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Discussion: So what should my O' clubs do with their money?

in: Orienteering; General

Nov 30, 2011 3:03 AM # 
PG:
I'm a member of three clubs in the northeast USA -- New England OC (centered around Boston), Cambridge Sports Union, and Western Connecticut OC. I do bits and pieces of volunteering for each of them, but I'm in not in the inner circle in any of them as far as running the clubs and setting budgets or policies. I'm also only roughly aware of their finances, so apologies if my numbers are off.

NEOC has maybe 50K in the bank. I think it has had a modest surplus in recent years and the bank balance has been climbing. As far as using the money, I think there is the very occasional mapping project for which they pay professional rates. All other work for the club is done on a volunteer basis.

WCOC has maybe 15K in the bank. I think it has had a very modest surplus in recent years (after doing quite a lot to support the national team). It's been a while since there was a large new mapping project though I think there have been some smaller volunteer efforts.

CSU, well, I'm not sure anyone knows what it has in the bank. It made a major effort to host the well-received SML Champs this fall, including two new maps, one result of which has been that it seems no one wants to put on another A meet for another decade.

Again, apologies if my numbers or short summaries are off the mark.

So the clubs have some financial resources, and it seems clear to me that they could have more if they wished -- partly by an increase in fees (I pay $4 for a WCOC meet, maybe $6? for a NEOC meet), partly by attracting more participants. So right now it's hard to make a case that things aren't being done for lack of money.

On the other hand, the clubs are certainly short of people resources, people to direct meets, or set courses, or handle the nitty-gritty stuff of running the club. Or doing any marketing.

NEOC seems to draw a good number of participants, though it could certainly be more. It's organization has gotten much better, but it's maps are often pretty bad. WCOC seems to be quite happy with the status quo, except the key people are getting older and who knows how long the status quo can last. And CSU, well, I'm not sure what they want to do.

So what should they do?

1. Spend some money on big new map projects? This has certainly been done in the past. This usually brings with it a need to organize an A meet to pay the bills.

2. Spend some money on improving current maps (not trying to make them perfect, just decent). Maybe this has been done in the past? It's amazing to me how we are so picky in critiquing new maps, while at the same time so accepting of old maps that are by comparison really awful. Is there no happy middle?

3. Spend some money (i.e. actually hiring someone) to do PR, promotion, education, whatever. I don't think this has been done at all.

4. All of the above.

5. Nothing.

Just wondering what others think. I would be in favor of #4 (the clubs are not supposed to be banks), but I fear #5 is what's happening.
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Nov 30, 2011 3:28 AM # 
wilsmith:
I'm with you on #4. I'd rather see my money go into the club, which would then turn around and spend it in some useful way, rather than sit on it waiting for some (undefined?) future need. The three things you describe are pretty worthwhile in my books.
Nov 30, 2011 3:37 AM # 
ndobbs:
With a priority on #3.

Small map projects may be useful/necessary for #3 too.
Nov 30, 2011 4:01 AM # 
edwarddes:
CSU has made an effort over the last couple of years to spend down the surplus we had with the major mapping efforts at the Fells and Lynn woods. Most of the other mapping we do for park-o's and map updates is all club member volunteer time. All the money that was made from the SML champs, and the A meets of the past two years has gone back into these mapping projects.
Nov 30, 2011 4:07 AM # 
Hammer:
hire a coach/technical director.
Nov 30, 2011 4:07 AM # 
cedarcreek:
Several people in my club have basically convinced me that it's really important to hold a series of events for juniors and then work to get them and their parents involved in the club.
Nov 30, 2011 4:09 AM # 
acjospe:
I'd love to see what #3 could do, but my impression (from the Bill Koch League development in XC skiing) is that you have to dedicate a good number of years toward development of a program, as it'll take 3-5 years just to build momentum. Maybe somebody could be funded part-time for a few years, but this sport isn't exactly monetizeable, and I don't think you could really develop something into a permanent structure without adding a paid position. My $0.02.
Nov 30, 2011 4:10 AM # 
bshields:
At least in the case of NEOC, the issue with mapping seems to be a lack of mappers, not a lack of money. Momentum seems to be building for improved outreach/education, so putting some money behind that could go a long way. My impression is that the board has been thinking about these things and has some good ideas.

In the case of CSU, the club convulsed pretty badly during/after the SML champs and is in a period of introspective self-examination and soul-searching, mostly being carried out on an individual basis up to now, but should be extended to a group setting sometime soon. My hope is that the heads that butt will take their helmets off, in which case cool things may happen. Keep in mind that many of the people who make things happen in CSU are also making things happen in NEOC.
Nov 30, 2011 4:38 AM # 
Nev-Monster:
Your entry fees are $4 and $6??? Isn't what you get worth way more?
Shirley you can't be serious!

While #4 would be nice, I wish more clubs that are happy with the status quo just come out and say it.

Hang in there CSU post S/M/L!
Nov 30, 2011 4:43 AM # 
Tundra/Desert:
issue with mapping seems to be a lack of mappers, not a lack of money

Spend ~$3k on an H1B.

Your entry fees are $4 and $6???

... or instead of spending money on an H1B, don't spend anything until you have a better idea for whether the Commonwealth and its constituent jurisdictions are going to start charging you for permits close to what park usage really costs, like they now do in California (that's roughly $6 per head). Reassess the event fees (I, and common sense, would suggest ~×2). With newfound confidence, proceed to Step One (or indeed hire a coach/technical director).
Nov 30, 2011 4:49 AM # 
ndobbs:
Roger, they can.

@alex, if you weren't working with the ski squad, would you hypothetically consider building up a program over 3 years if you were paid a nominal couple of K per year?

And yeah, it it were 10$/entry one could pay a lot more.
Nov 30, 2011 5:39 AM # 
eddie:
NEOC should re-map BHE. Period. Basemap is done...sitting on disk...didn't cost them a penny. Old map needs to be brought up to same standard as BHW. Team members train on those maps. Pay someone to get it done. Then we'll all show up at the Traverse to celebrate!
Nov 30, 2011 7:34 AM # 
Cristina:
My instinctive response (I haven't thought this through) is that NEOC should spend the money to hire someone part-time to coordinate a serious effort to make a lot of smaller, easily-accessible maps in the Boston area AND start an interscholastic league. The first year is spent getting maps done and reaching out to local schools (make the maps close to the schools that seem receptive, offer low cost teacher workshops) and then start the league the next fall. Seems to me that even just 5 hours per week really devoted to this could result in progress.

Updating current maps is also a good idea, but the skills needed for that are harder to come by. Maybe the NE clubs could pool together resources for that visa and get a mapper in for a year?
Nov 30, 2011 12:37 PM # 
chitownclark:
...clubs are not supposed to be banks...

Clubs that have too much cash is more of a problem than clubs without enough. Isn't it a dichotomy that OUSA is charged with growing the sport, but the clubs that have the cash sit back and fritter the money away?

I served as Treasurer of one club that alternatively swung through the whole rags-to-riches-to-rags cycle:

(a) a gung-ho guy would join the club and promote more local meets
(b) cash would accumulate from increased meets and attendance
(c) Mr Gung Ho would press the club to make a new map and put on an A-meet
(d) Even more cash would flow into the club treasury
(e) At the annual meeting someone would ask "So what should the club do with the money? We're not a bank!"
(f) Each officer would decide that he could help with that problem
(g) Suddenly we're mapping remote areas across the state, a buffet becomes traditional at local meets, and the club rents vans by the week to take members to A-meets.
(h) The treasury balance plummets...problem solved.

If we're going to grow this sport, we need a better method to control, budget and intelligently spend all the cash that potentially can be made by the local clubs.
Nov 30, 2011 12:51 PM # 
Becks:
Has anyone thought what happens if the hypothetical promotion actually works (which I'm sceptical of to start with without some massive program like ARK)? At the NEOC meet on Sunday the car park was overflown, there were no bathrooms on site (there were some over a km down the road, too far for kiddies to walk) and the queues for registering were ridiculous.

The problem with the promotion is that it takes years to get to the state where the new kids on the block can do anything other than take people's money to help out. Hanging their controls, planning their meets etc, is all going to be done by the same exhausted volunteer base.

The second point is that increased numbers entirely changes the type of meet. Back at home there are a ton of regulations about things like toilets, parking and permit fees that I can definitely see coming into play here. Local meets can't afford to be this relaxed, and the role of organiser particularly becomes a lot bigger. And where do those organised people come from? Exactly. One paid person bringing them all in does not automatically make it all okay.

After years and years of strategy and development and hundreds of hours of personal effort back home, I think I can honestly say that I am happy with number 5. I do have the advantage of going back to a place where the sport is still likely to continue on some scale if I do that though.
Nov 30, 2011 1:36 PM # 
j-man:
Despite having no money, I think CSU may have more good maps than NEOC.
Nov 30, 2011 1:46 PM # 
Hammer:
@acjospe
I think it is fair to say that we in GHO have shown that the sport is monetizeable. Adventure Running Kids here in Hamilton now brings in revenues sufficient to pay a half to two-thirds time salaried position. We started ARK 18 months ago. Participation went from 80 to 105 to 150. The key to the growth of that program was our smart curriculum and our investment in a half to full time employee to get things going.
That was a tough decision. Make maps (like we have done for decades) or hire a part-time employee so we can grow the sport.

@becks
ARK need not be massive but don't underestimate the interest in parents to get involved. Since ARK has started GHO has added 30 or so new parent volunteer club members and we substantially grew our club volunteer base. But we developed our curriculum around participation and not so much on racing so the numbers are high and the revenue is high as well.

@PG
Perhaps NEOC/CSU would like to open an ARK franchise!


Prior to introducing ARK the main incentive I had to volunteer my time in the sport was to see more maps being made. We now have lots of maps in southern Ontario that remain seldom used because as the map numbers grew the sport did not. ARK, on the other hand, was an investment that not only grew the club, dropped the average age of the club substantially but also is very much financially sustainable. It is now very likely priority #1 for GHO. This week is our final week of our ARK programs for the autumn session. Even though it has rained 100m over the last 4-5 days and the high is +1C in the evenings I expect we will have 200+ kids doing an ARK session this week.
Nov 30, 2011 2:01 PM # 
Becks:
How many ARK kids were at the Ottawa O Fest? Junior numbers still looked very slim there. (Not an attack, as I see above the emphasis is participation and not racing).
Nov 30, 2011 2:23 PM # 
ndobbs:
@Becks
So I think if WCOC or HVO quadrupled their membership, the club could happily split in two, cover a less geographically unreasonable amount of terrain, people could spend more time orienteering and less time driving and it wouldn't change event participation rates all that much.

And WCOC/HVO each covers plenty of terrain for 10 clubs.
Nov 30, 2011 2:24 PM # 
Hammer:
Only about 5 or 6 went to Ottawa but we didn't advertise it to our kids. Yes the aim of the program is participation (like house league is in soccer or hockey). Our ARK Attack group is more equivalent to a rep or all-star team and many of those kids are now at the level that they could start attending out-of-town races. Its just a lot easier for parents to have their kids racing 5 minutes from home vs. 5 hours. To solve this issue we are launching a kids race series in southern Ontario next spring/summer. Our aim is to have races with 200-300 kids each. But we are judging our program on smiles, laughter and participation and not championship medals. I think orienteering in North America has been a little bit too much race centric.
Nov 30, 2011 2:26 PM # 
ndobbs:
@hammer you're getting soft in your old age
Nov 30, 2011 2:27 PM # 
Canadian:
I would like to see more clubs hire professionals to take on rebranding efforts. Hire a professional to come up with a slogan and slick modern looking logo, design a simple easy to use and attractive website and then once that is done you can go ahead and develop programs. But until that rebranding is done to make the club look professional and modern everything else you do won't have nearly the same effectiveness. It's all about presentation.
Nov 30, 2011 2:47 PM # 
acjospe:
@ndobbs: possibly. Lots of factors to consider there.

@hammer: I didn't mean to snub ARK - you guys have clearly figured it out. Maybe you're too young a program to know, yet, but do you get any return in terms of elite development from the ARK base? Or is that not your goal?
Nov 30, 2011 2:57 PM # 
PG:
One thing to keep in mind with any of the ideas -- because we are talking about spending existing funds -- is what the impact will be on future revenues. If there is no impact, then you are talking about one-time expenditures. If there is some increase, then you have the possibility of recurring expenditures. Which is why I like #3 (more marketing/education), because it should generate quite a lot of new revenue.

