvements and was renamed the Midwest Open Geocaching Adventure (MOGA). The 2005 event was held at Meramec State Park and was co-sponsored by the Missouri Department of Natural Resources.

 

Konopapw decided that it would be a good idea to capture the event setup and activities on video. This would be the first of many video projects on the topic of geocaching that would result in SLAGA web videos and free video DVDs.

 

Event hosts Tim, Pam & Molly provided activities for both competitors and non-competitors alike. Over 100 cachers from all over the country attended. Rules for the competition were relaxed from the previous year to allow participants to hunt caches in any order. ACITO event was held the following weekend to make sure all of the temporary caches and trash were removed from the park.

 

SLAGA continued its community outreach projects, including geocaching demonstrations at the Tiger Cub Adventure Fair, the St. Louis Community College (Kirkwood), Missouri Park & Recreation Expo, the Illinois Park & Recreation Expo in Cahokia, Illinois, a GPS and geocaching class at Tyson Research Center in Eureka, Missouri, and another indoor class for residents of Crestwood, Missouri.

 

RGS hosted the firstSummer Picnic at Whitecliff Park. This was meant to be a casual, less-formal event with very little planning and organized activity. The city of Crestwood donated a shelter and access to their pool and water park.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

SLAGA Geocaching Podcast

On July 30, 2005, konopapw published the first episode of the SLAGA Geocaching Podcast. It contained audio recorded during the Missouri Department of Conservation Outdoor Adventures Expo at the August A. Busch Memorial Conservation Area in St. Charles. SLAGA was asked to set up a booth so that attendees could ask questions about geocaching and participate first-hand by hunting a few caches placed nearby in the woods. These audio podcast episodes contained interviews with SLAGA members, land managers and audio from geocaching events. Konopapw continued to publish one every 3-4 weeks for the next 3 years.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

No more PVC

In response to a bomb scare in Queeny Park that turned out to be a geocache, the St. Louis County Parks Department requested that PVC pipe not be used as geocache containers. SLAGA members promptly responded by replacing any PVC pipe with more easily identifiable containers.

 

 

Advertising

In 2005, an icon and logo graphic were designed to be used on SLAGA web pages and banners.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Business cards containing the SLAGA logo, web site and email address were printed, and konopapw and RGS designed a tri-fold brochure describing geocaching and the SLAGA organization. The cards and brochures would be given out at geocaching displays and public events for years to come.

 

An event calendar was added to the SLAGA web site. Upcoming events were displayed on the home page, with the ability to view a monthly and yearly calendar. As the organization continued to grow, the SLAGA officers began to formally track inventory owned or used by the group (banners, awards, tables, cache trinkets).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Elected SLAGA Officers

Year in office

President

Vice President

Vice President

Treasurer

Secretary

(Fall) 2005 - (Fall) 2006

Paul Konopacki
(konopapw)

Tim Ueltzen
(Tim, Pam & Molly)

Jim Greene
(Strider)

Pam Ueltzen
(Tim, Pam & Molly)

Sarah Chisolm
(Crowesfeat 30)

 


 

 

Membership dues

Up until this time, monetary donations to SLAGA were being accepted, but cash flow was sporadic. On January 1, 2006, SLAGA announced it would create two membership categories: ‘Standard’, where anyone can call themselves a SLAGA member for free if they register themselves in our membership database, and ‘Contributing’ (later renamed ‘Premium’), where annual dues would be paid to help defray costs of the organization. The dues were set at $10 for an individual and $15 for an entire household. The decision to implement dues was done after researching how other geocaching organizations managed their groups and raised money.

 

These dues would be used to help the organization continue its mission to educate the public about geocaching. Recurring costs included renting facilities for events and training classes, printing business cards and brochures, buying banners to display, and trinkets to hand out at events. To encourage members to pay annual dues, premium members were given certain ‘perks’, such as eligibility for prize drawings at the annual spring and fall picnics, free admittance to training classes, and discounts on SLAGA merchandise. There were a few members who had strong opposition to this new membership categorization, as expected. However, the new dues structure did not prevent anyone from participating in events or geocaching in the St. Louis area.

