The Development of the Creed
The "Geocachers' Creed" was created using open forums that were viewed over 7800 times and actively involved over 60 geocachers in a long discussion, with two geocachers serving as editors to meld various comments. This discussion arose out of concerns that geocaching could be banned in some locations because of the inappropriate actions of a few people. The Creed is a way of consolidating existing information and generally accepted geocaching behavior into a concise format that serves both to guide geocachers and to instill a sense of trust in landowners and land managers.
The Need for a Geocachers' Creed
A debate ensued over the need for and wisdom of having a Creed. The prevailing view that emerged is that creeds or codes of ethics define accepted (and unacceptable) behaviors; promote high standards of practice; and provide a benchmark for members to use for self-evaluation. Of course, promoting high standards does not mean that everyone will follow them, but when others fail to follow the Creed, it serves as a baseline against which their behavior can be measured with some objectivity. You can use the Creed to help determine whether actions you plan to take are consistent with the spirit of the game.
The need for special ethical principles in an organized activity is the same as the need for ethical principles in society as a whole. They are mutually beneficial. They help make our relationships mutually pleasant and productive. Geocaching is a voluntary, cooperative enterprise. Those who are asked to follow a code of ethics are also those who benefit from the conformity of others. Each has a stake in maintaining general compliance, and an established Creed will reduce conflict among geocachers and between geocachers and others (e.g. landowners).
A code of ethics must be compatible with our common morality, but it goes beyond our common morality. You could say that the code interprets our common morality for the specific details of geocaching.A Voluntary Creed
There also was debate over whether the Creed should be mandatory, with some kind of enforcement mechanism, or voluntary. A consensus emerged that the Creed should be voluntary and should stand independent of the rules or requirements of any geocache listing site so that it is representative of geocaching, and geocachers, regardless of their location or the listing service used. The title was changed from "Geocachers' Code" to "Geocachers' Creed" to better reflect it's voluntary nature: it is a set of guiding principles, not a body of laws or rules.Tenets of the Creed
Each main tenet was discussed in the context of creating a concise guideline that is not overly restrictive, that addresses the root of the reason it was created, and is easy to understand--all without creating too many tenets. There were many drafts, and eventually a unanimous agreement emerged around the main tenets as basic expressions of safe, legal and ethical geocaching behavior.Examples and Explanations
The examples were more controversial and again went through many drafts to meet the self-imposed criteria of not being too restrictive while still being easy to understand, especially for those who are new to geocaching. It was agreed that the examples are only examples and not part of the Creed - not every contingency can be spelled out. If something is not specifically listed in the examples, you should consider the intent expressed in the main tenets in making a decision.Links to the Development Threads
The original development threads can be viewed at: