All of us at Berntsen International are delighted that you've found our new online magazine for geocachers and benchmark hunters. We want to take this opportunity to introduce you to the people who are responsible for creating Caching Now, and to let you know about some of the exciting things we have planned.
The people of Caching Now
Rhonda Rushing is the publisher and editor in chief of Caching Now. She has been the president of Berntsen International since 1990. Rhonda first became interested in broadening Berntsen's horizons beyond the professional surveying community when she began writing her book, Lasting Impressions: A Glimpse Into the Legacy of Surveying. Rhonda received numerous photographs and stories from geocachers and benchmark hunters, several of which ended up in the finished book and sparked her desire to find out more about those hobbies.
Susan Norby is Caching Now's managing editor. She'll be choosing articles for each issue, and working with contributors (and potential contributors) to help them tell their stories in a clear and entertaining fashion. Susan is also Rhonda's executive administrative assistant, a position she has held since 2004.
Tim Klaben is the marketing and operations manager for Caching Now. He also serves as Berntsen's marketing manager, a position he acquired in early 2007. Prior to that, Tim was a Berntsen customer service representative for six years. Tim came to Berntsen after seven years with the Walt Disney World Company®. Although he had no connection to the surveying community at that time, he distinctly remembers noticing the disks that had an image of Mickey Mouse and the wording "SURVEY MARKER." As luck would have it, he is now in the business of creating them!
Our contributors include professional land surveyors and geodesists, amateur benchmark hunters, geocachers, educators, land managers--and many combinations of those titles! Berntsen's close relationship with the surveying community allows us to bring you the expertise of some of the country's leading survey-related organizations. And building on the relationships we began with geocachers and bench mark hunters when we created Lasting Impressions, we're delighted to share with you the enthusiasm and excellent advice of these dedicated amateurs.
Rhonda, Susan, and Tim have recently dipped their toes into geocaching and benchmark hunting. We'll be publishing notes and photos from their first adventure in an upcoming edition of Caching Now. Stay tuned!
Caching Now Q&A
Whose idea was it to do a website for geocachers and bench mark hunters?
Tim: That was all Rhonda!
Rhonda: I come up with the hare-brained ideas, like books and online magazines! But seriously, we think that survey markers are really cool, and we were delighted to discover that other people were interested in finding them. When I was writing Lasting Impressions, geocachers were submitting stories, and several surveyors sent in stories that mentioned geocaching. Then the National Society of Professional Surveyors started their program of using geocaching to promote land surveying as a career. So we were finding ourselves interacting with geocachers more--and getting more interested in it ourselves!
My first thought was to do a printed magazine. After doing some market research, I decided that an online magazine would be a better starting point. I didn't see anything that was already doing what I thought we could contribute to geocachers and benchmark hunters based on our unique background. We certainly don't want to duplicate what's already out there, such as the excellent information and forums on Geocaching.com. We want to supplement existing sites with offerings that spring naturally from our close relationship with the surveying community.
What are your goals for the site?
Rhonda: These aren't necessarily in order of importance, but here are some of my thoughts on that:
• Provide useful and fun information to surveyors and geocachers.
• Assist the surveying community in promoting land surveying to geocachers as a potential career.
• Promote benchmark hunting to geocachers, and both geocaching and benchmark hunting as fun and educational activities for families.
• Showcase the stories and photos that people have been sending us--especially since we published Lasting Impressions.
• Provide resources and links all in one place as a useful reference.
• Raise awareness of Berntsen's surveying scholarships and other opportunities for surveying students.
• Have fun!
Tim: There's an obvious synergy between what we do at Berntsen and the benchmark hunting community. Part of what we want to do is to assist the surveying community in promoting land surveying as a career. As is true in many professions that are heavily populated by "baby boomers," the rate of retirement among surveyors is increasing. So it's important to bring in a new generation. People know what architects do, and more or less what engineers do, but ask a 12-year-old kid what land surveyors do, and you'll probably get a blank look. We want to help change that.
Susan: I want to put together as many resources as possible to give website visitors a lot of exciting stories to read. And my personal goal for the site is to help me learn more about geocaching!
Why are you excited about the new site?
Susan: I loved reading the stories we got for Lasting Impressions--and we're still getting them, from both amateurs and professionals. I think that once the word gets out about Caching Now, people will be enthusiastic about sending us stories and photos. I'm happy that now we'll have an ongoing place to share them.
Tim: When I was in customer service, I really enjoyed helping people create interesting survey marks, and it was especially rewarding afterwards when they'd send me photos of the marks in their final locations. I think there's a great opportunity to tell fascinating stories while promoting geocaching and surveying. I really see Caching Now as an opportunity to show geocachers--especially the young ones--what surveying is about, and get them interested in it as a possible career.
Rhonda: This website is a natural extension of the work we do every day. We at Berntsen hear about so many interesting stories, and we only had room for a small fraction of them in the book, so this is another avenue for sharing them. Then we're building on that and adding other sections that we think will provide very useful information for geocachers and benchmark hunters.
Is the site just for hobbyists?
Rhonda: Not at all. It's also for surveyors, educators, and land managers. I think it will be a resource for educators to find out how others are using geocaching in classrooms. And it will give surveyors a venue to talk with the geocaching community about what they do.
Tim: In addition, a lot of surveyors don't understand what geocaching is, so we hope that this will be a comfortable place for surveyors to learn about geocaching. Many surveyors may not even realize that there are amateur benchmark hunters.
Rhonda: Or they may be aware of benchmark hunting, but have misconceptions about it. It's important for professionals to understand that these hobbyists want to protect the markers they find, not damage or steal them.
Tim: Yeah, I think surveyors will see what respect amateurs have for their profession.
One final question. No offense, but do you people really not know that benchmarks are just one kind of survey mark?
Rhonda (laughing): We do know! But it would be unwieldy--and intimidating to newcomers--if we kept using phrases such as "horizontal control points" and "triangulation stations" on this site. We're definitely going to have some technical articles on Caching Now where such precise terminology is important. But for the most part, we're going to use the accepted terminology of the amateur community, including referring to the hobby as "benchmark hunting" no matter what kind of survey monument they're actually looking for. By the way, if Caching Now readers want to see the many types of markers that surveyors use and they might encounter while bench mark hunting, they can visit our main website. I hope whatever people call them--bench marks, intersection points, or "that dratted disk that took me an hour to find!"--you'll enjoy the stories and information we provide on Caching Now.
Originally published on September 15, 2007.