And I think Neil's point (more orienteering, less driving) is right on.
Nov 30, 2011 3:18 PM # 
ndobbs:
And the other point is this stuff depends on having someone or some people who want to get things moving. If your club doesn't have such now, keep making money and making sure those who could be interested know there is money to spend.
Nov 30, 2011 4:05 PM # 
Soupbone:
#4 of course! We need to do everything , spend money to make maps, promote the sport etc. What happened to " if you built they will play". Ok whatever, but my club needs and is working on situations that might help solve some of this. But it will be an experiment of meet based management systems. Less volunteer burnout and more meets?? That is all I can say for now. I love the idea of some insane attempt to make our clubs more like clubs overseas. Clubhouses, busses, sauna's, weekday training groups, social networking after meets. Good luck and god's speed.
Nov 30, 2011 4:21 PM # 
Eriol:
How about some initiatives that will actually makes the club more attractive to be a member of? Like subsidized entry fees for A-meets, a bustrip to NA champs in Pennsylvania, free O-clothes. Or is it a no-no to actually do things that make your club better and bigger than other O-clubs? A gentlemens agreement to not recruit from other clubs? Spending the money on maps will benefit the whole orienteering community, not just the club members.
Nov 30, 2011 4:29 PM # 
Tundra/Desert:
Less volunteer burnout and more meets??

The recipe isn't saunas. It is events closer to where people live.
Nov 30, 2011 4:51 PM # 
jtorranc:
From my perspective, 2 is a no-brainer even if your only goal is to serve your current members, i.e. whether your club wants to grow/has worries about long term sustainability or not. I'm surprised how little comment there is in favour of that. Maybe it isn't controversial enough for most to feel they need to chime in in support?

I agree with Neil that many of our existing clubs cover much larger regions than ideal. In the specific case of QOC, I think we ought, at a minimum, to split into a DC-centered club and a Richmond-centered club and ideally also into an independent Baltimore-centered club. However, I can't see that working until we've grown a fair bit in terms of membership living near Richmond and Baltimore. Maybe not, for the club overall, quite the quadrupled Neil prescribes for HVO and WCOC but perhaps even more than that around Richmond and Baltimore before it would be possible for them to split off and run independently as self-sustaining clubs without utterly heroic amounts of effort from very small numbers of volunteers.
Nov 30, 2011 5:36 PM # 
j-man:
I basically agree with jtorranc.

Sure, as a long-term goal it is great to have clubs near where people live (the cozy Scandi-model), but we aren't at critical mass anywhere in this country for that to work well (viz., splitting up existing clubs into geographically-specific ones.)

There are lots of precedents when it has failed. HVO, for instance, used to be geographically specific. Now it is just small.

SVO, Pocono, etc...
Nov 30, 2011 5:45 PM # 
Becks:
I'm with j-man. The cosy Scandi model doesn't even work in the UK, never mind here. You need more people before you can get more local. Otherwise the same people work harder for even more diminishing returns.
Nov 30, 2011 7:48 PM # 
eddie:
BHE bhe bhe bhe bhhh eeeee (echo) (echo) (echo) (echo)

A new map of Blue Hills East will increase Traverse starts (by at least 1). Take Cristina and Vlad's suggestion, join forces NEOC-CSU, split the visa and flights, (re)map everything in your respective queues in one big lump (staring with BHE, of course). Pay Ed to make half of your basemaps, and let the Team make the rest for a donation. Ian and Brendan can coordinate the effort. Maybe Barb on the NEOC side, although she's already heavily involved with those successful kids programs. Leave coach free for the maps he's already working on. Ian and Brendan can probably handle it all.

Then you'll be done with maps for a while and can either sit back and rebuild savings or start that marketing effort. By that time even the Federation may have some results to show for its own huge marketing expenditures. Maybe. GHO might be a better "comp" to follow though.
Nov 30, 2011 7:56 PM # 
Bash:
Sure, as a long-term goal it is great to have clubs near where people live (the cozy Scandi-model), but we aren't at critical mass anywhere in this country for that to work well (viz., splitting up existing clubs into geographically-specific ones.)

One of the clubs I belong to, the Caledon Navigators, is dissolving at the end of the year for that reason. There are 5 other clubs within 100 km so the people who are keen will still be able to orienteer. We will lose the ability to build the sport at a local level - novices, kids, etc - but for the few volunteers with expertise, the club had become almost entirely about giving without much getting. That's not sustainable.
Nov 30, 2011 8:10 PM # 
jjcote:
A real map of BHE would clearly be better than what's there now. Heck, the lidar by itself would probably be better than what's there now. But the underlying terrain would still be BHE. It's difficult for me to get motivated to drive an hour to orienteer in the Blue Hills. (In terms of location, it is excellent, of course.)
Nov 30, 2011 8:50 PM # 
bshields:
So... where would you like to orienteer in Boston?
Nov 30, 2011 9:12 PM # 
IanW:
I'm in favour of #3 for clubs that have a fair amount of money sitting around doing nothing. But there's no point in marketing unless you have a decent product to market. I get the impression that event series along the lines CSU Park-O series are a rarity in the US - simple, regular and accessible races with only a couple of courses, which are fairly easy to organise/run - or you could even pay someone to do so. Might need #2 to happen first, along with some more maps of smaller local areas.

One of my friends commented to me recently:

"The number of people who would enjoy the challenge of running around a course in a forest using a map is probably quite high. The number who are willing to spend a few/several hours of their time driving to get to said forest is significantly lower..."
Nov 30, 2011 9:21 PM # 
bgallup:
Fort Warren on George's Island, in the harbor! Too perfect. Can't believe I hadn't thought of that before. Great day trip, by the way - o or not.. Hadn't thought of it from an orienteering standpoint until reading Brendan's question. Great views the asbesto-covered Gallop's Island to the north, too.
Nov 30, 2011 9:31 PM # 
Becks:
I think Ian is right, CSU seem to have it pretty sorted for people within Boston. I'm always envious of their park Os.

(And yes, I'm aware that this is the cosy Scandi system in the USA kind of. But CSU have 5-10 people who can help out with this stuff. I can't think of many other places where orienteers here live close enough together. New Haven has a permanent-ish 3 plus an extra up to 5 at any given date, but only two of them have set any meets this year, and one of them had to drive an hour away to their meet, which is just silly).
Nov 30, 2011 9:33 PM # 
edwarddes:
I did a basemap of Georges Island for Giovanni earlier this summer. Not sure if he ever got started on it though.
Nov 30, 2011 9:55 PM # 
PG:
I posed this question not as some hypothetical, pie in the sky, gee let's sit around and daydream about what we'd spend some money on if some dropped in our laps some day, but because the money is already here.

Suppose you were in charge. What would you do? So far it seems like there are more comments about what won't work, as opposed to things to actually do. Though there are some positive suggestions, such as Eddie's for spending it to get decent maps.

You're King or Queen of NEOC for a year. What do you do? Just sit on the money?

Or if you make a plan to spend it, is part of the plan a way to generate more income so this doesn't become a one-time deal? I would certainly hope that would be the case.

What would you do?
Nov 30, 2011 10:09 PM # 
Tundra/Desert:
I would host the Boston Night & Day Challenge and spend ~$5–10k on promotion, creating and maintaining a customer-relationship database, and a decently designed website and T shirts. I would indeed spend $3k on an H1B for someone who could map everything that can be mapped within ~3 km of the T, and get started on hosting weekly or twice-a-month Sprint and Middles.
Nov 30, 2011 10:10 PM # 
ndobbs:
@PG, I think that depends on having someone willing to carry out the project. I could say spend 5K on marketing and 10K on coaching beginners, but that sort of money isn't a salary, so you would need someone local who is willing to put in the time on weekends or whenever.

So I guess if I were NEOC head honcho, I would advertise that the money was there and ask people whether they would have a use for it to do something for the club. And it could just be arrange land permits and a H1B visa and map a few new areas, but someone has to take charge.
Nov 30, 2011 10:15 PM # 
PG:
One of the things that has made Hammer's kids program possible is paid staff. Without it, the program doesn't happen.

I would think some portion of any significant undertaking would be pay/salary/stipend, call it what you want. If you want to make things happen, you really limit things by relying totally on volunteers.
Nov 30, 2011 10:20 PM # 
Canadian:
10K isn't a salary but 10K plus whatever you're charging these beginners? Even $5 for an hour's session times a manageable group of 8 beginners is $40 an hour. The 10K then only needs to cover prep time and other costs like map fees etc.

I agree with Neil with that addition that as well as taking charge someone has to be not afraid of hiring people. Money spent well is money invested and generally hiring a professional will yield a professional product - something people are willing to pay for, be it a professionally run event, lessons, or whatever else it may be.
Nov 30, 2011 10:27 PM # 
jtorranc:
I think I was clear - I'd put money into turning existing indecent maps into decent maps before anything else (unless you plan to stop using them). Speaking of which, is there really nothing significant beyond ~$3K between US orienteering and getting a foreign mapper an H1B? If so, why doesn't OUSA or some consortium of clubs already have a mapper on retainer?

BTW, I assume Boston Night & Day would be intended to make money, not just be a way to sink money into promotion that may or may not turn people out to other events. If so and no one wants to do it, hire Vlad.
Nov 30, 2011 10:35 PM # 
jtorranc:
Also, it's been said recently in some other thread - ponying up the money to be a sponsor of a big running race, have a booth at their packet pickup event, etc. could be a worthwhile use of money. I'm pretty sure Hammer said doing that for Around the Bay was, having tried it, deemed worthwhile by GHO.
Nov 30, 2011 10:38 PM # 
Rosstopher:
I'd love to see a Hittaut franchise in Boston. http://www.hittaut.nu/

It's a neat way to increase visibility and a fresh way to attract sponsors. I would think that you'd need to pay someone to coordinate with all the local authorities and someone to communicate with local sponsors. But I think that Boston is an ideal US city to host a program like this. A big map with checkpoints marked as well as sponsors stores highlighted (with a checkpoint out front, for example, of Marathon Sports at Cleveland Circle or the Kinkos in Chestnut Hill). We sell advertising space on the maps, and we sell advertising space on the website. We get lots of page views on the website by having people write in each checkpoint code, and we release 10 new locations each month to keep people coming back frequently. We have monthly prize drawings etc...

In Uppsala the maps are given away for free, but I could see selling the maps from retail locations or ordering them online and have them delivered to your house. I could also see the possibility of grants for this kind of project, as it promotes community building and healthy exercise.

No real idea of what it would cost, but think that having a large, hyped, well maintained permanent O course in Boston could help us with membership down the line.

(I'd also love to see an ARK franchise too)
Nov 30, 2011 10:46 PM # 
j-man:
I suggested to the OUSA ED that a value-add for the Federation would be for them to hire a foreign mapper (or domestic, if they could find one), on a full-time basis, shouldering the overhead, legal frictions, etc..., and then turn around and pimp that mapper out to the clubs. OUSA could mark up the services, cover the costs and likely profit, and provide something that is missing in American orienteering.

Either I wasn't persuasive or miscommunicated, or he was consumed with more urgent concerns, because the proposal was met with something like derision.
Nov 30, 2011 10:59 PM # 
j-man:
As for the $50,000:

I would basically do what T/D suggested...

Some refinements/details:
* $15,000 to develop ~10 1.5KM sprint/middle maps, located according to population density and transit access.
* $10,000 to production, focusing on social media advertisting, including a video spot.
* $25,000 to hire someone like barb (right out of school who is also interested in training/O, or sam), or to give barb a stipend to devote 20% of her time to doing what she is doing so well.
Nov 30, 2011 11:01 PM # 
acjospe:
I'm going to go more into depth regarding my thoughts on creating a youth orienteering devo program, with the caveat that I haven't ever really put this on paper before.

First thing, I think you need a really clear goal/mission statement. For me, the goal is twofold: To increase awareness of orienteering, and to create a base from which to develop competitive juniors/seniors. A third, less-focused goal would be to get more kids active and outdoors and having fun, but I feel that there are many programs already offering that, and it should be a given anyway.

Then you'd need to figure out the structure. I like the idea of offering multi-month sessions, so that you're not just signing up for one day, you're signing up for the entire season. This creates some continuity, and a sense of community for the kids in the program. You would charge per session, but maybe offer a discount if they sign up for all three sessions (spring, summer, fall). Kids would meet 1-2 times a week for 1-2 hours (more?), and have focused activities disguised as games. Maybe a mix of indoor and outdoor education, depending on the age. The culmination of each session would be a local meet, where the competitive ones get to really go after it. This offers the usual babysitting setup of organized sports, as well as a peek into the competitive side of orienteering, to see if they like it.

