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Attackpoint - performance and training tools for orienteering athletes

Discussion: 'Remote Learning' Orienteering? Does a program exist?

in: Orienteering; General

Apr 19, 2020 7:11 AM # 
Schools in in many parts of the United States are now told they are going to be on 'remote learning' for the rest of the school year - about six more weeks. This has already been announced in Florida.
So the question for you is can you point me toward an existing package of 'do it on your own' orienteering instruction I could send to our some 50 high school orienteering teams in the state?
Ideally it would show the participant how to read and follow a map, how to identify features and use certain types of features as attack points etc.
Ideally it would continue with how to make one's own map and use it and even how to recognize and add features to a map.
Key to what I am seeking is to stress map before compass because in our area with so many instructors being ex-military -no offence but - for them the map is just a piece of paper to use to find an 'azimuth'. I'd like to use this unfortunate opportunity to break that mindset.
I know there are lots of packages for teachers and coaches but is there a program where an individual can pick it up and learn competitive orienteering on his/ her own? 'O on your Own' or as a Cockney Orienteering Club might call it: 'O From 'Ome'.
Apr 19, 2020 7:25 AM # 
Here is an example of what I am NOT seeking. Someone in Minnesota should have a talk with those folks! They have a fantastic amount of woods with what looks like a great trail network and THAT is what they call orienteering!
Apr 20, 2020 12:20 AM # 
Gord, how about Discovering Orienteering?

Link on Amazon:

Pairs nicely with the GB team's Think Fast, Run Hard, Go Orienteering series.

Barb has some O at home lessons built on the Navigation Games website.

Various other links are on the Orienteering USA website (Resources - Youth Leaders, scroll down to School Resources).

The Scouts BSA Orienteering MB is pretty good, too - probably because some intrepid OUSA members helped write the content. ;-)
Apr 21, 2020 12:40 AM # 
Victoria: O at home: That's it. Thank you.
And the Brit series, that's good, too.
What I'm looking to prepare is packages of drills that leaders/ instructors who know precious little about orienteering can send to their students at home and the students, in a familiar environment, can get to know orienteering maps and how to use them. Hopefully the students never again get messed up by their first introduction to orienteering being the Silva 1-2-3 system.
And it leads me into wondering if O-USA, or O Canada too for that matter, has anything they can send to the person in Butte MT or North Battleford SK for example if they write in saying they heard about orienteering and are interested in trying and get involved. I'm thinking of self starter exercises, orienteering in neighborhoods, shopping malls etc, maps they can use when the O-map isn't available, how they can make simple O maps, etc.
Apr 21, 2020 1:32 AM # 
Some of that overlaps with a professional development I'm supporting in the fall, but it isn't going to happen sooner. Have to finish my own projects and graduate.

Check out the exercises in the back of Discovering Orienteering (also found in the old Level I Coach's Manual). Do you have a copy?

Also this:

I have not read through them in detail, but they have some good exercises and echo some of your sentiments above about a familiar environment and various types of maps. Perhaps Silva's update will be more to your liking?
Apr 21, 2020 10:17 AM # 
I've followed the links above and there's a HUGE amount of material to support a teacher of orienteering. Who in normal times can adapt it to the level of student, the location, their own experience, etc. I found lots that I wasn't aware of. But a one-size-fits-all recipe you can poke out to 50 schools, who can in turn poke out to students learning at home? I don't think that's possible.

I'm enjoying compiling weekly emails for 30 high school kids who have chosen orienteering, and we got to have 5 afterschool sessions before lockdown. Some of them are new, some have been going for 1 or 2 years, but I have an idea of their ability and what might work at home. But this is a favourable learning situation, you're hoping it will work with kids you don't know two levels away?

FWIW my favourite resource for teachers who are not orienteers is Its aimed at a younger teaching level, but the basis is that the teacher is not willing or capable of doing much preparation. We're still dealing with compass myths too, and unfortunately a lot of them are still there on Youtube.
Apr 21, 2020 4:18 PM # 
Nice, I'll have to add that one to my collection, too! Thanks, gruver.
Apr 22, 2020 3:27 PM # 
gordhun: Thanks for the tip-off about the St John's U compass course . In spite of the fact that I am a mathematician and an engineer my personal pet peeve is these awful compass and pace count courses that just wear grooves in the land and are boring beyond belief once you have done 2 points. MNOC tried unsuccessfully several years ago to see if St John's U would work with MNOC and develop a map for their nice terrain. With lidar now available that makes the mapping much easier and the access question the main thing to resolve. We have similar awesome terrain at Mille Lacs Kathio state park that will be the site of the 2021 US Master Champs . We have an additional ~ 1500 acres of that park which we may map in the future. We have a good amount of awesome glacial moraine type areas in MN but they tend to be rather distant from our hub of the Twin Cities.
Apr 22, 2020 4:58 PM # 
I'd like to add a slight variation to this: O for a complete beginner.

That is, at our regular events we always have someone around to give basic training to newcomers. They've somehow found out about us and showed up. Going out on the very beginner map makes a lot of sense and we need to orient them to orienteering.

Well - now that we aren't having normal events, I am very anxious about somehow attracting newcomers to orienteering and having them head out on a map without any personal connection to stress safety aspects. To me it would be very very bad if some runner found an advanced map online, decided they could go that far, and headed off into the woods for a terrible experience...

So I'd be interested in a completely online "so you'd like to try out orienteering" package that we could setup and then advertise as a great way to get out in the woods - for newcomers.

