Register | Login
Attackpoint - performance and training tools for orienteering athletes

Discussion: Spreading the success of ARK, DGL, SOGO,

in: Orienteering; General

Oct 10, 2019 7:49 PM # 
It would be great if programs such as ARK, DGL, SOGO, etc. spread across the nation and beyond...
Oct 10, 2019 9:23 PM # 

Isn't there a similar program in Ottawa?
Oct 10, 2019 9:57 PM # 
Navigation Games
Some work in progress

ARK is one of our inspirations. Also Andrea Schneider's work, and Deb Humiston's, and Erin Schirm's, and Mary Jo Childs'.
Our model is a non-profit (so we can chase grants and have easier access to municipal resources, and other reasons), with paid staff (because volunteers would not be able to take on all of the work).
I've been interested in working in urban schools to get the broadest reach, across all economic levels -- and make the most difference with kids who don't have as much opportunity to play outside.

This year we've delivered 505 programs (eg an afterschool class, a team training) with > 6200 participants in those programs.
My original goal was for every child in Cambridge, MA to try orienteering.
Now my goal is for every child in the USA to do orienteering in school.
We are developing and testing lesson plans and workshops for teachers. For example, we have a collaboration with the City of Cambridge -- every third grader in the public schools will have 4 orienteering lessons in PE this year. We'll present a workshop on the curriculum, along with one of the teachers, at the MA health & PE conference in November.

We have been funded by private donors and program fees. Our current big donors will only support us for a few more months, so we are applying for grants and looking for new supporters. In 2019, we'll pay around $70,000 for staff and bring in about $35,000 of that in program fees.

I believe that through orienteering, kids can build healthy minds and bodies. They can learn all sorts of useful habits of thinking to deal with feeling lost/confused, to see multiple ways of doing things, to pick the way that works best for them... They develop greater awareness of nature, and I think that's important in this era of human-driven climate change and mass extinction. In building up a new sport in this country, we have the chance to associate certain values with it, and for me a big one is teamwork, being aware of other people, and helping each other learn and develop.

I do think that by building up orienteering locally we will eventually see a stronger national scene, but my motivation and action remains primarily on the local level right now. That is, if you don't count Safe Sport and Map Grants and the Safety Handbook and Erin's Youth Working Group, which I'm still working on with OUSA...
Oct 10, 2019 10:22 PM # 
Oct 11, 2019 1:09 AM # 
Bash x2
Oct 11, 2019 8:32 AM # 
This is even more amazing than I've previously known. Terrific work by Barb, Ethan and all other helpers!
Oct 11, 2019 12:23 PM # 
Erin's Youth Development Working Group has been laying solid groundwork at the national level. By the end of the year, they'll have the framework based on the USOC ADM and other influences, a set of activities recommended for clubs, a set of lesson plans for kids, and a basic intro for adults interested in bringing O to kids. (The revamp of the OUSA coaching certification will not happen this year, and needs attention.) I'm excited about this OUSA-level work. It was pretty inspiring to attend the coaching workshop that USOC put on for MSOCs and others, with Erin, last year.
Oct 28, 2019 4:28 PM # 
With Adventure Running Kids turning 10 years old in 2020 I too would love to see ARK spread to more areas in Canada or at least across Ontario as a start. There are other junior programs in Canada that are doing well but the massive success of SOGO shows that the "ARK approach" can work elsewhere in Canada. DGL/ARK entered into an agreement with the Foothills club to assist them in growing a bigger junior program in Calgary while at the same time testing/learning how the ARK curriculum and approach could be best introduced to another region. Given how well this 'test' went I think there is real potential to grow youth numbers with DGL managing a province wide (or Canada wide) ARK program.

One of the big challenges for a large roll out of the ARK program is the large geographic distances between O clubs in Canada.I suspect that ARK could grow even faster if other non-O club organizations were brought into the mix. For example, I think there is a strong fit with ARK and nordic skiing clubs that already have dryland training. Trail running, track clubs, outdoor clubs, outdoor summer camps, etc. could also be a good fit. A few years back DGL was approached by a sports academy, some summer camps and at least one resort about offering ARK. Heck, DGL was even approached by a former member of the US National Soccer team! It shows that there is interest in O from non-O organizations.