As I see it, one of the key components to the success of youth hockey, gymnastics, karate, whatever, is that the families drop off their kids at the same location every time - consistency. So you'd use the same chunk of map for everything. Maybe once a month you could have a field trip to a different area, but I think for learning the skills, and figuring out how orienteering really works, you don't need huge amounts of woods. You can learn plenty of skills and have plenty of fun in a soccer field or on a golf course (e.g.).

If you actually had numbers and interest, it would be cool to offer a "team" option - an "elite" level for the kids who want to be serious. You see travel teams in most sports, and this would be no different. Maybe one extra practice a week, and a set number of competitions to which they'd travel. Unfortunately, a large part of the draw of a travel team is competing against other teams, and that doesn't exist around here, so they'd just be competing against themselves and the few o' kids already out there.

Another option would be to have an "elite" team, made up of people 20+ years old, who are actually training for the real deal. This would basically just be a senior team, complementing the junior travel team. Main point would be to have role models, but also to offer the seniors a place to train. It would also show the juniors and kids where they can take the sport.

Oh, and while I'm dreaming, we need a clubhouse.

Of course, maybe the best way to approach this is from the other direction - start with a club, build the clubhouse, and say, this club will fund an "elite team". These people will travel to A meets, they will get funding to travel to international competition, and they'll have responsibilities to the club such as publicity, team nights, training events, etc.

Once the elite team is funded, the junior team and kid program can follow. Because without a base to draw from, the senior elite crowd is doomed. They only get older.

But I think the best way to market this is some sort of orienteering summer camp type thing - babysitting style. The Bill Koch League does ages 7-13, that seems like a good range for kids to play games that are actually disguised training exercises; after 13 they can start to actually get serious about stuff. But then you need a junior team as well. I think you have to start with the kids, and when they get old enough to graduate out, you can think about a junior program. If skiing is anything to go by, you'll retain maybe 1 in 10 kids.

I don't know how much time all this would take, but it doesn't sound like a full-time job to me.
Nov 30, 2011 11:28 PM # 
Pink Socks:
There's a lot of good stuff in here!

First things first. I am pro-growth, and I am pro-youth (not to be confused with anti-old), so my comments will be biased towards this, and not, say, keeping the status quo.

I think you need to start with #3 (promotion & education) first. The more people you get into the sport now, the more people who can enjoy easily-upgradable existing venues in the near-term (item #2), and then enjoy new maps in the long-term (item #1).

As most people are saying here, the future of orienteering is bringing orienteering to the people, instead of bringing people to the orienteering. The status quo is to go out and make these highly specialized maps that aren't close to population centers. This results in fantastic events... for just a few people.

There's a misconception that we need perfect orienteering maps and great terrain for successful orienteering. While that's great for the existing orienteers, it's a hard sell for newbies.

Which is why having a Boston Night & Day Challenge or starting a Boston Street Scramble series would work. You're bringing a simpler, less-intimidating format of orienteering into the city where people already are. Once they start enjoying that, you'll get people for more "traditional" orienteering in those nearby city parks. And then into the woods.

Here in Seattle, our healthiest attendances are at urban events (Street Scrambles) and during our Winter Series (includes a school league with the average event venue being just 30 miles from downtown). Our best mapped terrain is all 80+ miles away!

----

I can't read Swedish, but the Hittaut thing sounds like what Road Runner Sports is doing, only from a non-orienteering pedigree. And the future isn't with printed maps, it's with electronic maps (no costs for printing).
Nov 30, 2011 11:28 PM # 
eddie:
Brendan, Jeff Shapiro (?) suggested a remap of Hale Reservation. You sent me the chunk of lidar data and I made a few prelim products for him. Maybe he's still waiting for something from me? Anyways, these are the products I can think of in the Boston area that might do with some effort:

1) BHE (basic lidar base already made)
2) see #1 :)
3) Hale Reservation remap (lidar base in prep)
4) Georges Island (base made, sounds like its in work by Giovanni)
5) Boojum Rock (Fells East - basic lidar base already made)
6) Lost Pond/Hammond Pond (lidar bases made. Lost Pond would be a new map)
7) Prospect (basic lidar base made, fieldchecking in progress by coach)
8) Mt. Wilson (basic lidar base made)
9) Arnold Arboretum (basic lidar base included on the Franklin Park base)
10) Warp the new Pine Hill (Fells West) back to its proper shape (this is on my plate)

There are millions of colleges in the Boston area. Lots of them have sprint maps. Are there others still begging to be mapped?

Anyways, these are the ones I can think of from way down here.
Nov 30, 2011 11:28 PM # 
Tundra/Desert:
hire Vlad

I don't think I'm available (will know more by the end of December, but it doesn't look like I can devote anywhere near full time to Get Lost!! in 2012). But, Eric/MerGeo and Rex/terraloco may be available. I should be available for Boston Night & Day in 2013.
Nov 30, 2011 11:36 PM # 
Tundra/Desert:
I suggested to the OUSA ED that a value-add for the Federation would be for them to hire a foreign mapper (or domestic, if they could find one), on a full-time basis, shouldering the overhead, legal frictions, etc..., and then turn around and pimp that mapper out to the clubs. OUSA could mark up the services, cover the costs and likely profit, and provide something that is missing in American orienteering.

Either I wasn't persuasive or miscommunicated, or he was consumed with more urgent concerns, because the proposal was met with something like derision


I can give more background on this, but Clem is essentially right, and I have been pushing about the same program and met with about the same response. O USA started pursuing its own way of hiring non-U.S. mappers in early 2011, and it went nowhere as I had said in 2010 it would. For the most part, clubs appear to have zero interest in doing things legally when they can do them illegally, and O USA doesn't have a budget for going H-1B way; it tried something that appeared cheaper and more flexible, and also was such a niche and weird way of doing things that it instantly appeared to have no prospect of success. I had offered to handle all H-1B paperwork (I personally filed several H-1B applications, all but one successful).

I have a list of people (three people) interested in doing H-1B, I am not pimping them illegally.
Nov 30, 2011 11:55 PM # 
eddie:
I assume the Boston area has its own set of E-punch gear? Is it lacking anything? Maybe a purchase of extras that might be of use, like the small portable splits printers for training events or a couple of radio controls. Or maybe just a few more units. How about something for Ed in the arena/results/tech area? Invest in a good setup and you could rent it out to other clubs.

We used one of those portable printers at a WCOC-sponsored training camp once. Made the event super easy. Everyone hang a few units. Run the course and get instant splits without a computer or any other sort of setup. So maybe you guys already have them.
Dec 1, 2011 12:10 AM # 
Greg_L:
It just so happens that what Vlad refers to as the "niche and weird way", the J-Visa program, is good enough to be used by the National Ski Patrol (to bring in ski instructors seasonally), as well as NOLS and Outward Bound (to bring in guides/leaders).

However, in a post-9/11 world, it turns out to be much harder (and more expensive) to become a J-visa sponsor than it was for those organizations when they first applied. If you've got enough money burning a hole in your pocket, I'll be happy to put you in touch with the attorneys I've spoken to, who will fight the battle for us but without any guarantee of success. I don't recommend it.

So where does that leave US clubs looking for a "legal" mapper? First, consider your own local talent. If you need to look elsewhere, take a look at the OUSA webpage listing available mappers. [If you're a mapper who's not listed, contact us.] If possible, hire an American, or a Canadian. If that's not possible, reach out to Australian mappers, who can be brought in via an E-3 visa. And if you need any other nationality of mapper, and you're both patient and have the money to pay for the H1-B visa application in addition to the travel and salary expenses, plus most likely, expenses of the "paperwork facilitator", whether it's Vlad or someone else, speak up.
Dec 1, 2011 12:25 AM # 
Tundra/Desert:
patient and have the money to pay

The fee for the application is $1575, plus $1225 if you can't wait (premium processing gets the application considered in less than 15 calendar days), and I charge $304, so altogether it's $3.1k. Most clubs will not be able to have the application approved because of the lack of a payroll record (failing the so-called "ability to pay"). Orienteering USA should have no problem. The next available date to start is 01 October 2012 and applications for that start date will be accepted in April of 2012.
Dec 1, 2011 12:40 AM # 
j-man:
I don't want to get into the nuances of these different sorts of visas, but I do have to point out the deficiency I see with the J-1... it is good for commodity-type entrants--essentially where you just need bodies, and don't care if person A comes but can't come back. That is not the case with mapping, where you want to identify specialized talent, fully vet it, and hold on to it for a period of time.

An O-1 might work for this, but an H1-B has a higher chance of success, and T/D's cost numbers are on target. For a full-time employee, that isn't much on top. And since OUSA would be passing along all costs (but incurring the upfront as they alone can do), it is low risk.
Dec 1, 2011 12:46 AM # 
Tundra/Desert:
Zero chance with O-1. The response will be "We don't know what you guys do, since we've never heard of it, therefore the beneficiary can't possibly be extraordinary".
Dec 1, 2011 1:06 AM # 
Greg_L:
State Dept did dismiss the O-1 as highly unlikely.
Dec 1, 2011 1:10 AM # 
Tundra/Desert:
The response to the one O-1 that I filed went like this: "The O-1 is for someone who is head and shoulders above others in her field. We don't believe the field you describe exists, therefore the beneficiary cannot be head and shoulders above others."
Dec 1, 2011 1:12 AM # 
ndobbs:
Create a wikipedia entry first.
Dec 1, 2011 1:18 AM # 
Tundra/Desert:
They don't go by Wikipedia. Their only allowed guidance is the Adjudicator's Field Manual.
Dec 1, 2011 2:05 AM # 
GuyO:
We don't believe the field you describe exists

How could we make O-mapping "exist" for these flesh and blood robots?
Dec 1, 2011 2:06 AM # 
ndobbs:
Sponsor enough H1B visas.
Dec 1, 2011 2:19 AM # 
GuyO:
HVO, for instance, used to be geographically specific.

@j-man: Could you please elaborate on this statement?

@everyone: I am the head honcho of HVO. Given that our "territory" includes some of the most desirable O-terrain in the country, HVO's sustainablity is of interest to many outside that territory. We have a medium size cache of cash on hand (in the bank); what do you think HVO should do with it?

Feel free to start a new thread.

FYI, current efforts: I am pushing for us to (finally) offer pre-course-printed maps and e-punching at all HVO events. Neil is working on a [edit] 4-5 event April-May series on Westchester County maps, which he thinks (and I hope) will be attractive to beginners. He is also our new Mapping Director, and has been allocated $3K to develop small(er) maps in populated areas.
Dec 1, 2011 2:27 AM # 
BorisGr:
Guy,

I think j-man means that HVO used to be several clubs in different geographic areas before merging to become HVO.
Dec 1, 2011 2:33 AM # 
Pink Socks:
Maybe this is a stupid question, but I'll ask it anyway. How does one become a good mapper? Let's say one or more US citizens wanted to fill this lack of mappers, but they currently lack the proper skills. How do they acquire these skills? Are there training classes somewhere? Or do you just learn as you go?
Dec 1, 2011 2:35 AM # 
iansmith:
Suppose you were in charge. What would you do?

As someone who is part of the group that's in charge of both NEOC and CSU, I find this discussion very interesting. CSU is broke has some revenue from SML and while the initiative of the club has been depleted by the A-meet, there is a lot of enthusiasm. I advocate CSU returning to what it does well - elite training, good intraclub camaraderie, and a limited set of events, like the Park-O series and the occasional C-meet. The Park-O series has so much potential for engaging the greater Boston community, and we have never really taken advantage of that.

NEOC is in a very different position, with far more resources and infrastructure. Part of that is a handicap because while we have many maps, a lot of them are bad. The three areas in which I think we should spend money are:
  1. Maps
  2. Educational programs
  3. Publicity
Maps are obvious; I'm on the mapping committee, and we're pushing through a plan for 2012. The biggest priorities in my mind are those maps that are used extensively, are outdated, and are interesting terrain. A lot of factors go into that analysis - parking, location relative to population areas, vegetation, contour variation, size of park, past history, and existing map quality. My top priorities right now are Powissett/Hale Reservation, Estabrook Woods, Norwottuck, Boojum Rock, High Rock/F. Gilbert Hills State Park, and sprint map development. Blue Hills East is an interesting park, but making a new map from scratch has too high an opportunity cost given that it's not the most accessible park. If I can figure out a way to update it for a small amount of money (and it direly needs attention), then I will. I'm hoping to engage Krum Sergiev, who among other things, updated Mt. Tom, for larger projects like Hale Reservation and Norwottuck. The H1B visa route is viable, and something I have considered, but I have been too distracted to give it the attention it requires.

