I am excited about Trail Kids having added orienteering (2nd year) to their outdoor curriculum. Taking place at 2 parks, hopefully 3 next year. The training locations are set by the initial scope of the organisation, xc skiing trails. Trail Kids expanded into biking, mountain biking, some caoeing/kayaking, trail running and now orienteering. Main problem, though, for the one location and the tentative one for next year: the parks belong to the Three Rivers District, which for parks with "Reserve" in their designation are limited by the 20/80 rule - 20% use, 80% preserve. What that means is that one can freely run around the picnic, boat launch, etc. areas, up to the mow-line, and in the forest 25 feet into the forest or prairie from the center of the trail, where only trails marked on their park use map count as trails. Makes for very difficult planning of something that does not easily get boring.
One thought is to force precision navigation, by using clusters or at least pairs of controls, kind of like forking. It is also difficult to include interesting places like running through muck and water, because many trails are either paved, or constantly "upgraded" with bridges with railings or whatever to keep people as much as possible on trails.
I feel like I am back in Taiwan, where maps were dark green with networks of trails, only now I have network of trails in "out-of-bounds".
I need ideas....
Is Sprint type orienteering possible? As a top Canadian orienteer said, there's no easy orienteering, just run faster until it's hard. It may be no bad thing for kids to learn to orienteer fast and accurately in park environments and along and near trails. It sounds like Trail Kids is a bit athletic, so maybe the kids might be interested in running rather than walking?
Other ideas? If the town is small enough and/or has quiet enough streets use the town.
If there is a university or college nearby, map and use it. Same with high school campuses. Navigation is navigation.
If the park/ reserve/ preserve has a citizen advisory committee or a Friends of ... group, get someone on the Board or in to the group, work on the inside to soften the policy.
(Set the markers according to the park guidelines but OOPS if the participants find a way to take a shortcut.)
@gordhun I was thinking of ideas within the given restrictions. The groups meet at their respective "home park" and will also stay within the park.
For one of the 2 parks, MNOC has a 1:10,000 map, but abandoned upgrading it because of the use restrictions. So last year I started mapping the biggest open use area as Sprint map, for Trail Kids and for school field trips; and the trails network as Ski-O/roller-ski-O map. I am now adding the other 3 open use areas at a Sprint scale with more details near the trails.
@JimBaker The problem is the kids know all trails in the network by hard from their xc skiingand trail running. Last year we had the kids to roller-ski-O with e-punches. And the area that is already mapped as Sprint map, 1/3 of that they use for agility training and are thus also very familiar with it. And they also do not switch locations/parks after several weeks. I can't use other linear features away from the open use areas. So I am looking for stuff a few weeks down the road, when even the most novice can do things by hard rather than truly navigate.
A "dog bones" style course may work for a bland or overly familiar area. It's more of a macro-route exercise, so maybe not what you're going for, but might be worth a try.
@Pink Socks - precisely what I am looking for. Have done dog-bones and dog-ears (3 point triangles added into the mix) before. I am also looking for ideas where e-punch is not available. TK have one e-punch school kit that gets shared between the locations, so only one group per night will have it, at least for now.
Maybe Window - O? Just print the area right around the controls and leave large area blank. They'd have to figure out how to get from one area to another. Even in a familiar area, that could be challenging.
dog-ears (3 point triangles)
Haha, I hadn't heard that. I've called those "bowl of nachos".
You could also try a no-compass, no north lines, circular map, though maybe if they know the area really well it won't be that challenging. Also try taking the trails off the map, then they have to use their knowledge of the park / informed guesses to find their way to controls. If not that, then perhaps other map manipulations to make it more interesting, like inserting fake barriers (walls or cliffs or railways) on the map so that they have to read the map in order to figure out their legal route choices.
Oh, and definitely corridors. Knowledge of the area won't help that much if the point is to follow a very specific route. You can hang some controls along the corridor, without marking them on the map, and then check that they have found them all for feedback (since I assume they won't have gps tracks to check).
Cell phone orienteering? One kid has map and phone, other kid just has phone. Of course it won't be that interesting if they know the park so well that they can just say, "go to the picnic table" and be done. :-)
I was also thinking of combining geocaching with map reading, in that they look for the geocaches approved in the park while marking on the map how they went and where it is on the map. Trying to think how else I can make use of that.
