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Discussion: Club Information - updated spreadsheet

in: Orienteering; General

Dec 13, 2010 1:17 AM # 

I've incorporated a number of changes and reposted the O Club Spreadsheet on google docs.

In no particular order:

A) I found a good listing of US Metropolitan Statistical Listings and updated a number of club population sizes, plus some updates from club members. Some up, some down - same rules apply - if you don't like it - send me info and a justification. My attempt is to get those people in a 60 minute / 50 mile radius of the club center. Sometimes that isn't easy to approximate.

B) Added an Events Combined column - it would seem useful to count raw number of events in an area - could BAOC really have more than 34 non-A days and 5 A days?

C) NMO wanted to split as they operate two sets of events in two areas with less overlap than might be thought. I'm not sure Los Alamos is as isolated as portrayed, but I said I wasn't judging much and so the club data is split.

D) Added a "Club Age" column (with no data) as there might be some interest in seeing if any of the aspects change over the life of a club.

E) Added GHO from CA with "We're having the big event in this year (out of every 4) data". [bottom of data]

F) Added HVOC in NZ with essentially 2 club's worth of data over shared geographies. (Perhaps like combining CSU data with DVOA) [bottom of data]

G) Other minor club changes.

H) It is interesting to note success in areas with both small and large populations - and perhaps other clubs should attempt to mimic the success of the most comparable clubs. The goal of this chart is to highlight what is being done in other parts of the country.
Dec 13, 2010 2:22 AM # 
Interesting that plotting either event fees or membership fees against Starts/10k or Members/10k pop gives effectively no correlation. I would have expected at least a slight downward trend in participation as cost increased.

Dec 13, 2010 5:36 AM # 
I wouldn't have expected much relationship at all. Orienteers tend to be in upper SES echelons, so membership is toy money for quite a few. And you can compete without being a member in most events.
Events-members gives a relationship, but the interest here is in the outliers... Houston and Cincinatti for example. How do you gain members with fewer events, or put on more events than other clubs with the same membership base.
From maps 1
Dec 13, 2010 12:19 PM # 
Members -v- Events - Interesting - I think you mean Cincinnati (110 members, 45 weighted events) & Bay Area (271 members, 54 weighted events) not Houston (173 members, 6 weighted events).

Events Combined - The "Events Combined" column is the figure used for the "Events per 10k" figure, and I explained it in the first spreadsheet but left that off above. It is equal to (non-A days) plus (A days times 4) to represent an added weight to A meet days and acknowledge the greater difficulty of holding them.

The event breakdown further to the right appears to be just non-A events.
Dec 13, 2010 2:52 PM # 
I think TheInvisibleLog did mean Cincinnati and Houston. Bay Area is an outlier with Cincinnati; Houston is an outlier on the other side of the line.

This is really helpful. It gives our club a reasonable target for growth in number of meets.
Dec 15, 2010 8:05 AM # 
Yes, I did mean an outlier either side of the line. And I'd be interested to hear how a club with a small number of events maintains membership numbers, and a club with a large number of events to members avoids burnout in membership. Any comments from the informed?
Dec 15, 2010 12:01 PM # 
I'm from Cincinnati, so I know how it works there. If Cincinnati did not have Mike Minium, Cincinnati's numbers would be much closer to the statistical average. The rest of us mortals stand in awe at his work.

But Mike is not the only one in Cincinnati who is involved. Even without Mike, I think our number of events would still be above the statistical average. About 5 to 8 people in Cincinnati have "caught the orienteering bug" and come out to almost every event in Cincinnati. All of these people organize about 1-4 events per year. For me and a few others, having access to lots of events has made me want to come to more events.

Winter 2010-11 is our third TROL season for elementary age thru high school. We set an event almost every weekend from mid November through mid March. This gives us a good scheduling goal to fulfill.

Can someone please make a graph of yearly starts vs members and members vs # of events and starts per event? That data would be interesting to see.
Dec 15, 2010 12:08 PM # 
There were 55,098 total starts in 2009 (including A meets and local meets).

I just made a "# of starts per event" column. Click here:

[[Edit: I think it works now GuyO]]
Dec 15, 2010 1:02 PM # 
following with TheInvisibleLog's questions "How do you gain members with fewer events?"

well for starters a club can focus on other programs that are attractive to people such as a strong athletic development program or permanent courses. I would argue that a club is more sustainable if it 'gains members from fewer events'.