This raises an obvious point - NEOC lacks neither money nor ideas. The club does lack manpower to execute these initiatives. The leadership is engaged with the existing operations of the club; as I'm sure you all know, there is a lot of paperwork and trivial but necessary activity that must happen for the club to exist. We need to do a better job recruiting people to engage in these activities. Publicity is an obvious example. November had considerable publicity mainly due to the efforts of CSU and the aftermath of the SML champs. NEOC reaped those benefits with increased interest and attendance at local meets. Jason Tong does some publicity, but NEOC has not really harnessed all the possibilities that exist for advertising our organization. I'm not sure how useful money is - apart from printing fliers and purchasing ads - most of the benefit is realized when an individual invests time and effort.

Educational programs are another instance where money is useful but insufficient. Manpower - a few driven individuals like barb, for example - are the driving force behind these programs. While NEOC has a good amount of money right now, our income is small, and I would be reluctant to start a program like ARK immediately without more proof of concept. Perhaps starting a test program over the summer, with a six week engagement, would lay the groundwork for a more substantial program.

Especially for those of you in the New England area, if you have an idea that you want to execute, please approach me or the club leadership. There are countless ways that I can use help, and many possibilities that can be realized if someone will take initiative. I encourage the rest of you to continue brainstorming ideas; this is really helpful for me to figure out how to best direct the clubs in which I have leadership functions.
Dec 1, 2011 2:37 AM # 
iansmith:
Guy, what about an A-meet at Harriman? I would also like to see all of Harriman drafted into OCAD; it's gorgeous terrain, but very hard for the broader O-community to use. Access to Harriman in OCAD would make training camps on some fantastic terrain much easier to implement.
Dec 1, 2011 2:41 AM # 
Greg_L:
I think it's high time for the Swampfox to wade into this discussion.
Dec 1, 2011 3:09 AM # 
jjcote:
Harriman is mostly in 0CAD now, and the remaining sections are in the process.
Dec 1, 2011 3:25 AM # 
GuyO:
@Ian: HVO is well aware of the desire for another A-event in our terrain. However, I'm not clear on what holding an A-event (soon) would accomplish to HVO's benefit, besides increasing the amount of $$ in our bank account.

Much of Harriman has already been OCADed. Regarding HVO-owned maps, I know that Sebago is in OCAD (have worked with it), Paul B is working on Baileytown, and there is a rumor that Greg B did most of Silvermine. Confirmation of that last item would be appreciated.

The other Harriman maps are Team USA-owned, so HVO has only been involved in their digitization as related to the Highlander: JJ OCADed all of Rockhouse, Lake Welch, and much of Jackie Jones (completion of that in the works). My understanding is that one of the graduated cadets will be tackling Pole Brook. I know Surebridge is in OCAD, but I have no idea who digitized it.
Dec 1, 2011 3:32 AM # 
GuyO:
@Boris: HVO is, in fact, the result of the merger of two clubs: Ramapo O-Club (NY & NJ, W of the Hudson River) and Westchester O-Club (Westchester County; AFAIK, no maps in NYC or in Putnam/Duchess Counties yet).

But that merger happened in the early 80s, so I suspect j-man's comment to have a more recent impetus.
Dec 1, 2011 3:46 AM # 
chinghua:
Testing my consulting skills here, and giving recommendations in a domain that I possess a limited knowledge of.

Follow acjospe's recommendation and define a very clear goal that identifies a specific target population and how you will measure success against that population within a given time frame. This will help prioritize all the wonderful ideas being posted here. If the target is priming the pipeline, perhaps really nice maps are less of a priority than education.

Secondly, I'm not actually a consultant so maybe the money could be spent on a real consultant who could help with strategy.
Dec 1, 2011 4:20 AM # 
j-man:
No, time flies, I suppose.

My point was just that there is a baseline level of scale that a club needs to survive, and while reducing driving time to events has all sorts of benefits, subdividing our clubs, whether they are thriving or barely surviving, in order to achieve that, is to put the cart before the horse.

As for achieving great things... it seems that orienteering has a tendency (like so many other organizations) to feed upon itself. Remove the shackles from the butterflies, iansmith. Butterflies are fragile, and once laden with chains, they will probably never fly again.
Dec 1, 2011 4:24 AM # 
cedarcreek:
I hope this doesn't seem heretical, but the first step is to convince the club that growth really needs to happen.

I think a lot of people who say, "We need to grow the sport" really aren't committed to doing what it takes to grow the sport---And I'm not even saying they're doing it purposely or with malicious intent---It's just that saying you want to grow the sport and then doing the same thing you've always done isn't going to work.

I am not being hypocritical because this is something I struggle with myself: "The club seems to be doing just fine. Why should we change anything?" The answer is: Because the same people keep carrying the load, and we just can't risk burning them out. We've got to get a critical mass of attendees so we can get enough volunteers to sustain the workload. Being satisfied with the same group of regulars isn't going to work:

I work with some really smart people who are ideal candidates for becoming hard-core orienteers, and I have convinced exactly 1 to attend an event.

Two years ago, I read an entire book about working with the media to publicize your organization. I even took notes. How many media people have I contacted? Zero.
Dec 1, 2011 4:33 AM # 
Hammer:
>I would be reluctant to start a program like ARK immediately without more proof of concept

Agreed. ARK started with a pilot project for 17 athletes (free) over 4 weeks in february 2010. a good way to test a few things and get the word out without a long term commitment.

FYI :We had 38 new kids try ARK tonight along with our normal 100 regulars for Wed. Night. Expecting 20 new kids to join our 50 regulars on Thursday tomorrow night. had 20 kids on Tuesday night as well. Busy three nights.
Dec 1, 2011 4:46 AM # 
danf:
If I had $30-40k to spend on a one-off project, I would fire myself as a volunteer website builder and hire a Drupal development company to build the functionality I have been working to implement, which will otherwise take years. This would include online event registration for all local meets, seamless integration with SI software, automated newsletters built from site content, automated press release and flier generation for each event, online membership handling with automated renewal notices, better routegadget integration, a mobile friendly design, and many other planned features. I would then release this as a Drupal distribution for any club to use free of charge.

If I had $30-40k to spend annually after the above project, I would hire someone to advertise and market all events across the country, with requirements for both print and online media. Tracking of event participation metrics would be done as part of the above software initiative. Club members could help in the collection of local marketing opportunities (such as local public access television or the free What's Happening type brochures that you often see in local coffee shops and outdoors stores) which would then be forwarded to the marketing professional. The goal would be for this position to increase participation levels enough to offset the expense of the position. I don't see this happening unless the initiative is national in scope.
Dec 1, 2011 12:01 PM # 
barb:
I suggested that NEOC give free membership to all the kids I work with, but that did not fly. I think the stated reason was that it would cost NEOC because we'd have to pay OUSA for each one. Anyway, probably not all that useful because most don't come out to events. I thought maybe as members they'd get more reminding about local events. But I guess you can get on the mailing list without being a member. But they don't just put themselves on mailing lists; somehow it felt easier to me to get them to give me their contact information if they were going to get a membership out of it.

I'm teetering on the verge of trying to create a club at the local high school. I'm also possibly in a position to expand my junior high school program to 250 kids, from 85. If there were someone else helping me do those things, it would be way way more likely to happen. Part time paid help might help. Transportation costs for the high school club might help.

My 5th graders did all become OUSA members this year to compete in the Championships. At $5 a pop it was a no-brainer, and the community here on AP helped with that. Some confusion ensued when ONA was trying to figure out what local club they belonged to, in reporting on those who medaled. (The answer was: no club.)

I do think that a high school club in Cambridge has potential. There are all these CSU people in the area who I'm sure would hang out with the high schoolers from time to time. I imagine not just training for and going to events, but also having the kids put on events for friends or younger kids; maybe organizing big games-with-maps in the woods. Cell phone orienteering, capture the flag orienteering, etc. For athletes and also for nerds, and for organizers and kids wanting to find ways to serve their community.

I think there are around 165 kids at that school now who have orienteered with me twice in junior high. The iron is hot.
Dec 1, 2011 12:14 PM # 
barb:
Also, maybe NEOC could make a rogaine map.
Dec 1, 2011 1:14 PM # 
Tundra/Desert:
what do you think HVO should do with it?

Use that map you have in the smack center of Manhattan. A few times a year, hopefully. If the permit doesn't eat all your money, spend the rest on some flyer/postcard distribution.
Dec 1, 2011 1:23 PM # 
Bernard:
HVO should use the money to take possession of one of the many cabins that are available in Harriman for very little money. Imagine the possibilities if the O community had access to a club house located on one of the WOC maps..
Dec 1, 2011 1:25 PM # 
jjcote:
Just to remove credit where credit is not due, I have not actually done much digitizing of the WOC maps. Surebridge, Rockhouse, and most of Jackie Jones were converted from Pat Dunlavey's original CAD files into 0CAD; I did some work on the conversion and filled in some missing bits. The data for Pole Brook has gone missing, and that is scheduled to be digitized by a Team member.
Dec 1, 2011 1:35 PM # 
Tundra/Desert:
Can I ask why we ran on high-res photocopies of the 1993-printing Rockhouse and Jackie Jones at last year's Trials?
Dec 1, 2011 1:56 PM # 
jjcote:
The Rockhouse data conversion happened this fall, and was used for the Highlander. Jackie Jones isn't quite done yet (and there are still plenty of offset-printed copies -- I don't know why those were not used).
Dec 1, 2011 2:15 PM # 
Tundra/Desert:
Ah OK. I was under impression after last year's event that Pat's CAD files, other than Surebridge, were lost.
Dec 1, 2011 2:17 PM # 
Tundra/Desert:
Back to the original discussion... if NEOC wishes to go the ARK way, one highly qualified individual is available. Catch is that it's only full time and only H-1B. One way to make it work is to do a split with DVOA or another East Coast club. It's complicated, but by no means impossible.
Dec 1, 2011 2:28 PM # 
PG:
From Ian:
This raises an obvious point - NEOC lacks neither money nor ideas. The club does lack manpower to execute these initiatives. The leadership is engaged with the existing operations of the club; as I'm sure you all know, there is a lot of paperwork and trivial but necessary activity that must happen for the club to exist. We need to do a better job recruiting people to engage in these activities. Publicity is an obvious example. November had considerable publicity mainly due to the efforts of CSU and the aftermath of the SML champs. NEOC reaped those benefits with increased interest and attendance at local meets. Jason Tong does some publicity, but NEOC has not really harnessed all the possibilities that exist for advertising our organization. I'm not sure how useful money is - apart from printing fliers and purchasing ads - most of the benefit is realized when an individual invests time and effort.

To me the solution is also obvious -- you hire someone. It may take some doing to figure out the details, starting with deciding how much money you're willing to commit, putting together a job description, then getting the right person, then regular review of progress both in what the person is doing and in what impact it is having. Note that I'm not talking about anything close to a full-time position.

Can be done. Major burden for the current overworked Board is the job description and the hiring process.

The position ought to pay for itself before long with increased attendance at meets.
Dec 1, 2011 2:31 PM # 
Tundra/Desert:
The position ought to pay for itself before long with increased attendance at meets.

But then you surely realize the drag on morale that would happen if a few certain individuals who disagree that the position is necessary take an active stance and point out the less-than-expected returns at every opportunity, as loud as possible... Buyer beware.
Dec 1, 2011 2:41 PM # 
sherpes:
create a club at the local high school

what barb said in her long post resonates. The future of this sport in terms of critical mass attendance for clubs to continue exposure of the sport to the younger school age demographics. In case if nobody noticed, but at some recent A-meets (and club meets), there were just a handful of kids. Compare that with a cross-country inter-school competition, where several hundreds participate.
Dec 1, 2011 2:44 PM # 
Tundra/Desert:
I question the wisdom of creating a club at a high school. There have been such, and dissipated once the interested parent's kids graduated, or shortly after. Something like ARK is an institution to stay.
Dec 1, 2011 2:51 PM # 
Becks:
I also see very little long term return from high school clubs back at home. There were two large schools that sent coachloads of kids to the big British competitions year after year, and from my year and the year either side of me, I can think of only two people who still orienteer from them. And this includes past JWOC team members.