 

 

Losing a friend

SLAGA lost a popular geocacher, Jim Everman (Geo Jim), to cancer on October 7, 2006. Jim was opinionated and loved to talk about his geocaching adventures and technology. His signature trinket item was a smashed penny that he left in many geocaches around the St. Louis area. A tribute web page was created on the SLAGA web site.

At the annual fall picnic, newly elected SLAGA president JavaPgmr promised to create a series of training classes for members, to be held at a public library. Topics would include:

· How to use popular waypoint management software, such as GSAK, GeoBuddy and ExpertGPS.

· What are travel bugs and geocoins

· How to create a nice-looking geocache web page

In October, SLAGA was asked to help train students at Thomas Jefferson private school in St. Louis. Volunteers led a group around Laumeier County Park to find existing caches. The day culminated in a race to a cache placed especially for the event.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Elected SLAGA Officers

Year in office

President

Vice President

Vice President

Treasurer

Secretary

(Fall) 2006 - (Fall) 2007

Steve Bromley
(javapgmr)

Jim Greene
(Strider)

Dave Leggett
(FlatKatz)

Mariel Leggett
(Pika Wants Cake)

Sarah Chisolm
(Crowesfeat 30)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After a couple of years of operation, SLAGA officially became a 501 c(7) non-profit organization.

 

SLAGA started monthly member training sessions at the Tesson Ferry branch of the St. Louis county library. These were the classes that president JavaPgmr promised when he first took office.

 

 

WOW – St. Louis

SLAGA was asked to participate in a Wonders of Wildlife, or WOW event, held in Forest Park. WOW is an all-day outdoor recreation and conservation event sponsored by the Missouri DNR. Volunteers  teach classes on outdoor skills and safety. The target audience is disadvantaged families. At this time, SLAGA did not own its own set of GPS receivers, so it borrowed 20 yellow Garmin Etrex units from the Missouri Department of Conservation. Konopapw recorded two audio podcasts during the event:

 

Part 1 of 2 (Interview with Andrea Putnum from the MDNR)

Part 2 of 2 (Interview with Barb Wilson of the MDNR, and Liz Lyons of the MDC)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

‘Leapin Lemur’ CITO at Emmenegger Park

This year’s Leaping Lemurs! CITO was held late in the year instead of the traditional time in April. It was organized by SLAGA member Pika Wants Cake to clean up Emmenegger Park. There was a big turnout to help pick up the trash washed up on shore from flooding of the Meramec River.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Member choice awards

Yawetag and his father Lobocs are geocachers from the East Coast who had moved to the St. Louis area. Where they were from, it was common to publicly recognize challenging and interesting geocache hides through an annual award system. They wanted to try the concept in the St. Louis area and decided to take on the challenge of organizing a SLAGA member voting system. Winners would receive a certificate and an image they could place on the cache description page. Winners were announced at the annual winter holiday party and published on the SLAGA web site.

 

 

 

 

 

GPS receiver purchase

Late in 2007, using money earned through Premium membership dues and proceeds of silent auctions held during picnics, SLAGA purchased 10 yellow Garmin ETrex GPS receivers. Previous to the purchase, members had been asked to use their own personal receivers during public training events. Having the same units for all training classes made it easier to present the technical details of the unit and allowed more members to be able to help with any questions about the units.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



 

 

 

Elected SLAGA Officers

Year in office

President

Vice President

Vice President

Treasurer

Secretary

(Fall) 2007 - (Fall) 2008

Steve Bromley
(javapgmr)

Mike Maryan
(TheMadChef)

Jack Anderson

(PandyAndy)

Jim Greene
(Strider)

Sarah Chisolm
(Crowesfeat 30)

 

 

 

 

 

In January, the SLAGA Winter Potluck event was moved from the Learning Center at Greensfelder County Park to the Grant Shelter at Jefferson Barracks County Park. We had outgrown the old location and needed a new venue. Shaun Dulz, St. Louis County Park official and friend to geocaching, donated the use of the indoor shelter for our event.