Anything like that exist?
Apr 22, 2020 7:30 PM # 
ccsteve There is an organization you should check out. It is called Northline Navigation, run by a guy named Chris Gkikas who has also formed an orientering club in Asheville, NC. So Northline and Chris are making custom made orienteering maps and courses so that people can go orienteering right out their front door - or close to it. Thy tell him where and he makes the maps. They tell him the level and length and he sets the courses on the map. People are paying for this and they are loving it.
It is an idea born out of the coronavirus crisis but I think it will be sticking around.
Here is their facebook page and web page
Apr 23, 2020 9:02 AM # 
ccsteve, I think there are several good "So you'd like to try orienteering" videos such as the Irish one the Australian series and the NE Ohio one

I hear your concern about newbies heading out on their own on a course that is too hard. Around here we had this problem at fully staffed pre-Covid events heh heh. "Only 3km? Poof! I'll give the 10k one a go. I've done lots of running." If the person on the rego is inexperienced, or timid, we have a problem on our hands. Other APers - are there any videos that address this better?
Apr 23, 2020 10:08 AM # 
Or perhaps we're just enforcing our format on someone who finds limited value in a 2-3K course. ;-)

I am increasingly fond of having an All Controls map, or at least an All Beginner-Intermediate Controls map on hand, with a line connecting the shortest, easiest route from Start to Finish as the map to hand to adventurous beginners as a Score-O. Discover at your own pace, distance, and challenge.

For kids or people who are feeling less adventurous, I'd much rather provide a bunch of short loops (2-3 controls, 2-400m) of increasing difficulty that loop back to a central point for check-in and feedback with a coach. That's not a format that works well under today's circumstances. But it has the advantage of providing rapid feedback and builds confidence much more quickly than starting on a typical beginner course.
Apr 24, 2020 1:18 PM # 
Thanks for the feedback.
Apr 26, 2020 2:12 PM # 
There is also the Silva Navigation guide. They used to have videos on their website, but I can't find them.
Apr 27, 2020 12:57 PM # 
Thanks for the point to the Silva Navigation guide but the first thing they mention is the Silva 1-2-3 system. That system has its place in recreational forest wandering but I think it is like an anchor for the beginning competitive orienteer who has the chance to learn the sport on a modern map.
Instead of using the map to find a bearing for the compass (The Silva way) the orienteer should be using the compass to set the map, like young choirs use a pitch pipe to to find the starting note for a song.
Yet year after year I see young orienteers come to the starting line, look at their map, go down to one knee, put the map on their thigh, get the compass from around their neck, go through the 1-2-3 steps and finally get going. Repeat at each control.
Why do they do that? Because that is what the instructor taught and he/she does that because that is the way they learned.
I've come across a number of orienteering teachers who recommend going through several lessons before introducing the compass. I like that approach.
Spending a period getting the class to do fieldwork to complete a schoolyard map is even better time that having the newbie try to master the compass.
So I'd like to get this distance learning module together to eventually teach the teacher to teach orienteering.
Apr 28, 2020 12:40 PM # 
I've been thinking about orienting the map using only terrain observations vs. using the compass to orient the map for awhile, and I'd like to offer a slightly different perspective.

There are two types of working memory, spatial and verbal. One allows you to hold a picture in your memory, the other, a list of instructions. For most people, one is more of a strength than the other. If you're operating using your weakness, a greater part of your mental effort is involved in this task, and less mental capacity is available for other tasks (like figuring out where you are and where you want to go).

So, if you're trying to orient a map to the terrain, and your strengths are verbal, you may struggle to look at the terrain, hold that picture in your head, and get the map oriented. But if you use a compass to orient the map, it is much easier to compare the map to the picture in the terrain and self-locate, because you don't have to perform mental rotation at the same time.

For some orienteers, the compass is an essential tool in getting the map oriented because of the cognitive load challenge. Once the map is oriented, I agree with the idea of focusing on matching terrain to map and map to terrain as the next step. But it's not a good idea to tell people there is a single "best" way to orient a map. We should take into account that people have different strengths and learn differently, and go from there.

I speak as someone who's coached kids with intellectual disabilities and needed the compass as a support to consistently orient the map, and a kid who got so enamored with her compass that the whole family put our compasses in our pockets for a year while she remembered that the map was of primary importance (yes, I'm talking about you, cmpblla). Perhaps a good approach is a curriculum with instructional moves so that those teaching know what to look for, and what to emphasize at a given time?
Apr 28, 2020 1:28 PM # 
The one thing I consistently do at MNOC meeta is help kids put the compass string around their wrist, with a girth hitch or a clover hitch (knots are cool ;), and explain why that is better than around the neck and that it helps keep the map turned the right way. Then I ask them where their whistle is, and that the whistle should go around the neck and tucked away in the shirt rather than in some pocket of your pants or in the backpack. I have the conversations directly with the kids, eye contact and attention on them, rather than the parent. The interesting thing is that on repeat visits, the students are more likely to be the ones taking lead on using that way of carrying the compass on the map rather than leaving the lead for navigation with the parent.
Another visual I use in schools, for upper grades, is the cellphone - having them open any map App on their phones, zooming in, lay the phone flat on a table or their palm and then slowly rotate the phone frame. Doing it this way rather than turning themselves in a circle more clearly shows that it is not the map rotating on the screen, but that the screen/frame turns on the map (a bird's eye view which does not change).

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