Saying that, just having more kids at races has to be a good thing, whether they continue or not. More competition is a more inspiring situation than the current one for a potential future star (be that star athlete or star organiser, course setter, etc). If I were a junior over here I think I'd find it tough to get excited about the sport.
Dec 1, 2011 2:52 PM # 
Becks:
And to add to the Visa debate, a J has a maximum of five years on it (that's my Visa). So I agree with Clem that long term a H is a better solution.

I really think someone with money to spend should do this.
Dec 1, 2011 3:19 PM # 
sherpes:
very little long term return from [marketing to kids]

too bad.... I say this because I see a graying trend among participants in local club meets. One meet in particular, a two day local meet with four events and overnight stay, had more club volunteers than participants. The average age was at around 50...
Dec 1, 2011 3:20 PM # 
cedarcreek:
{OT sorry}
barb wrote: Some confusion ensued when ONA was trying to figure out what local club they belonged to, in reporting on those who medaled. (The answer was: no club.)

This actually came up at the Flying Pig this year, and I was told that an OUSA member with no club is called a "member-at-large".
Dec 1, 2011 3:26 PM # 
Tundra/Desert:
very little long term return from [marketing to kids]

No, that's not what Becks wrote.
Dec 1, 2011 3:43 PM # 
JennyJ:
with regard to long term return from high school clubs I think you have to look even longer term, then it does seem to work as you get families coming along where the parents did it way back at school themselves and now the kids are having a go they think it's a great idea to all join in (whereas parents who have never had a go can be a bit timid?). This is looong term though!
Dec 1, 2011 4:06 PM # 
Becks:
Hopefully this will mean a return of the Brocklebank one day Jenny! that would be brilliant!
Dec 1, 2011 4:07 PM # 
Iamstillhungry:
As JennyJ said, with kids the time horizon is looong term. At least I hope that in another 10-20 years the hundreds of kids that run through our TX camp and our NTOA events pays off. I have anecdotal evidence from a single orienteer that keeps my hope alive. He orienteered a single time, when he was 10, running with his dad, and always remembered how much fun he had. 25 years later he gave it a try again and was hooked. Then he hooked his wife. Now they teeter on burnout but keep on plugging just the same. I hope in another 10 years our efforts start paying off.
Dec 1, 2011 4:17 PM # 
j-man:
If I were a junior over here I think I'd find it tough to get excited about the sport.

I agree.
Dec 1, 2011 4:40 PM # 
BorisGr:
tomwcarr>> Is that single orienteer you?
Dec 1, 2011 4:49 PM # 
Nev-Monster:
Where is Spike and a Moneyball approach to the money?
Dec 1, 2011 4:51 PM # 
jjcote:
My own experience is that I orienteered once as a high school senior, and twice as a college freshman (the latter being a NEOC meet). I was very interested, and when I reconnected four years later I wound up going in full-bore. But in between, college provided a lot of distractions, and I didn't know how to find out more about orienteering. These days, with the web, information would be very easy to come by.
Dec 1, 2011 4:58 PM # 
Tundra/Desert:
with the web, information would be very easy to come by

And that's more bad than good for the current state of promotion and advertising of this particular sport, since other similar activities easily drown out the message with their flashier, more persistent, more professional, more appealing propaganda.
Dec 1, 2011 5:10 PM # 
jtorranc:
I'm now uncertain as to whether having an existing payroll as proof of "ability to pay" is crucial to sponsoring an H-1B or not - Vlad seems to be saying it is with respect to sponsoring a mapper but not necessarily with respect to sponsoring someone to run an ARK-like program. What am I missing?
Dec 1, 2011 5:47 PM # 
Tundra/Desert:
Ability to pay will be necessary to prove in both cases (and that's where Orienteering USA should step in). Just like I said, complicated but not impossible.
Dec 1, 2011 5:52 PM # 
j-man:
And OUSA does have ability to pay--both financially, and more importantly, operationally (payroll). It is uniquely well-suited to employee someone and to sponsor an H-1B.

Mapping is one of the most arcane and specific aspects of this sport. It is a sine qua non. As any strategy text will tell you, outsource those things which are commoditizable, or non-core; keep close, and foster things which are essential or differentiators.

Of all the services that OUSA pays for (or doesn't), this should be at the top of the list. Of all the services it could offer its clubs, which could be more valuable?
Dec 1, 2011 6:18 PM # 
Tundra/Desert:
The next step would be contacting your friendly Board members so this could be considered as a budget item.
Dec 1, 2011 6:39 PM # 
barb:
Another PR item in the Boston area came out today
Dec 1, 2011 6:44 PM # 
biggins:
“I yelled ‘I found it!’ as I ran through the thorns and sticks, until I reached up and pulled the control down out of the tree. I walked back holding it high.

Defensive orienteering.
Dec 1, 2011 6:57 PM # 
Iamstillhungry:
BorisGr>> Yep. That would be me.

re: OUSA support for mapping
Lack of new map is currently NTOA's primary impediment to holding an A meet. We don't have anyone local who can devote themselves to mapping a new 8 km^2. Thus, we need to hire and the costs add up: base map data/photos, base map production, cost/hr or cost/km^2 for the mapper, visa costs for a legal mapper, lodging costs for mapper, transportation costs (airfare and automobile) for mapper. If you don't have someone local to do the job, if you don't have someone who lives near the map, if you don't have someone to loan out their car, etc., this is a lot more money than a small club can afford. It's a lot more money than a small club can even pay back to OUSA as a mapping loan.
Dec 1, 2011 7:03 PM # 
Tundra/Desert:
Do you really need an A meet? As indicated, it is a lot of work, therefore a lot of volunteer burnout; and people will be super critical if even a small thing goes wrong. An A meet is also more likely than not to be held way out in the boonies, so its recruitment and promotional power is less than that of a well-run event closer to where people live.
Dec 1, 2011 7:05 PM # 
Iamstillhungry:
Of course a follow up question to what I imply above is why (or why not) should OUSA, or more precisely, other clubs, subsidize map development in the form of grants, not loans, to less wealthy clubs? Addressing that question could easily support its own thread.
Dec 1, 2011 7:14 PM # 
Iamstillhungry:
NTOA itself does not necessarily need an A meet. We do get a boost of enthusiasm from our base as well attracting a few new members. As a junior centric club it also generates enthusiasm and participation with those groups. Few have the resources to regularly travel to Interscholastics or any A meet. Hosting the interscholastics in our region is a big deal to them and generates increased participation both the year of and the years after the event. That said, we don't *need* to hold an A meet and can keep plugging along without it.

However, we have no problem with doing our share to support O on a national level. One way to do that is to host an event that others can enjoy, just as we enjoy going their events.
Dec 1, 2011 7:16 PM # 
Tundra/Desert:
Thanks Tom. My question was rhetorical. However, I can't help but notice diminishing returns for clubs that host more than one A event per year.
Dec 1, 2011 7:27 PM # 
jjcote:
Defensive orienteering.

Actually, the course that Barb sets up has some ordinary controls, and also a lot of "controls" that appear on only one team's map each -- these controls consist of a streamer and some tickets, which the team retrieves and cashes in at the finish for snacks or something. (I think that's how it works.) In any case, some of the controls are designed to be removed by the kids that find them.
Dec 1, 2011 9:13 PM # 
GuyO:
@Barb: The students' comments in the CPS article about teamwork seem a bit incongruous with this individual sport.
Dec 1, 2011 9:18 PM # 
ndobbs:
@Guy, sometimes I have trouble telling when you are being facetious.

Looks like good stuff is happening there. Is it a cost reason to only have one map per group?
Dec 1, 2011 9:44 PM # 
barb:
Each kid has their own map available, but they decide whether and how they use them. A lot of teams decide to give members different roles; sometimes those will rotate over the course of the day. Timekeeper, distance estimator, garbage pick-up person, whatever; and some of those involve looking at a map, and some don't. All of the kids do a lot of map work ahead of time.

Cost of printing all those maps, and all the training materials: I have majorly splurged on printing; and that is an expense NEOC could conceivably help with as well.

While the kids who attended the recent A meet got to choose whether to run individually or in a team, I'm a big fan of using a team approach to learning orienteering skills. Logistically it's useful to have kids in teams, but that's not the reason. I want every kid to have fun, and to experience success at a difficult navigational problem (in the case of the junior high outing: 3 yellow-to-orange-level controls on what is for some their first time in the woods, ever). Both of those things (fun, success) happen more easily when they're working in teams.
Dec 1, 2011 10:13 PM # 
ndobbs:
@barb, "conceivably"? This is surely what the money is there for.
Dec 1, 2011 11:21 PM # 
j-man:
@ndobbs. GuyO, facetious? I doubt it.
Dec 2, 2011 1:23 AM # 
gruver:
1. Great to have a "holy grail" topic in its own right, instead of hijacking other threads:-))

2. I think I detect a bias behind some of the suggestions. The experienced travel-to-the-ends-of-the-earth orienteer sees top class mapping as the best thing to do, to enable more A-meets. The stay-at-home person sees local mapping as the answer. The software person sees a bells-and-whistles website as vital. The person with kids in school sees school programs. The burnt-out administrator (perhaps as the result of the above) sees hiring. Etc etc.

They are all good things. And examples of shining success can be found for each. I suspect that behind each success is an outstanding person who is convinced in the benefits of the particular path, and is putting their considerable skills and time behind it. But clubs never have these standouts across all areas. Hence, on the evidence, they come to believe in "the one true way".

I think the trick is to recognise the "mover and shaker" and to support and encourage them in what they are good at.
Dec 2, 2011 1:59 AM # 
danf:
I think the trick is to recognise the "mover and shaker" and to support and encourage them in what they are good at.

Best advice in this whole thread.
Dec 2, 2011 3:03 AM # 
Hammer:
"mover and shaker" = PG
Dec 2, 2011 4:10 AM # 
Iamstillhungry:
Indeed, I don't think the clubs could go too wrong by giving all their money to Peter and letting him do with it as he pleases. They can have Spike audit him on occasion to make sure he is working at max efficiency. I would also recommend they steal his golf sticks.
Dec 2, 2011 6:06 AM # 
GuyO:
HVO's m&s = ndobbs
Dec 2, 2011 6:11 AM # 
danf:
I would definitely put Barb on that list as well.
Dec 2, 2011 8:07 AM # 
Jagge:
About mapping strategy. I have never understood why should we make so large new maps. As I see it, it's usually waste of money and resources. It may have been smart thinking 20 years ago, back then we sis offset print 15 000 sheets and used them for two decades. But world changed, that may not be the smartest move any longer.

Instead of making new 6 km2 map, you could make three 2km2 maps. Those would be big enough for most use cases, like kid's programs. Next year you enlarge one of those with 2km2 (would be now 4km2, big enough for A meet I say) and the other two with 0.5 km2, 3 km2 mapping that year. Third year maybe new 2km2 map, and 1 km2 enlargement of one of those 2 years old maps and/or updating your one-year-old parts. And so on, couple of years alter you drop off the map you mapped year one, let it be forgotten and 6 years later you it makes return. Club would have several "new" maps/areas every year, without having to do large mapping investments. About 3 km2 mapping effort per year would be great, and even less would do just fine (how big is the area PG just mapped?). You would never have to give kids outdated maps and tell them "be careful, this and that isn't mapped as it should because the map is old". For us older/experienced runners there would be something new every year on almost every map. And if there is need for organizing something, TT or something, there would be always relative new maps with new additional parts waiting.

If you map whole usable and use/print it out it's the next day it is revealed, old and used. And it will not be new and exiting until it first gets old, rotten and forgotten and then you make expensive re-mapping two decades later. Better never map/use the whole area, better always leave something out on purpose and plan well how map areas are used and recycled in the future.
Dec 2, 2011 1:13 PM # 
PG:
how big is the area PG just mapped?

Just about exactly 3 sq km, seems like more than enough room to set any course I might want -- bet I could squeeze a nice Billygoat in there -- will take about 65 hours fieldwork, a manageable amount, and plenty of room to do lots of courses. You certainly could do fine with a smaller area too.

