Clubs around the USA and the world are joining together this week to set up orienteering events for school kids and others with the hope of increasing our sports' exposure dramatically. If your club has put on an event, please consider sharing some stories. What activities did you choose to do? How did the kids and teachers respond? What was the venue? How many participants did you have and what were the age groups? Did you do anything that other clubs might benefit from knowing about? Please share your successes (and recommendations) here.
Not USA but the great folks at the 50 year old Orienteering Ottawa put on 3 events during World Orienteering Day. One was a school clinic at the famous Arboretum beside the World Heritage Site Rideau Canal, the second just out the door and around the property of City Hall and then a fabulous evening sprint event at Lansdowne Park, a site of a former agricultural exhibition, now redeveloped to include a new stadium for football and soccer (yes, Europe, around here those are two different sports), shops, restaurants and trade show space) As course setter Stefan Bergstrom's photos
show the courses even wound their way through the stadium.
My recommendation for World Orienteering Day (WOD)? Expand it to World Orienteering Week. That just seems to increase the WOW factor.
I thought they already did that.
Yes, tRicky, great of you to notice that. It's the name and initials that I would like to see changed. Someone wearing a tee-shirt saying WOD attracts no attention, a poster with WOD has no 'sizzle' but put in a WOW or a WOW! (with the exclamation point perhaps styled like a compass) and then people start paying attention.
Now perhaps WOW means something diferent in Swedish or German or French or Spanish or Urdu but I'm just sasying .....
Good points about WOD vs WOW. WOW does have more impact visually and acoustically.
At our school event today, the gym teacher who provided a rousing introduction about WOD stumbled on Day vs. Week. She was really into pointing out to her students that they were a part of something huge--something worldwide--something growing each day and that after today, they would be counted as part of that number. And, if they were to go to the WOD website, they would see Williston Central School listed as a site and marked on a map of locations around the world. She drew all over a white board and included the statistics from the WOD website (address provided) showing participation around the world, increasing overnight from 30,000+ to 70,000, and saying that by tomorrow it might be over 200,000! The kids seemed impressed. Had 5 gym classes of 18-22 each, total 108 kids. Class time available 40--45 min.
We did a sprint-style event on the school grounds around the athletic fields and the playground. Most controls were visible from the start. 15 controls, 3 courses with 5-7 controls each. In order to activate the large deadspace inside the track, I placed 3 controls that had some proximity to other features so that the kids would have to figure out which of the 3 controls (cones, man-made object) was theirs. Worked great.
Kids could do 1, 2 or 3 courses, or repeat a previous course to better their time.
Provided 8-10 min intro and instruction. Did not use compasses. Did use epunching which was a big hit. Also kept track of top three times on each course on a whiteboard labeled "Leader Board". Students helped keep this current. In retrospect, I should have kept track of the top time on each course from each class instead of wiping it clean for each class. Kids wanted to know how their times compared to others'. They loved this and it gave them incentive to go out again and something to gather around when they finished.
We also had an exciting chute set up using colorful pennant-style streamers (triangular flags on a continuous tape).
We had four adults: Carl on electronics, MJ on instruction and management of flow, teachers helping at start and finish.
The teachers were thrilled and hope to do more orienteering. Teacher provided info on our club for those kids who were excited about doing it again. It was a very successful day.
That sounds like a great event! Thanks Mary Jo and Carl!!
@MJ: How did you go about arranging all this outstanding event (ie, getting the school admin & teachers on board)?
One thing I am skeptical about wrt WOD, is the implied presumption that a person could walk into a school with an event proposal and be welcomed with open arms, even if they have/had no prior connection to the school or school district (eg, parent). And the idea that this could be done 2 weeks or less before the event seems like a real stretch.
BTW, I would love to read about examples that would show I am mistaken -- or at least pessimistic.
I am sure one of our local clubs - Wullundigong Orienteers of the West - would love the WOW acronym to be used because they'd say it's all about them!