 

“A Window on Geocaching”

In February, a geocaching exhibit was installed in the Learning Center at Greensfelder County Park. It was created by RGS and Didg Guy. They had been asked by Mary Cranor, ranger with the St. Louis County Parks Department, to put together a display explaining geocaching to park visitors. They even found a way to hide a loggable micro-cache on the exhibit! A Window on Caching

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Podcast retires

On the July 30, 2008, the third anniversary of the first SLAGA Geocaching Podcast, konopapw published the 100th and final episode.

 

 

ParkPalooza

In September, the first annual ParkPalooza event, sponsored by the National Park Service, was held on two consecutive days at the St. Louis Arch (aka the Jefferson  National Expansion Memorial). This was an opportunity for SLAGA to teach geocaching to a different type of audience at a different venue. The annual SLAGA Fall Picnic was taking place that same weekend, but there were enough SLAGA volunteers to manage the geocaching booth on both Saturday and Sunday. The booth was one of the most popular at the event. Over $200 worth of cache trinkets were purchased and placed in temporary caches on the Arch grounds. Sue Ford, an employee of the National Park Service and a member of SLAGA, helped organize and monitor the display booth as participants were shown how to use a GPS receiver to find geocaches.

Milestone awards

1,000 Finds  Geo-Achievement set

SLAGA President John Elfrank (L Frank) decided that the association had enough money in its treasury to offer tangible rewards to premium SLAGA members. The Board of Directors voted to award commemorative pins and/or geocoins to premium SLAGA members who reach their 100th, 500th, 1000th or 5000th find.

 

After a successful 2008 MOGA event at Mark Twain Lake, SLAGA made the decision to become one of the official sponsors of MOGA. It formalized a relationship that had always existed between SLAGA and MOGA and showed SLAGA’s commitment to the success of the MOGA event.

 

GPS receiver training classes and Geocaching 101 training classes were moved to Queeny Park in an effort to provide a more central location to prospective students.

 

SLAGA started conducting semi-monthly training classes in St. Charles in addition to those already being held at the Tesson Ferry library in St. Louis County. This allowed SLAGA to reach out further into the geocaching community.

The annual SLAGA Chrismas Party was hosted by Brawny Bear and BWAT, and was attended by geocachers from all over Missouri. Attendees brought unwrapped toys to be donated to the Toys for Tots campaign.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Elected SLAGA Officers

Year in office

President

Vice President

Vice President

Treasurer

Secretary

(Fall) 2008 - (Fall) 2009

John Elfrank
(L Frank)

Mark Derr
(Hobbit Taz)

Jeff Weymouth
(JC_Geo)

Jim Greene
(Strider)

Laurie Elfrank
(Denmother)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

SLAGA geocoin

After many years of planning, a SLAGA geocoin was finally created. Crowesfeat30, avid geocoin collector, spearheaded the development of the coin by asking SLAGA members to submit artwork for one side of the coin, and worked with the coin manufacturer on pricing and quantity. Selection for the graphic on the other side of the coin was of the statue of St. Louis on a horse, which stands at the entrance to the art museum in Forest Park. It was chosen as an appropriate representation of St. Louis history. The first minting of the coin was made available to members at this year’s annual SLAGA Winter Potluck event.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Service awards

At the SLAGA Winter Potluck event, president Elfrank presented awards to volunteers who had made an impact on the association over the years:

 

  • konopapw - For his devotion and technical excellence as webmaster for the benefit of the association and its members.
  • Brawny Bear – For his leadership, vision and direction in shaping the association to benefit geocaching.
  • RGS - For his vision, passion and dedication in establishing geocaching excellence.
  • *gln – For his vision, passion and dedication in establishing geocaching excellence (not present to accept award).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

MOGA becomes SLAGA event

After the MOGA 2009 mega-event held at Mark Twain Lake, Missouri this spring, ownership of the event was transferred to the SLAGA association. Plans for MOGA 2010 are forming under the direction of John and Laurie Elfrank.

 

 

Missouri Dept. of Conservation geocaching policy

On April 30, 2009, the new MDC geocaching/letterboxing policy went into effect. Similar to the Missouri Dept. of Natural Resources policy that had been in effect for years, this policy was now ‘official’. Lacking an official policy, past permission to place caches on conservation areas was solely at the discretion of the individual land manager of that area without necessarily having an accountable explanation.. This brought a huge disparity in the different reasons for approval or denial of cache placements. In some areas there were no restrictions; in others, the answer was just, ‘NO!’. The new policy was published to set guidelines meant to be applied consistently throughout the entire state of Missouri. (Approval is still at the discretion of the land manager, but they need to have a reasonable explanation.)

 

In order to understand the policy better and communicate its impact on the geocaching community, konopapw attempted to arrange an audio podcast interview between himself, John Vogel (MDC Wildlife Management Biologist) and Teresa Kight (MDC Recreation Specialist). John is responsible for a conservation area in the St. Louis area that already contains many geocaches (Special Use Permit, required). He sees the benefit of geocaching as it pertained to acceptable land user and is considered a huge supporter of geocaching. Teresa was instrumental in developing the MDC policy and having it published in April in the MDC ‘Wildlife Code’ handbook. This was to be an opportunity to capture the perspectives that government agencies have regarding geocaching. The idea was to distribute the podcast locally and around the country

 

The interview did not take place as planned; however, konopapw and RGS arranged to meet Teresa (trail1) at the August Busch Wildlife Area on March 20, 2009, and take her on her first geocache hunt and discuss concerns that SLAGA members had expressed about the policy.

 

The weather was great that day. Caches were selected to show the variety of containers and difficulty – include a hunt for a cache that was expected to give her a taste of a ‘no-find’! RGS provided a lot of conversation about the history of the hobby, the history of SLAGA and the training classes he has presented throughout the years. The guys felt that the time spent was productive. They shared their seasoned experiences with Teresa and made subtle comments as to how the policy might be received by the geocaching community. She welcomed feedback about the policy and was open to it being modified as needed, based on how successful or unsuccessful it was applied.

 

A full write-up on the policy, including a Q&A section, can be found on the SLAGA web site here.

 

 

slaga.org

The internet domain name of slaga.org was donated to the association. It was configured to point to the same web site as geostl.com.

The SLAGA Trailer

To provide a central place to store all of the SLAGA supplies and equipment, L Frank proposed purchasing a single-axle trailer that could be towed to each event. The Board of Directors acquired a used trailer with the funds raised from the sale of SLAGA geocoins.

 

Elected SLAGA Officers

Year in office

President

Vice President

Vice President

Treasurer

Secretary

(Fall) 2009 - (Fall) 2010

John Elfrank

(L Frank)

Jim Greene

(Strider)

Mike Henthorn

(mikeinmo)

Yvonne Von Der Ahe

(ladybugSTL)

Bridget Griffin

(BWAT)

 

 

Webmaster Transition

 

After 7 years of service, konopapw retired from the position of SLAGA webmaster in 2010. Brawny Bear took on webmaster duties, introducing a new website format, including a new Forum for SLAGA members.

SLAGA Pathtags

 

To help promote the organization, the SLAGA Board of Directors authorized the production of SLAGA pathtags, which were made available to members for a nominal cost.

MOGA Continues to Grow

 

MOGA 2010 was the biggest MOGA ever, drawing geocachers from as far away as Australia. The competition was intense, including several teams consisting of Missouri National Guardsmen. MOGA received an award from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, in appreciation for its efforts to bring geocachers to Mark Twain Lake. MOGA Directors Brawny Bear and L Frank began working with the USCOE on a partnership agreement that would bring MOGA to the other lakes in the St. Louis District.

 

Elected SLAGA Officers

Year in office

President

Vice President

Vice President

Treasurer

Secretary

(Fall) 2010 - (Fall) 2011

John Elfrank

(L Frank)

Jim Greene

(Strider)

Mike Henthorn

(mikeinmo)

Yvonne Von Der Ahe

(ladybugSTL)

Tom Wolpert

(twolpert)

 

 

As the St. Louis Area Geocachers Association grows, the elected officers hope to continue the organization’s focus on public education and cooperation with the land managers, who graciously allow us to practice our hobby in the parks they manage. SLAGA members are encouraged to set a good example for how geocaching can be an exciting and challenging family activity, while still showing respect for the environment.

 

Geocaching can be a lot of fun as an individual activity, but walk into a room full of other geocachers and you will find you have something in common with every one of them. SLAGA sponsers many social events. We like to talk about the latest GPS receivers, our geocaching hunt experiences and eat (and eat and eat). Learn more about geocaching by participating in group hunts.

 

To see what kind of things we do, visit the SLAGA web site to find a calendar of events and links to images, videos and audio clips from prior events and activities. Join our group and let us share the hobby with you.

 

 

WorldWide Flash Mob #5 - Forest Park, Mo

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

ParkPalooza geocaching booth - St. Louis Arch grounds, Mo

 

 

Geocaching 101 training – Queeny Park, Mo

 

2009 SLAGA annual spring picnic - St. Joe State Park, Mo

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2008 Cache-In, Trash-Out (CITO) event -Emmenegger Park, Mo

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Happy cacher - group cache hunt -Clarksville, Mo

 

 

Appendix A

 

 

SLAGA officers throughout the years

Year in office

President

Vice President

Vice President

Treasurer

Secretary

(Fall) 2003 - (Fall) 2004

Mike Griffin
(Brawny Bear)

Glenn Nash
(*gln)

Richard Sheffold
(RGS)

Jen Guyer
(NYISutter)

Bridget Griffin
(BWAT)

(Fall) 2004 - (Fall) 2005

Mike Griffin
(Brawny Bear)

Glenn Nash
(*gln)

Richard Sheffold
(RGS)

Pam Ueltzen
(Tim, Pam & Molly)

Bridget Griffin
(BWAT)

(Fall) 2005 - (Fall) 2006

Paul Konopacki
(konopapw)

Tim Ueltzen
(Tim, Pam & Molly)

Jim Greene
(Strider)

Pam Ueltzen
(Tim, Pam & Molly)

Sarah Chisolm
(Crowesfeat 30)

(Fall) 2006 - (Fall) 2007

Steve Bromley
(javapgmr)

Jim Greene
(Strider)

Dave Leggett
(FlatKatz)

Mariel Leggett
(Pika Wants Cake)

Sarah Chisolm
(Crowesfeat 30)

(Fall) 2007 - (Fall) 2008

Steve Bromley
(javapgmr)

Mike Maryan
(TheMadChef)

Jack Anderson

(PandyAndy)

Jim Greene
(Strider)

Sarah Chisolm
(Crowesfeat 30)

(Fall) 2008 - (Fall) 2009

John Elfrank
(L Frank)

Mark Derr
(Hobbit Taz)

Jeff Weymouth
(JC_Geo)

Jim Greene
(Strider)

Laurie Elfrank
(Denmother)

(Fall) 2009 - (Fall) 2010

 

John Elfrank
(L Frank)

 

Jim Greene
(Strider)

 

Mike Henthorn
(mikeinmo
)

 

Yvonne Von Der Ahe
(ladybugSTL)

 

Bridget Griffin
(BWAT)

(Fall) 2010 - (Fall) 2011

 

John Elfrank
(L Frank)

 

Jim Greene
(Strider)

 

Mike Henthorn
(mikeinmo
)

 

Yvonne Von Der Ahe
(ladybugSTL)

 

Tom Wolpert
(twolpert)

(Fall) 2011 - (Fall) 2012

 

Tom Wolpert (twolpert)

 

Nathan Rover

(NateDawgCC)

 

Mike Henthorn
(mikeinmo
)

 

Jim Nelson (Quailman2)

 

Mary Beth Gianoli (SLBC ladies)

(Fall) 2012 - (Fall) 2013