by Ernest Cantu Jr., L.S.
Being a surveyor – it’s a life that has brought me lots of rewards. I have seen beautiful landscapes, wildlife in action, been to interesting locations, and get to use that grey wrinkled muscle in my head. Experiences in surveying keep me from the mindless monotony of a mediocre lifestyle. When I hear about someone who is looking to choose a career field, I hope they consider the career of a surveyor. To help that along, the National Society of Professional Surveyors has recently set in motion the NSPS Geocaching Project.
Geocaching, pronounced Jee-o-Kash-ing, comes from “geo,” somewhere on the planet, and “cache,” a hiding place that hikers used to stash supplies like food and climbing gear for long term use. Geocaching is an entertaining adventure game for GPS users. People set up hidden treasures (geocaches) all over the world according to established ethics. With latitude and longitude coordinates posted on internet sites like Geocaching.com, GPS users can then use the coordinates to find the caches. All the geocacher is asked to do is treat the land with respect and trade fairly – if they take something from the cache, they should leave something in the cache. There will be a log book in the geocache so they can record their own visit for future finders to read.
Geocaching is a GPS sport with exploding popularity, starting in the year 2000 and now thriving with over 400,000 geocaches worldwide. The NSPS Geocaching Project rides on this popularity by introducing those who are already “GPS aware” to a viable career choice that is far more in-depth than using just a hand-held GPS receiver.
The idea is to set up geocaches that are sponsored by a surveying society. When a seeker hunts for one of these particular geocaches, he or she gets to learn much more than “where is it.” Each geocache set using the guidelines of the NSPS Geocaching Project focuses on three things. First is the geocache itself. What is the seeker looking for? This is going to be basic for all geocaches. Second is where the geocache is placed. This is where the seeker gets to experience a “better” geocache. Caches are meant to bring seekers to a place worth visiting, to a view worth seeing, to a journey worth experiencing. Caches in this project bring seekers to places of historical significance, or to a surveying calibration baseline, or to learn about local area NGS bench marks – things that are related in some way to surveying. This is what sets apart a geocache set by a surveying organization from your run-of-the-mill typical geocache and makes the experience rewarding. The last point that the cache focuses on is recruiting – providing the seeker with information on the surveying organization, how to contact someone, and internet links to learn more about the career of surveying as a viable career choice.
To participate in this project, state surveying organizations are encouraged to set up an account with Geocaching.com and have that account sponsor geocaches across the state. As each state gets onboard with the project, the influence of the NSPS Geocaching Project spreads across the nation, and as a result, individuals across the nation who take up geocaching as an activity will be presented with ways to learn about the career of surveying.
There is only one geocache sponsored directly by NSPS. The webpage for this cache goes through the three goals and provides information and links to help the project to develop. The website for the NSPS Geocaching Project is can be viewed here on Geocaching.com using waypoint number GCXWVE. A Guidebook for Setting Geocaches for Surveying Organizations is an online document detailing how to participate and is viewable at http://www.nspsmo.org/news_events/documents/geoguidebook.html.
Ernest Cantu Jr., L.S. KS
“Ernie” Cantu is the Geocaching Project Coordinator for NSPS as well as for Kansas. He is a Survey Crew Chief for Professional Engineering Consultants, Wichita, KS. He has found over 200 geocaches and set over 50 geocaches under his personal Geocaching.com username of cantuland, and wrote the Guidebook for Setting Geocaches for Surveying Organizations primarily from the personal experiences of setting and finding geocaches throughout Kansas. Ernie Cantu can be reached by email by Clicking Here.
Originally published on September 15, 2007.