Making a map can be a good exercise, even in a familiar area. Tying to place everything using pace and compass from multiple directions can help inform one's mental model of an area, and improve seeing a map from the terrain by eyeball, and vice-versa, both key orienteering skills.
What about trail-o, temp-o, micro-o or one of those variations? Can you put 2-4 controls off the trail where the kids will not run to them (not sure even this is allowed in "reserves"), but rather look at them from a point on the trail and pick the "right" one? If you have mapped the open area to more detail you can also put out clusters of controls and then they again must punch the right one (based on control description). This can be made harder if you enlarge the control circle and do not centre it on the feature. Penalty loops for the ones they get wrong ;).
You're talking about kids, so think relays.
One example: probably the most fun I've ever watched a bunch of kids have doing an O exercise was at a junior camp last summer when Øyvind Naess organized a course copying relay. The kids were split into teams and then given a master map to copy a course from. Each kid would look at the map and memorize the location of one control, then run to a picnic table maybe 50 meters away and accurately draw that control on a blank map (separate map for each team). Return to start, tag next kid. It was a long enough course that each kid eventually had to draw several controls. There was enough vegetation between the two map locations that route choice even came into play in the running back and forth. It was crazy hot out and these kids were sprinting back and forth with huge smiles on their faces!
The master map relay was a perennial favorite at the Blue Mountain junior training camps... (last one was 2013?)
@Guy: is what fossil describes the same as what you call master map relay?
I wasn't there (2016 Sass Peepre camp?), but it sure sounds like it. At Blue Mtn, though, the master maps were at the top of a hill... :-D
Although it is not very athletic another thing you might want to try is mapping. Give the participants a partially complete map and have them go in the terrain to fill in the missing details. It doesn't help their cardio but it sure gives an appreciation of the relation of map to terrain. I often did that with my PE classes in orienteering then copied and used one of the maps in a later class.
make a few sets of photos of the locations of the controls. instead of printing the locations on the map, they have to identify the locations on the map using the photos before they go out on course. Or they can just run around and find them by luck...
A few ideas:
Score course with mix of different value controls and a short time limit and hefty penalty points so they have to make decisions which to skip.
Declining score-O. Instead of controls, a pad of paper. First person to each "control" gets most points. (top sheet on the pad). Guessing where other people are going adds complexity.
Various forms of Poker-O. A. One card and a punch at each control. You are allowed 5 punches. To get best hand requires remembering what's where and revisiting controls. B. no punches. A few cards at each control. Kids never can carry more than 5 at a time. They could start with a 5 card hand, or they could start empty.
Creatively crazy: plan a course but print the map as a mirror image. Even crazier if parts are whited out.
Various forms of Vampire O or Zombie O.
Various forms of Poker-O.
Maybe I'll make them games of UN-O ;)
Thanks for all the great ideas. It made me think of all the great ideas out there that can be adjusted somehow, tailored, tweaked
Maze-os are fun :)... and I do think train some good habits too :)
We are using Maze-Os, a lot, even a bit too much sometimes. Also, mazes are setup-intensive, tough when the sessions start at 6 pm and are run by volunteers who arrive from their regular, often 9-5 jobs. They often do agility and warm-up games, while the O coach goes and preps any O activity.
I love the Go4Orienteering sets, I use them a lot indoors, as backup for field trips at schools when the weather is bad and there is no room for rescheduling. They are quick in setup, but even these get old if one uses them too often. In addition, Go4O needs at least 20 controls, where the e-punch school kit has only 10 controls+S+F, and TK has only 1 school kit.
I like all preceding ideas that may require a bit more work ahead of time, but minimize actual set-up time.
Map memory course, or even better: Map memory multiple choice trivia course. How that works is at the start there are three possible first controls shown (A, B, and C), with a question and three possible answers. If they think A is the right answer, they memorize the route and run to A. If A is the right answer there will be a marker, with another question - to #2 and so on. Now if they get to where they think A should be, and there is no flag, that could be because A was not the right answer, or they are simply lost. Now do they go back, or had they also been able to memorize where B and C are? If so they could try that.....
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