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Discussion: Navigation Games update

in: Orienteering; General

Apr 11, 2020 1:36 PM # 
I'm writing to share an update from Navigation Games, a non-profit with a goal of greatly increasing the number of people who do orienteering, starting with kids and families.

By early 2020, we at Navigation Games had completed a strategic planning process and felt ready to enter a period of growth. Our district-wide orienteering programming was going really well in Cambridge, MA. We were approached after our workshops at the state physical education conference by educators who wanted to work with us. We ran professional development workshops at new school districts, and even an inter-district PE teachers training.

We also made connections within the experiential education and environmental education communities, and presented our work at their state and regional conferences. We talked about collaboration with a number of organizations that own land and are interested in our programming.

With expansion in mind, we hired Tanairi Sorrentini to do outreach to new school district clients; she had been doing educator outreach at Microsoft. We hired Jen Ferguson to manage the organization and support employees, and prepare to bring in additional people to deliver the programs.

Then the coronavirus hit. Our spring programming was canceled. Our potential clients and collaborators are scrambling to regroup within their schools and organizations, and aren’t yet able to talk about future programming.

For several weeks, we worked hard. We applied for grants and met (by Zoom!) with potential grant administrators. We debriefed PE teachers about the 3rd grade orienteering curriculum we co-taught with them a couple months ago. We repaired our equipment. We moved our website to a new platform. We tested and put in place new tools (Slack, Asana, Donorbox, StoryBoardThat, Google apps scripts, Wix collections, iOrienteering, Glide). We created “At-Home Orienteering”, including neighborhood-O and games kids and families can play while they are out of school. We attended webinars. We designed college orientation offerings. We applied to give workshops at national conferences about orienteering in schools. We were interviewed for a SportsEngine article. We were busy, in short. It was so fun, and so amazing, to work with the new team, and we got into a really good groove with each other, starting each day with a 9 am check-in meeting. I’m sure I can speak for Ethan Childs (our coach and teacher who has been with us for nearly 4 years now), and say that having Tanairi and Jen join the team has been absolutely transformative.

However, with our income interrupted, we have had to furlough our employees starting Monday. We are hoping our Paycheck Protection loan application will be approved, allowing us to bring employees back for three weeks this spring to prepare for post-pandemic programming. We have the funds saved to pick up again once we are on the far side of this pandemic. In the meantime, I have retired from my day job in order to volunteer full time as Executive Director to keep the business running.

We are so excited about what is possible for orienteering in schools. Over the past 4 years, our vision has evolved beyond teaching a sport to kids; now we use orienteering to train teachers in innovative experiential methods and increase youth environmental awareness and activism. We have so much to offer, and we know educators are excited to work with us.

We need people like you to support us. Financial donations are huge for us, because they create a bridge to see us to the other side. We are so grateful to those in the orienteering community who have given us financial support. We also need volunteers to do outreach, identify and check neighborhood-O control locations (maybe in new towns!), test out our new lesson plans, identify potential new donors, do data entry, make maps, and more. The best thing you can do is to help us connect to new people and organizations, and share our vision.

Thank you!
Barb Bryant
President & ED, Navigation Games
Apr 11, 2020 1:53 PM # 
Your program is amazing Barb and Thank you!
Apr 11, 2020 2:55 PM # 
Thanks for the update Barb. Tough times and tough decisions all around.
Apr 11, 2020 3:42 PM # 
Thanks for the update. As a career educator I often heard from other educators about the great potential for orienteering in the schools. It is great to see some of your ideas moving forward. I am happy to be a supporter.
Apr 11, 2020 9:57 PM # 
I´m impressed as always - probably more than usual. There´s so much going on at Navigation Games that will do a lot of good for youth orienteering.
We all hope you´ll be able to pick up where you left when everything goes back to normal again.
Apr 18, 2020 12:18 PM # 
And - another update!

Please, whether or not you can donate, go to and become a member of our site, or at least sign up for notifications of blog posts (see the form at the bottom of any page). And encourage educators that you know to become members. We'll post useful information a couple times a week. Examples: lesson plans, resources, research, tips for working with kids, opportunities to volunteer. Upcoming blog posts will talk about lessons we've learned working with school children, and research into factors affecting children's map understanding.

In the past week we raised over $2000. That is huge. Thank you!

Our bank did not get us a PPP loan before the federal money ran out even though we applied on April 3, the first day we could. They said they have our application ready to go as soon as more money is available. We do have enough money saved up for 4 months of salaries but are waiting to spend that money until we have programming scheduled to bring everyone back to do program design and preparation. We'll bring Tanairi back earlier to set up that programming. If we get the PPP loan, we can bring folks back sooner, as we have plenty of work for them to do.

If you have contacts at Google or other large tech companies, I'd like to start talking about getting sponsored to bring map navigation education to school districts. Can you help me find the right connections?
Apr 18, 2020 2:09 PM # 
Barb, check with Zan.

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