Jagge sure seems to make sense. There's no need for an area to be able to hold a long M21 course. And with e-punching, you can wind a course around a small area in very interesting ways.
Dec 2, 2011 6:58 PM # 
PG:
Here's an attempt to summarize ideas from this thread --

1. Things that would involve OUSA:

-- 1A. Setting up whatever is needed to simplify the process of legally getting foreign mappers to work here. I'm not familiar enough with the details to know what the stumbling blocks here are (lack of money, lack of perceived need, lack of manpower to do the work?). But maybe that could be fleshed out enough to see what really would need to be done, and what resources would be required. Apologies in advance if that is already clear and I just don't get it.

In connection with this, are the USA-based mappers fully booked, or are they available? Anyone know?

-- 1B. Seriously hiring professional help for the web page development. This may cost serious money, but it would be nice to know what would really be involved, and what we would get for it. If this was a way of getting 5 or more years of progress under our current volunteer-based method done in one year, then it should at least be looked at seriously.

2. Things done at the club level, or as a joint venture by neighboring clubs:

-- 2A. Smaller mapping projects by local talent. And here the question was raised as to what we do to develop local mapping talent, and the answer seems to be nothing. So what could be done to move this along? Regional based mapping seminars (i.e. a weekend of instruction). I went to such a thing way back when, and it sure helped a lot. I think something like this may happen at the occasional convention, but why not have one here in New England (and others elsewhere).

-- 2B. Local marketing/publicity. While there is a lot of anecdotal evidence that various things don't work (and people seem quite happy to point them out), or at best they have a miniscule return on investment, and so it's easy to feel like it's not worth trying anything. But the fact is that new people do keep showing up, and they do find out about orienteering somehow, and some of them keep coming back.

At the very least, it seems that there is basic stuff using both traditional media and social media that should be done, and my guess is that there is a lot more that could be done than is being done. And if that took paying someone a stipend to get it done -- because this is something that done not fit in with the talents of what seems to be the demographic that orienteers -- then clubs ought to just do it. And not always be so damn frugal.

-- 2C. Getting juniors interested. Again,lots of tales of poor return on investment. But there are some templets of successful programs -- Hammer's program, the Washington state school league, the JROTC programs. If nothing else, can't these be spread. And if spending some money to get things started would make things more likely to happen, then clubs should try it. And not always be so damn frugal.

-- 2D. Just a decision by clubs that have available money to do something with it.

-- 2E. And if you need too, by all means up the fees a little, at least for the over-40 crowd.

Not sure what I've left out....
Dec 2, 2011 7:15 PM # 
Canadian:
PG > you touched on this subject briefly in your point 2A:

One of these reasons the Ottawa Club is so successful these days is because every year or two we have a B-meet course setting clinic. We also have a mapping clinic every year or two. We usually get a couple to a half dozen people at each of these and helps bring in volunteers and makes them really feel like they're a part of the club. Most of the new people do in town maps and map updating and it's really made a difference to the amount and quality of maps we have around town!
Dec 2, 2011 8:37 PM # 
eddie:
You left out remapping of BHE :)

More to the point, specifics. Ok, so you have here a list of things that you generally want to do. This is akin to the OUSA Strategic Plan. The specific details - the "to do" list - is left for "fleshing out later." Except the later never seems to happen and we are stuck with very broad, general ideas and no specific tasks with specific deliverables for estimated costs at estimated times that people can sign up to take on. Money gets spent on things, work gets done by someone maybe, was any progress made? Hard to say.

I'll pick on 2C. Getting juniors interested. A great and noble cause. So you want to spend some of the cash you have on getting juniors interested. What specifically do you want to buy to further that cause? You can't just say "here's a nickel kid, see if you can get some juniors interested in orienteering." Well, you could, but it might not lead to much action. There are lots of specific ideas in this thread about getting juniors interested.

All I'm suggesting is that you put very specific items in your list under the broad headings. So you can go to the club and say we have this wish list of things we want to do and spend X dollars on, does anyone in the club want to take any of these on (even if that means you are in charge of hiring someone else to do it)?

My boss tells me this every year when I have to make up the formal list of Goals and Objectives. I'd like to just say "solve problems," because that's basically what I get paid to do, but the boss wants me to write down exactly which problems I intend to solve this year. That's harder to do of course, since you never know what might come up, but being specific will force work to happen rather than just some milling about hitting things with a hammer now and then.
Dec 2, 2011 9:47 PM # 
sammy:
I tend to agree with eddie on this one.

There never seems to be a shortage of ideas on AP but there always appears to be a lack of people to carry them out. It’s been my experience that unless you put a name next to an idea, it will rarely get done. Plus, in a volunteer organization, it is very hard to “force” people to do things they are not interested in- they’ll just tell you to do it yourself or politely tell you to p*ss off, I know I would.

My suggestions would be more modest and items that do not require a lot of volunteer time such as reducing or eliminating meet fees for a year to see if that spurs membership/starts. Perhaps awarding free memberships for good volunteering , etc.

And I think any club money should be spent on local rather than national programs.

Also, one of the risks here is assuming that the comments of 30 people on AP somehow represent the views of 400 NEOC members and/or 2000 USOF members and then trying to extrapolate. Not that that they are not worthy ideas but they may be totally inappropriate at the local level. Local club officers seem to be the ones best suited to lead these discussions for their members.
Dec 2, 2011 10:52 PM # 
danf:
My approach would be:

1) Approach the club BoD to see if they would be willing to fund various initiatives and to roughly what extent. For example, NEOC may agree to tentatively budget up to $5000 to fund local promotion efforts. If they are not willing to fund any potential efforts, either it ends there or you work to replace the BoD.

2) The club advertises the availability of money for various global strategic initiatives. Approach the movers and shakers who have a vision of what they want to accomplish and get them to submit mini-grant proposals with specifics of what they hope and expect to accomplish and how much it will cost. Maybe start with modest initiatives and a single page description. (Barb has written much of one in this thread already.)

3) Board funds one or more of these initiatives and provides support and publicity to the extent they can (via website, newsletter, etc) to help build teams around the movers and shakers.

4) Movers and shakers get to work. If they succeed in their proposed accomplishments, continue or expand funding. If they don't, stop funding them.
Dec 2, 2011 10:59 PM # 
danf:
I would also like to note that PG's 1B, at least as I described it above, is not currently a national initiative, although it could benefit from national or external funding. It is a local one taking place at QOC. The software is however available to other clubs or individuals to use freely. If anyone is interested in helping with the Drupal project, feel free to email me.
Dec 3, 2011 1:11 AM # 
gruver:
Based on my neck of the woods I would have to be pessimistic about the ability of club and national structures to get any of these things done. When I look at the developments that I think have been significant - orienteering in schools, introduction of rogaining and MTBO, making urban orienteering respectable including sprints, raising mapping standards, electronic punching, the internet - they haven't happened through project proposals, resource allocation, implementation and review. They have happened when a far-sighted individual or small group started small and persisted with something over many years.

Sometimes this effort sticks, sometimes it doesn't outlast the energy of the pioneer(s). I have chosen examples with some success around here. But there have been numerous others that haven't worked - perhaps no less useful but maybe the amount of energy or the circumstances of the key person wasn't enough. I'm talking about enough to overcome caution, inertia, comfort zone, and simply to keep plugging away for extended periods. I'm talking about far above and beyond a club member's duty to do their share.

I don't see hiring as the panacea either. After some good experiences with contractors who worked beyond the job description, there have been cases where performance has NOT been up to expectation. And our organisations have proved to be inept at dealing with this.

The holy grail is indeed elusive - the search may depend on individual crusaders.
Dec 3, 2011 1:34 AM # 
Tundra/Desert:
enough to overcome caution, inertia, comfort zone

Don't forget ridicule.
Dec 3, 2011 4:02 PM # 
Hammer:
gruver wrote: "don't see hiring as the panacea either. After some good experiences with contractors who worked beyond the job description, there have been cases where performance has NOT been up to expectation"

How about incentives based contracts or some sort of Public-Private Partnership?
Or non-for-profit club with for profit company partnership?

GHO has only had reasonably good success with this model. Provide a base contract of a certain amount and if a program the individual is responsible for delivering grows then that individual takes more of the revenue.

So, I'm a fan of CBC's Dragon's Den. Entrepreneurs and businesses pitch ideas to some rich dudes in return for an investment in the company. Perhaps we need to have "The Troll's Cave". Businesses or individuals present program proposals to PG for NEOC cash in return for NEOC taking a percentage of the revenues from the program. Of course the program must be orienteering related (i.e, you can't invest in the stock market).
Dec 3, 2011 10:04 PM # 
gruver:
Maybe GHO is ept. Or maybe contractors have all been good. Eventually you get one who doesn't measure up. I've seen some arrangements with no review and the bodies without the skills to terminate.
Dec 6, 2011 4:55 PM # 
PG:
This appeared on the NEOC website over the weekend. For 2012 club members will run free at regular club events.

I asked Ian Smith, a member of the NEOC's Board, what the thinking was, and he responded....

"The action was decided at the November 3 Board meeting.  Peter Frykman, who as caretaker of the point series, keeps statistics on attendance at meets by the membership, proposed the idea of shifting our model from a reduced entry rate to free entry.  A number of clubs use this model - many in Europe, Backwoods Orienteering Klub in North Carolina - in which a comparatively large membership fee is levied in exchange for free entry to all local events.  In our discussion, it was concluded that this would encourage members to come more often and simplify the registration process.  It is hoped that this will make the club feel more tightly knit, and give a clearer reason for becoming a member. 

One major concern was that we would lose money through this, but it was projected that this would be approximately revenue neutral.  We can always increase the cost of membership in subsequent years if the program proves to have value, but the NEOC leadership wants to keep the membership prices low to entice more people to join the club. 

At present, this program is a one-year endeavor to celebrate the 40th anniversary.  If the program is successful - i.e. increases starts, builds camaraderie (hard to measure), and is revenue neutral relative to a reduced entry fee system - we can then continue it.  Reciprocating to other clubs was discussed; under this model, I think it's clear that only NEOC members would receive the reduced entry rate.  The non-member fee was left where it is - at $10 per person, and the cost of annual membership was $20 for individuals and $30 for families.  Joining is advantageous; you only have to come to three meets to save money. 

One additional complication is that members will be issued membership cards.  We're hoping this isn't too logistically complicated, and we are looking into getting little keychain cards, like frequent shopper cards at grocery stores, with membership numbers.

I would like to hear any thoughts you have on this change!  Thanks for taking an interest."

And then when I asked if it was OK if I posted his response here, he replied....

"Yeah, definitely.  It's somewhat independent of the revenue considerations - though it hopefully will increase starts and club activity, we are not expecting it to change our revenue stream.  It is very important to me that the club continue to accrue revenue through events; our fees are reasonable, and we should spend the money rather than decrease our income."

It will be interesting to see how this plays out.

And, if it is revenue neutral, or revenue positive, or even only modestly revenue negative, then the initial question posed in this thread is still relevant.
Dec 6, 2011 5:38 PM # 
j-man:
I have long been a fan of that model (the health club or country club scheme) and have endorsed it for my club.
Dec 6, 2011 6:06 PM # 
Tundra/Desert:
this will make the club feel more tightly knit

I don't think you are considering the other end of the bargain. Indeed you'll reorient the system towards more of a closely-knit club, and to me, that's the exact opposite of sustainability. You'll be more closed to the public, and because of that by the time whatever additional resources you extract from your members with this system are exhausted, you'll have nothing fresh to feed off of.

And you may indeed increase starts, build up camaraderie, and get those people who volunteer once a year to volunteer three times. These aren't the correct metrics to judge your success by. The correct metrics are exposure in the media and the number of first-timers. No recent venture I know of that has been successful according to these metrics has embraced the club model. They all put on events for the public, not for the members.
Dec 6, 2011 6:07 PM # 
carlch:
I thought someone above (Barb?) suggested free entry for kids. Is that a consideration?
Dec 6, 2011 8:49 PM # 
TheInvisibleLog:
I think the usefulness of the Country Club model depends upon the cost structure of the club. Is there depreciation for both SI gear and a map maintenance program?
Dec 6, 2011 9:10 PM # 
GuyO:
I think it's clear that only NEOC members would receive the reduced entry rate.

Are NEOC, WCOC and HVO the only US O-clubs still stuck on this unfriendly policy? (Yes, I'm HVO and have tried unsuccessfully to get it changed; now, though, I have the bully pulpit...)