If we look at many triathlon or running clubs (at least locally here in southern Ontario) they don't host races or if they do then it is very few. Yet they have lots of members (and are sustainable) because people pay to be in the club for the coaching they receive or to join other athletes of similar ability to 'train' together. And the 'training' is as much social as it is 'training'.
Dec 15, 2010 2:03 PM # 
@Adam: Could not access the spreadsheet, even with a Google username.
Dec 15, 2010 2:20 PM # 
...All of these people organize about 1-4 events per year. For me and a few others, having access to lots of events has made me want to come to more events...

Thanks Adam. It is interesting to get a glimpse of the inner workings of the "OCIN Miracle." Those of us in other Midwest and Heartland clubs stand in awe; coming to The Pig A-meet each spring for us is like getting a fresh "How to..." lesson.

I notice that you're still a teen...would you give us a bit more information on how you first found out about orienteering, and what was it that initially attracted you so that you began to come to events frequently? What courses do you currently run, and what other sports do you like beside O?

OCIN has followed the "European" model for many years...a strong effort to develop youth orienteers. In the Nordic countries for instance, more than half of the participants at big national events are teens. And just as hammer mentions about triathlons in Canada, those teens join separate orienteering clubs not affiliated with school; very few Nordic schools have big-time sports programs. Sports clubs exist separately from schools. And the advantage is that when a kid graduates from school...his sports affiliations are not affected, as they are in the US. He continues to enjoy his club membership: for training, coaching, competition and social needs.

Yes "O in Schools" programs would be nice. But I think OCIN has showed us an alternative method to develop youth interest in the sport, and it would be interesting to learn more about it.
Dec 15, 2010 3:02 PM # 
55,000 starts in 2009(local +A) according to Adam. The strategic plan quotes 43,000(local +A) starts for 2009 with a target of 60,000 starts for 2014. Someone has the wrong number. Can anyone provide the correct number?
Dec 15, 2010 3:33 PM # 
New Mexico Orienteers has a few junior members. Most of them are "born to" the club, though. I have been training informally some homeschool kids and the results have been brilliant; they've brought their whole family into the club. Other juniors are brought to our meets by their parents, or scout or JROTC groups. So far, none of the scout and JROTC kids have come back on their own or with their families. I think we need a great youth-oriented brochure or at least a postcard to hand out to each one of them.

I had a contact this week from a junior who has just moved into the state, who was involved in an interscholastic league in another state. I am stumped re how to engage him in the club, though. He will have to persuade his family to bring him to our meets and he lives 3.5 hours' drive away from our nearest map. He may be able to take a private plane (I kid you not) then catch a ride with one of our local club members.

In New Mexico, it is very hard for juniors to get involved on their own because public transit is limited. The state has made incredible improvements to public transit in the last few years, but only a few of our maps can be reached by public transit.

Where it is possible to get to the orienteering meet by public transit, the club needs to give detailed directions on how to use the public transit.
Dec 15, 2010 4:24 PM # 
...Can anyone provide the correct number [of starts]?

Not sure where Adam got 55 000. If you add the two Start columns on the O-Club Info spreadsheet, you get

Local meet starts: 41 732 + A-meet Starts: 6646 = 48 378.

However I don't agree with bgr's Strategic Plan figures. Here's a direct quote from the Strategic Plan presented by Glen last March. The first OUSA "Goal" contemplates
120 000 combined starts by 2014:

Increase starts at both local meet and A-meet level.
• Local meet starts: 2009 = 35,000. 2014 = 100,000
• A-meet starts: 2009 = 8,000. 2014 = 20,000
Dec 15, 2010 10:14 PM # 
This is a little off point, but is information so nifty that it's worth a look: DVOA's course information for the DECADE (thanks to Kent):
More of the same:
And more available at the same links by paging forward and back.
Dec 15, 2010 10:57 PM # 
could BAOC really have more than 34 non-A days and 5 A days?

In 2010, it is/was 35 + 3, with one more event by Meridian Geographics, one by Get Lost!!, and 8 by terraloco. There will/may be 8 A meet days in 2011 in the Bay Area (6×BAOC, 2×Get Lost!!). Neither MerGeo, terraloco, nor Get Lost!! are Orienteering USA clubs, but all three organizations are working hard on improving that event/population head ratio towards the same league as OCIN's; to get it there I guess there should be about 120 events each year, i.e. more than two each weekend. It's an achievable goal, but hardly the correct one—seems that the latter would be larger events, not more events.

Also, I don't know about this "weighted" business. Here in BAOC-land, there is certainly a continuous progression from fun events to C to B to A. Some B meets have larger attendance (and sometimes, better courses) than A meets; A meets always have the best maps. I'm not sure what the reason would be to count one A meet day as precisely four local days.
Dec 15, 2010 11:46 PM # 
@chitownclark.....I got my figures for starts off the strategic plan currently posted on the Ousa website, top of page 3. The start goals for 2014 you stated are also stated differently in the posted strategic plan. Check out page 18 where the numbers are significantly lower than the ones you qouted. The numbers on page 3 and 18 in the strategic plan seem to conflict with themselves.

We now have Adam's number(55,000), chitown's number(48,000) and a number i got off page 3 of the strategic plan(43,000). Anyone know the actually number of starts(local +A)?
Dec 16, 2010 2:12 PM # 
T/D - The weighting is clearly an invention of my own...

I prefer A meets - sure there is a cost disadvantage, but the quality of event, terrain, map, and competition make up for that. Yes, I'd be unable to get to more than a handful a year, but since that currently isn't available, we're talking theoretical here. (Yes, I know if my monetary situation and schedule permitted, I could go to that many, but that currently isn't feasible...)

So the question is - why do clubs hold so few A meets?

Because it's a lot of work.

I don't know anybody who wouldn't like more if somebody else close by ran it...

ROC can hold a local event with about 16 volunteers - see our volunteer signup form here:

When we hold an A meet, the volunteer needs triple (or go up more than that), and the associated stress goes up as well.

So - If I'm designing a measure to compare how often local clubs have events, (and I was) I'm going to build in an incentive that allows a club that hosts A-meets to see a modest "bump" in their results. This puts the added stress and event needs into context.

And I would say that a club that could put on an A meet could very likely hold 3-4 local events instead of that A meet.

Could that number be 3, 5, or 3.6? Sure - but four seems like a nicer number to work with;-)

And as a comparison number - I no longer think events per capita is that useful. The raw number of events is good, and the events per club member could be another way to go.

All reasonable suggestions and modifications are on the table - so go ahead and outline a change with justification.
Dec 16, 2010 2:41 PM # 
From my POV as an organizer, the main barrier to holding an A meet is the need to decide to do it far enough in advance that there is ample time to get the sanctioning and advertising in place. Many volunteers are not prepared to commit so far in advance, so there is a significant element of gambling.
Dec 17, 2010 12:54 PM # 
For the numbers, I was counting up everything in the "2009 starts" column and the "A starts" column. But I think the bottom 2 rows (GLOF and Hutt Valley) messed me up. Should those be counted or not?

@chitownclark I notice that you're still a teen...would you give us a bit more information on how you first found out about orienteering, and what was it that initially attracted you so that you began to come to events frequently? What courses do you currently run, and what other sports do you like beside O?

I discovered orienteering when I was in 7th or 8th grade I think. Some ladies that we knew organized different outdoor events in my area, like identifying aquatic animals in a local creek, and some "map and compass" game called orienteering. My first course was about a yellow difficulty. We had a pretty detailed group instruction at the beginning where they explained some things on the map and walked us to a few controls. I think there were about 20 controls on the course, and each one had a letter. We had a sheet with all the control numbers and a empty box for the letter at that control (think Wheel of Fortune). The letters that we found at all the controls spelled a clue that told us where a key was hidden. This key unlocked a wooden pirate's chest full of candy.

It was very family-oriented (I did it with my Dad and younger sisters), and it was much more than just finding flags in the woods. It gave me enough of an introduction for me to know that I wanted to try 'real orienteering.' I think that is the key - make it more entertaining for kids/families, but still keep the orienteering element.

You probably also want to know how I got into course setting. The website said "Course setters are needed for winter and spring events. Pick your date and park and contact Mike Minium." I'm not sure what made me think I should set a course. I think I set my first course when I was still running orange courses, and I only set the white and yellow courses the first time.
Dec 17, 2010 1:21 PM # 
If you're looking for US data, do be sure to exclude the CA and NZ data points;-) They were kind enough to send info over, so I've included it, but keep it on the bottom of the chart.
Dec 17, 2010 3:00 PM # 
About splitting the NMO stats in two: we have two clusters of members and maps, in Los Alamos and Albuquerque. They are as far apart as Tucson OC and Greater Phoenix OC, so I thought it would be interesting to compare. And it is. Some NMO folks have thought the membership in Los Alamos is far lower than it should be, and that may be true (by some measure), but in comparison with other US clubs our Los Alamos contingent is in great shape. Albuquerque is where we need to focus more attention on developing the club.

This discussion thread is closed.