Finally, there was a comment in the Nor-Am development thread that the structures of our sport in North America is prejudiced against youth orienteering. I don't agree with that statement because the word prejudice is a strong word. But I would say that based on my experience in assisting with visioning, launching and developing ARK is that youth orienteering in North America is NOT a priority for clubs and the associations and Federations. Compared to other AP threads the lack of posts on this thread is perhaps evidence itself that youth orienteering isn't a priority. Given that ARK is the biggest source of revenue, the biggest supply of new volunteers and the most successful way to grow membership my club has had in 50+ years, this lack of youth orienteering priority confuses me.
Oct 28, 2019 5:27 PM # 
I agree that youth orienteering is not a priority in North America for most clubs, I think this is well said above. A few minor issues I have with SOGO based off of experience, is that given that ARK is " the biggest supply of new volunteers" SOGO doesn't really do this from what I've seen.

All of the trainings that I coached were done either by just me / or 2 other volunteers outside from SOGO. I have not seen a single orienteering event put on by SOGO parents, they would very rarely help with a session, usually only jogging around keeping an eye on the kids. (other then 1 parent, they actually helped set out controlw, but they were from an orienteering background, not new to the sport)

Conversely I saw that Level 3 members were being used to coach younger kids (SOGO level 1-2) at the same time that I would have sessions made for them. This was a reason why they couldn't come to some of the more "high quality" sessions.

It is fine that they get to volunteer or get paid, I think that is all well and good. But I think that the most adept 14-17 year olds should be prioritized as the most important athletes, rather then cheap labor.

As long as ARK doesn't follow these sorts of ideologies, then I'd agree that it and its vision should be spread across Canada. But after it created SOGO, even though it is getting better, SOGO hasn't really produced a competitive athlete in the past 5 years. Most of the good level 3's have their parents orienteer and invest time and effort into the sport outside of the SOGO curriculum.

The other critical factor, is that we don't use / prioritize enough good forest maps. We have enough forest maps an hour from Calgary, and we have sprint maps in Calgary. In my opinion we should be going to the forest every weekend at least one day, and then stay on sprint maps during most of the rest of the week.

When I was coaching, I wasn't allowed to use a single sprint map, even though we have multiple FWOC events on them during the year.

To sum it up:
- youth / elite athlete should be primarily trained by the club, not used as a resource (to an extent) this includes Jan Erik and me
- the quality of the curriculum, should be to the best extent that can be offered, not just crappy park maps that can't compare to Europe, when there are better options available

I literally had to make a whole forest map by myself ( haven't been paid for it yet) and then Jan and I ended up using it for like 70% of our SOGO trainings. There are many ways to make SOGO better, rather then just having it as our club's " biggest source of revenue".

I think in some cases SOGO has the right idea, especially with Jan as the head coach, we've had some really good trainings, such as the trip to Revelstoke. Its also hard because basically no-one has orienteering as their main sport, its either biathlon, swimming, or XC skiing, but this puts orienteering secondary for most of the kids. If they don't prioritize orienteering they will not be able to compete, just look at all of our athletes, the only good ones are the ones who've prioritized orienteering. I just don't see the system enticing enough to generate commitment to the sport for the athlete. To most of them its like geocaching, or a game of tag.

In this comment I'd just like to mostly highlight some things I would to to improve it. My experience has been more like the people in charge see that they have one of the biggest junior programs in Canada, and think that this is sufficient and successful, thus requiring no further improvement of their program and the sport around it. I get that some things you can't change instantly, but some you can.
Oct 28, 2019 5:53 PM # 
It takes some years of juniors coming through a programme before a batch sticks with the sport into college and beyond but, when they do, it will be revelatory.
Oct 28, 2019 6:12 PM # 
at the rate its going, im not sure i'll be around if that happens, especially in Calgary
Oct 28, 2019 8:45 PM # 
I want to write something longer and hopefully I will - for now, I'd just like to observe that creating an ARK or a SOGO or a NavGames or a WIOL is a big lift.

This discussion thread is closed.