Granted, though, if the member rate is $0, it could be asking a bit much that it apply to members of any O-club, or IOF federation. But something less than the non-member rate could still apply.
Dec 6, 2011 9:12 PM # 
j-man:
I think T/D makes some good points. Still, I think you can focus on outreach and serve your members. I think there can be a balance, but some organizations might skew one way or the other.
Dec 6, 2011 9:33 PM # 
Rosstopher:
I think seeing a closely-knit club would be attractive to me as a potential member. I think it would be like watching someone eat a delicious chocolate chip cookie right in front of me. It makes me want a cookie too.

Also kudos to NEOC for trying something new (at least for them). A one year, 40th anniversary present that makes me quite proud to be a member of the club.
Dec 6, 2011 9:38 PM # 
Tundra/Desert:
I think if ultras were held by closely knit clubs, I would have never tried one.
Dec 6, 2011 9:38 PM # 
iansmith:
Tundra/Desert: The membership system change only will affect NEOC members. Non-member rates are unchanged, and I think there is only a stronger incentive to join the club now. This change will have negligible impact on outreach, media exposure, and attracting first time orienteers.

Certainly we need some other efforts to target the areas you mentioned, but this is orthogonal to those goals.

GuyO: While it would be attractive to extend some benefit to other club members, adding a third class complicates the registration process. Given that the non-member rate of $10 pays for as many courses as you want, I don't think it's unreasonable. I would certainly entertain debate on the matter, and the Board can modify the rates.
Dec 6, 2011 9:57 PM # 
Rosstopher:
Is closely-knit necessarily the same as more closed off to the public? Are there ways that you can see, T/D, to avoid at least the outward appearance of being elitist or closed off, without having to sacrifice a good atmosphere for the people that come every week to the events?
Dec 6, 2011 10:03 PM # 
Tundra/Desert:
If you advertise and promote to the public, events are unlikely to appear elitist or closed off. The converse is also true.
Dec 6, 2011 10:12 PM # 
GuyO:
Given that the non-member rate of $10 pays for as many courses as you want,...

Now that is an interesting pricing policy...

A NEOC member told me about NEOC's pay-one-fee for "all you can run" policy at one of the A-events up there. However, unless one is very fast, this would seem to mostly benefit the WYO participants -- which is NOT a bad thing. OUSA still charges $1 for each of those free starts, though.
Dec 6, 2011 10:16 PM # 
danf:
Just to play devil's advocate, can I ask how it follows that giving free entries to people who run at more than two meets will make the club more closely knit? Does a good atmosphere require free entry? At least 159 people in DVOA have run 4 or more events this year. Over a third of DVOA's calculated starts are from people running their fourth or more event of the year. Would there really be that many more who are balking at the $6 per event? Would dropping the entry fee incentivize them to volunteer more in the absence of other changes? This will be an interesting experiment. Good luck to NEOC.
Dec 6, 2011 10:33 PM # 
bshields:
I think the idea is just that you feel more like part of a club; you show your card to get in the door. The events are still ridiculously cheap, and I believe NEOC still has a first-time-free program, so it's not like there's a real barrier to entry, monetary, psychological, or otherwise.
Dec 6, 2011 10:35 PM # 
bshields:
And anyways, kudos to them for giving it a try. I'm curious to see how well it works.
Dec 6, 2011 10:37 PM # 
danf:
Me too. More clubs need to try new things.
Dec 6, 2011 10:54 PM # 
Tundra/Desert:
you show your card to get in the door

My point is that's yet another obstacle, and however small it is, we already are in such a niche, high-threshold-to-entry, misunderstood, underpromoted activity that the removal of any obstacle is a good thing. (Note that entry fees by themselves aren't an obstacle; $10 or free won't make much difference around here, and shouldn't in the Boston area, either).
Dec 6, 2011 11:02 PM # 
gruver:
We do the opposite. Make the subs as cheap as we can, and charge a realistic entry fee. There are many different pricing philosophies aren't there.
Dec 7, 2011 12:17 AM # 
bshields:
Vlad, I'm curious to know what personal experience you have that informs your opinion on this policy. Have you tried such a system and found it to fail miserably? What were your specific goals? What kind of organization were you attempting to grow?

I suspect the specific implementation, in terms of cheerfulness and enthusiasm towards newcomers, will be the determining factor in the success of any policy for growing numbers, more than the specific pricing structure for that policy. Fortunately, NEOC are cheerful and enthusiastic.

To be completely honest, I don't really see how free entry generates close-knit-ness, but I can see how NEOC would want to move people from being participants to being organizers. Bringing people into the social structure of a club is one way of accomplishing that. If you don't value having more organizers, then by all means, have fun organizing by yourself.
Dec 7, 2011 12:53 AM # 
ndobbs:
Two ideas for NEOC:

1) for anyone with an SI card, use the SI card as ID (actually, with the aim of saving labour, forcing individual members to have (discounted) SI cards could be good).

2) keep free entries going beyond the year for your volunteers.
Dec 7, 2011 1:00 AM # 
iansmith:
The effect on club camaraderie was not a major factor in the decision. The main advantages are incentive to attend more meets, simplifying registration, and increasing the value of membership. It is my impression that members will associate more strongly to the club with a more valuable membership. It has always been financially advantageous to be a NEOC member, but now with the membership, you just show up at a meet, sign a form, and you're entered without the hassle of a transaction. This might make NEOC marginally more exclusive - since the barrier to membership goes from $10/year to $20/year, but since the benefits are commensurate, I don't think this will substantively impact our relationship to the public, but it is unexplored for us. BOK, among others, has made this model work, and they have an even more exclusive notion of membership than we do.

Thanks for the feedback! It will be interesting to see the consequences.
Dec 7, 2011 1:22 AM # 
Tundra/Desert:
Have you tried such a system and found it to fail miserably?

What is it exactly in your system that would prompt the club to seek out new members? I've been around BAOC for over 10 years. Every several weeks there's an admonishment to members (already captured) to volunteer for this or that event, but rarely if ever is there targeted promotion to reach out to new folks. Get Lost!! measures success by rented fingersticks. At our latest rogaine, about 120 were rented for about 160 participants. I call that success. I would like to see a single event by the club with that proportion of non-regular orienteers.

Trail runs out here don't club around. They never have a shortage of volunteers, thanks to free entries—but without the hindrance of membership. They also have a party in January, despite having no membership. My point is that a successful social network does not require a club structure.

If you don't value having more organizers

What happens when an organization is overly clubby is that it gets subjected to decision-making by the majority, for the majority. The majority has jobs, families, and rarely a vision. The club structure has been around for 40+ years, and there are ample examples that it doesn't work in North America. There is little to incent the structure in the near term to acquire new members, and lots to prompt it to admonish existing members to contribute more. What if/when they don't want to, or they can't?

I think my biggest problem with the proposed model is that club members get discounts/free entries just for being members, regardless of the labor contributed. This will just generate more pressure on those who can't, or don't want to, contribute, and make their experience far less pleasurable; you may well lose them, and they could be at least contributing cash (which most of them would be far more comfortable to do instead of contributing their presumably more valuable time). The model is also unlikely to drive external promotion. If you replace this model with free entries in exchange for actually putting on events, I'd be all for it.
Dec 7, 2011 1:35 AM # 
j-man:
T/D--you are absolutely right, but also a touch impractical.

You have to get there from here, and that may involve enabling what you got to work better so that it may serve as a tool to achieve greater things in the future.

I do like your second point. My designs, should I have an opportunity to pursue them, are to pursue new avenues of promotion and member/volunteer engagement in similar measure.
Dec 7, 2011 1:57 AM # 
coach:
The one NEOC downside of this policy>
"If you replace this model with free entries in exchange for actually putting on events, I'd be all for it."
The club gave "Get into meet free cards" to Meet directors as a thank you.
So in Vlad's opinion, we are going the wrong way.
Dec 7, 2011 2:00 AM # 
danf:
A lot of resonance with T/D's last two paragraphs.
Dec 7, 2011 2:24 AM # 
jjtong:
PG - Thanks for starting this thread - lots of interesting stuff. Here's my input as a former (one-term) but not current NEOC Board member and current "Publicity" VP (which consists mainly of answering e-mails)

Re-mapping - we recognize the need, but have been stuck at not being able to find and hire mappers - Perhaps Ian can make some headway here.

Publicity - Again, we recognize the value and need. When I joined the Board that was my focus, and I made some small steps in increasing promotion, but my family circumstances have changed, and I had to cut way back on my time. I thought about proposing to hire someone, (a la OUSA) but there are drawbacks:

As becks commented - you have to be prepared for success - can we really handle a big influx of participants with the staff and maps we have? Do we really want to be bigger? (another thread entirely)

One nice thing about O (for me) is that we are all volunteers, which cuts everyone some slack and makes it more like fun than work. Paying someone sends us down a slippery slope. Likely it will be a fellow orienteerer (although we could find an outsider, like OSUA). Do you hold them to a different standard than volunteers? How do you supervise and evaluate them? That may take as much time as the work itself. How do you separate their paid and unpaid activities?
Nit picking perhaps, but all activation-energy barriers. (I see mapping as a little different as it is a well defined service - I'm happy to pay professional mappers - maybe it's not a logical distinction)

Finally $50K is an accumulation of surpluses over many years. If you want to hire someone, you need to look at the steady-state yearly surplus - it is much less that $50K. only a few $K I believe.

My vote is to improve the maps, and spend on publicity by buying media space or possibly paying a marketing student as an intern (or an unemployed marketing pro to fill a blank period in their resume) Not exactly the same as hiring someone, but perhaps still within your definition.
Dec 7, 2011 2:31 AM # 
gruver:
We looked around for a volunteer recognition system. There was a club that had a points system for various sorts of volunteering, when you got a certain number of points you got a ticket for some free entries. It complicates the accounts and it looked as though it would be a (volunteer?) job in itself to run the system. We decided just to compile a list of the significant volunteers once a year (they are all named in the results on the web) and to offer them half price membership next year. Its a oncer, they take it up or they don't and that is the end of the matter. No matter what, a real "thank you" has been made.

Just as there are many different pricing philosophies, you can reward work with free entries, free subs, or real money. No right answer.
Dec 7, 2011 2:38 AM # 
jjcote:
I haven't been a NEOC member for quite a few years now (I was back in the 80s and ealy 90s, but for various reasons, I let my membership lapse). I saw this 40th anniversary policy, and it looked very tempting. However, I've heard one or two people say recently that it's a goal of theirs to get me to join NEOC again, and one can't just go around letting people fulfill goals like that. But then I saw that T/D thinks it's a bad idea, and that made up my mind: I'm joining.

(I already previously agreed to set courses for a NEOC meet in 2012, independent of this.)
Dec 7, 2011 4:07 AM # 
j-man:
Just to clarify, the main reason I like the all you can eat/country club/gym model of pricing is because it is one of the simplest, most effective means of dramatically reducing cash handling at events. I have studied the cost of cash professionally, and I see the cost in the orienteering club context anecdotally. Sure, there are newfangled payment methods on the horizon, and pre-registration may be a boon, but certainly not yet. For better or worse, most of our attendees are members. If you could figure out a way to process XXX% more members per hour through registration, that is better for non-members and it is better for volunteers. And this is a solution that is exceedingly simple. It works for the savviest clubs and the most down-home.

Not everyone needs to adopt an efficiency-enhancing technology to produce gains for adopters and skeptics: Operations researchers and engineers in other fields have done relevant work in these areas. For example. (This example is an electronic solution--relax the assumptions and just postulate cash/no cash.) The principles are hardly novel.

It may or may not engender greater affinity for the club (because of feelings of being in the "in crowd"), esprit de corps, etc., but that wouldn't be my prime motivation.
Dec 7, 2011 4:08 AM # 
sherpes:
just when this thread was dormant, it got a new life with all this new discussion about how NEOC will not charge in 2012 for its members. All very interesting discussion. In my view, if I were living in the Boston area, in the busy life of crowed East Coast, I might not show up at more than 3 or 4 meets a year anyway, so this model seems to fit well for those with that profile, for both participants and organizers. All for simplification overall.

Sharing some other models at other clubs, this year NEOOC had a couple of "member's only" events, in which participation was allowed in only to members (one could sign up for club membership directly at the meet, if he/she wanted). One such event was free to members, and in this case, it broke even for a family to sign up for club membership as a family and then run three individual courses. I'll let the NEOOC folks chip in if this model was successful for them to retain/increase membership.