With great leadership from Thurston and Bonnie Miller, OCIN hosted 3 Homeschool Orienteering Workshop (HOW) events on consecutive Wednesdays, with the 3rd and final one taking place on WOD. Word-of-mouth from the excited families who attended the earlier workshops greatly boosted the attendance at last one.
Each workshop had short instructional sessions for beginners, and 3 courses of white-yellow-orange difficulty. "Yellow" and "orange" at the first two were pretty easy, and there were a couple comments of "is this all there is?", but the courses at the 3rd event in a heavily wooded park were tougher, and brought out more "wow this is really hard. and fun."
May 9 - HOW #1 - 35 attendees from 11 families, plus 18 students from Kenton Middle School. 40 starts.
May 16 - HOW #2 - 52 attendees from 16 families. 5 families were repeats from HOW#1. 61 starts.
May 23 - HOW #3 (WOD) - 106 attendees from 27 families. 13 families were repeats from at least one previous HOW; 14 were new. 90 starts.
master map, HOW #3
orange course, HOW #3
results HOW #2
results HOW #1
photos - HOW #1
Anyone have any answers to GuyO's question? If you've approached a school successfully without some prior relationship, how did you do it? Seems like, at least in the USA, getting a foot in the door is a real challenge.
Make a cold call to a school about introducing orienteering? I guess I am batting .500.
There are two high schools very close to where my wife and I spend our winters in Florida. Both are Army JROTC schools and had not been previously involved in orienteering. (Navy JROTC is the fertile ground in USA, the low hanging fruit, so to speak)
I made speculative maps of both campuses and then approached the lead instructors. One had recently come to the area, had been involved in orienteering at a university ROTC program in Kentucky and he jumped at the opportunity to start an orienteering team. They are now ranked among the top five of over 40 JROTC orienteering teams in Florida.
The other school: Different instructor, different background very different result. "We are busy enough already. I'm not going to introduce yet another activity" was his response.
Now there are enough schools and scout groups approaching us that I'm not finding the time to make cold calls to other schools.
However I like the idea of getting in with home schooling associations and will try to pursue that. They have more liberty in designing their curriculum. Orienteering can count as PE hours and they have a super lot of parent involvement. They can also get it that orienteering is part learning land navigation but a more important part learning and reinforcing thinking and decision making skills.
My advice to others is that if you want to build repeat customers for orienteering be prepared to reach out and have some of your efforts not be rewarded. It is like the Bible teaches us about sowing seeds. Some will fall on that fertile ground, some on rocky ground.
Know also people may try a sport but they will want to join a CLUB. Make sure your club offers more than just a chance to go out in the woods.
In WA (the Aus version), we have several schools per year ask us to draw up maps of their school for their own orienteering program (or in some instances they hire our instructors) but requesting use of the school outside of their program for our own use seems to hit a brick wall more often than not.
Calgary's junior orienteering program attracted a good number of home schoolers, probably for the reasons gordhun mentions. Quite enthusiastic, I recall.
To answer Guy's question, the Williston Central School used to teach orienteering but the primary motivator retired. Since than, they offer it if enough kids request it but the kids never do cause they don't know what it is. Still, at least the staff was familiar so, when we offered to do something for WOD, they decided, sure, why not.
As the event unfolded, the staff really got excited. They pushed the concept that what the kids were doing that day was part of something happening world wide. And, they told the kids how our boys, who had gone to that school, and been in those phys ed. classes, had been on the US team and traveled to other countries to compete. The best part of all though was the excitement from the kids finishing their courses, and I am 99.9% sure that the staff would love to have us come back and do it all again.
It's always the 0.1% that ruins it for everyone though.
My approach to finding schools was paying for a booth at various teacher conventions. I would sit there for 2 days and talk to anyone who stopped by. I would get quite a few interested people the first few years and some of those turned into clients.
These days the market that seems to be the easy way in is through adventure classes. These teachers need activities for the semester or term to fill out their schedule. they do rock climbing, biking, canoeing, caving, etc and have a small budget to pay for a few of the activities. Those are the teachers I would suggest approaching first. Attend their convention, if they have one, or ask to speak to that teacher at the school.
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