WPOC had a promotional event to attract newbies to the sport on Orienteering Day, by offering free participation to folks that never did an orienteering event before. Coupons for a "free entry" to future meets were also handed out to these newbies to come back in the future. The club hopes to see an effect with increase meet attendance in 2012.

Since Vlad shared his experiences with Get Lost rogaine, might as well share mine: two small rogaine events were organized, with 110 and 140 participants in them respectively, and of which about 80% were folks that never participated to club regular orienteering meets. These were mostly the hiker crowd, some adventure racers, others connected through a social network. It was noted later that very very few (less than ten) of these folks that participated at the rogaine, also participated later at a regular meet. Don't have an answer for the why.
Dec 7, 2011 4:36 AM # 
gruver:
Complete the experiment. Did any of these folks participate later at a small rogaine?
Dec 7, 2011 1:21 PM # 
jjcote:
I've never given this any thought, Clem, but could you summarize the downsides of cash? It never occurred to me that there would really be any from the organizer's perspective (though I don't personally use it much myself any more).
Dec 7, 2011 2:08 PM # 
sherpes:
Did any of these folks participate later at a small rogaine?

Yes. Many of the participants in the first rogaine were returnees for the second one a year later, and brought friends ("oh, you should try this.."). For those that remember the MCI phone company "Friends & Family" marketing, we are thinking of pulling more people for the next one by offering discount to those that bring a friend or family that has not participated before. Sort of a discount when referring someone new into the sport.

Food is becoming a "pull". The facility has a commercial kitchen, and we served batches of freshly cooked hot foods. Many people had commented on how good it was to eat a real meal after six hours in the woods.

When we asked around what people wanted, one guy yelled back "no shirt". For a moment I thought he wanted to be allowed to race without wearing a shirt. What he meant to say is that his closet is full of race shirts, that he doesn't feel motivated to get another one.

The biggest pull, however, is still some form of social attachment. When one team of adventure racers signed up and their friends in the AR community heard about it, it triggered an avalanche of registrations. 30 people unknown to us before just wanted to be there because their friends were there. Same with a small group of retired school teachers: one group came, and the following year, their friends came as well. This year REI made the event an official event on their event calendar, in part because they were also a sponsor. It was nice to see it chalkboarded up at the store entrance in big bold letters.
Dec 7, 2011 2:30 PM # 
Tundra/Desert:
newfangled payment methods on the horizon, and pre-registration may be a boon, but certainly not yet

That's because most folks in them O clubs are old. They don't dig Square. And most are retired, so it's cheaper for them to spend an hour on a bank trip and on counting cash than to pay 2.75% on say $1.5k event revenue.
Dec 7, 2011 2:32 PM # 
Tundra/Desert:
Many of the participants in the first rogaine were returnees for the second one a year later, and brought friends

You are lucky they didn't forget; you'd get more back if you had more than one event per year.
Dec 7, 2011 3:07 PM # 
Cristina:
we are thinking of pulling more people for the next one by offering discount to those that bring a friend or family that has not participated before. Sort of a discount when referring someone new into the sport.

The Tucson club has had a friend-for-free program for about a year now. I don't know the numbers (I could find out if anyone was interested) but at least a handful each meet, I think.

The sponsor must be a club member and the friend must not have ever been to an organized O meet before. The idea is that it encourages members to introduce new people to the sport, and it also encourages a social aspect - you don't get in free on your own, you get in free with a friend. I think it's doing some good with very little cost to the club.
Dec 8, 2011 12:30 AM # 
gruver:
Did any of these folks participate later at a small rogaine? Yes.

Then why worry if they don't come to traditional orienteering. If you're after more people, run more small rogaines.
Dec 8, 2011 2:22 AM # 
sherpes:
why worry if they don't come to traditional orienteering

True. and yes, we are indeed thinking of using another park for a 3-hr event. Is just that any small club needs that critical mass to keep events up. It is like John Conway's game of Life: "Any live cell with fewer than two live neighbours dies, as if caused by under-population". It would be nice to feed the club with some young blood, new ideas, new crowds, new venues for the next 5-10 years.

btw, we also observed the inverse lack of traffic flow: very few regular orienteerers participated at the small rogaine. These were mostly families that would do a W-Y-O course together as a family for $5 for all, and were not prepared to shell out $15-$25/person. So i guess we are talking about two different audiences. We also thank CBS and its reality show "Amazing Race" for making it easier to convey the approximate concept. A few twists, borrowed from a nearby adventure race: 4 controls were not marked on the map, but were identified on mini-maps posted at other nearby controls. We called these "mystery controls".
Dec 8, 2011 3:23 AM # 
Tundra/Desert:
i guess we are talking about two different audiences

Figure out which one is willing to pay more for your efforts, and ditch the other one.
Dec 8, 2011 4:35 AM # 
jjcote:
Is it about maximizing revenue, or about putting on the sort of events you're interested in? I mean, you can probably find a lot of people interested in eating funnel cakes, but I don't think it would be a satisfactory plan to stop putting on orienteering meets in order that you can you can focus on making funnel cakes.
Dec 8, 2011 9:32 AM # 
gruver:
I wouldn't go as far as T/D. But what the experiment suggests is

1. Not many people like traditional orienteering. I do, but I recognise that its expensive in time to put on. I do my bit to make it happen.

2. Team score events using less detailed maps seem to be more popular. Whats more it takes less work to make an hour of participation. I use some extra time I have to make these happen too.

3. We could raise our enjoyment levels by stopping worrying, just change the mix a bit.

4. There are also some intriguing possibilities around blurring the boundaries between these forms of orienteering.
Dec 8, 2011 1:56 PM # 
ndobbs:
Re gruver's 1:
I've had 15 newbies try orienteering here locally, and *all* liked it. They haven't all come back for more (yet), but some have. I don't believe the sport is the problem.
Dec 8, 2011 3:05 PM # 
Cristina:
Agreed. Maybe there aren't 100 million Americans who would enjoy orienteering, but almost every person I've taken to a meet has enjoyed it. The problem is the presentation, accessibility, steep learning curve, marketing, lack of social opportunities... you know, everything except the actual sport. ;-)
Dec 8, 2011 3:23 PM # 
ndobbs:
Exactly!
Dec 8, 2011 3:36 PM # 
coach:
Yes, I agree also. Present it well in mass media and people will show, but are we ready for them?
Interesting:
>Team score events using less detailed maps seem to be more popular.<
in light of the ideas to spend money on updating and making more detailed maps.
Dec 8, 2011 3:47 PM # 
danf:
100% agree with Cristina.

Maybe our intuitive expectations as to recruitment and retention rates are not realistic; a few repeat customers might be as good as we or any similarly positioned activity can expect. It's a hard target market to identify. Perhaps we shouldn't be discouraged by small numbers from marketing efforts as they could still indicate quite substantial success, but just take it in stride and learn from it to improve future efforts.

but do we want them to?

If we want to keep our 501c3 status, we'd better.
Dec 8, 2011 9:32 PM # 
blegg:
Sherpes wrote: Many of the participants in the first rogaine were returnees for the second one a year later, and brought friends
T/D responded: You are lucky they didn't forget; you'd get more back if you had more than one event per year.

Actually: this brings to mind one way to wisely invest money. Mail lists. That participant list is the most valuable asset a club has, don't throw it away. If your club puts on a big annual event (rogaine?), collect the names, and next year, spend a few dollars and mail a registration form to each participant. Don't let them forget!
Dec 8, 2011 9:47 PM # 
pi:
Thanks for that post Cristina. There is always so much talk about how to change our sport, new formats etc, in order to be more attractive. My epxperience is that our sport is just fine! Everytime I work with newcomers, both kids and adults, the rate of enjoyment I see is very very high!

Orienteering has a long tradition and already offers a wide variety of options, from rogaines, score-Os, ultra long, long, middle, sprint, relays. Let's stop worrying so much about the sport itself and put a real focus on "presentation, accessibility, marketing, social opportunities"!
Dec 8, 2011 10:19 PM # 
danf:
Or maybe...

"opportunities for marketing, accessibility, presentation, and socials"
= o-maps.
Dec 8, 2011 10:26 PM # 
GuyO:
Agree with ndobbs, Cristina, & pi
Dec 8, 2011 10:40 PM # 
O-ing:
I think Tundra/Desert is right. From an article I wrote a few years ago:
One way to look at the problem is to analyse what not to do – think of ways of putting people off (and then do the opposite).
OK – so firstly - don’t advertise events, instead restrict circulation to current members. That is a sure way to reduce numbers by attrition.
2 Or schedule events for one date, and then later cancel or postpone it - new or returning orienteers are very unlikely to hear about any changes.
3 Give very poor directions to the assembly area. Most people who go orienteering regularly know where local events start from, but new people?
4 Don’t offer entry-on-the-day - most new orienteers will be entry on the day to start with.
5 When you do advertise events use the phrase “Limited entry on the day may be available”. Nobody will come if they can sense they are not wanted.
6 If they do come then have no information or help for new people at the assembly area.
7 Make ‘em wait: if you have entry-on-the-days, then hold them until the privileged few (pre-entries) have started.
8 Charge them punitive fees.
9 Patronise them by underestimating their abilities and offering only “Novice” courses.
10 Make the walk to the start either much shorter or longer than stated, or signpost it badly, and then refuse to change start times.
11 If they are running to the finish and don’t look like proper orienteers then shout at them to go away.
12 In fact have two finishes and hide the one for newcomers. 13 Don’t allow them to have their result count against pre-entries, in fact don’t put up their results at all and certainly don’t publish them later.
14 If you are holding a really good event, say at holiday time, when they may have a window of opportunity to try O, then bar them completely.
Apr 19, 2017 1:45 AM # 
barb:
Let's do that thing now where OUSA brings in mappers on H1B visas. First, two questions: (1) are US-based mappers fully booked with projects, so that there is a need for foreign mappers?, and (2) are there clubs who would pay for the maps?
Apr 19, 2017 3:28 AM # 
JimBaker:
Well, I'm an American mapper, conceivably available for a small project. (I could refer people to maps that I've field checked.) I'd have to check whether RMOC wants to go ahead with a project that they mooted, though, as that would get first priority.
Apr 19, 2017 11:36 PM # 
j-man:
Barb--how I wish that would happen. It's something I would have advocated for. I actually did advocate for it, except not strenuously.
Apr 20, 2017 10:31 AM # 
barb:
Yes, I noticed that you advocated for it from something you wrote in this post. I see no reason why we can't do this. We just need to do it. Right?

We need to have reasonable amount of work ready for the mapper, and we need to be sure that there are not US mappers who can do that work, and then we need a few people willing to see this through, and then I think we are good to go, right?
There is a board meeting on Monday, and perhaps those who think this is a good (or bad) idea could formally let your board representative know before then.
Apr 20, 2017 10:57 AM # 
Cristina:
I think we also need $ for an immigration lawyer. I've also advocated for this in the past but there didn't seem to be much interest once someone reported how much it might cost (I don't remember the number!). I think it's a great idea if there's demand for it but we should know if that's what clubs want before spending money on immigration lawyers. And determine whether or not it fits into OUSA plans for growth -- if clubs need more (very accessible to people) local maps and this is a way to get them, great.
Apr 20, 2017 11:22 AM # 
feet:
Given the facts that
* under the existing format, the H-1B program is drastically oversubscribed every year (it hits the cap within days, maybe hours, of the opening date for application receipt): https://www.nytimes.com/2017/04/03/us/tech-visa-ap...;
* the Trump administration and Congress are in the process of proposing various overhauls to the program, but it is unclear how this will shake out yet;
* and the fact that applications each year open on April 1, so no application could be submitted before April 1, 2018, as of now;
this doesn't seem like a good use of scarce OUSA BOD time and effort as of right now.

Also, is the limiting factor for orienteering in the US really limited access to maps? I thought that was the one thing many clubs had far too many of. Or is the idea that the maps will be made for some clear purpose (eg, schools maps for use in a well-targeted development program somewhere)?
Apr 20, 2017 12:36 PM # 
BorisGr:
I am with feet on this one. I don't think spending money and effort on H-1B visas is a good idea at this moment, as Congress is likely to overhaul (read: shrink) the program shortly.
Apr 20, 2017 1:03 PM # 
JimBaker:
Ok, what could we do to increase the number of American (or maybe NAFTA) mappers?

Regarding feet's question about the need for maps, some areas do have plentiful maps (though to keep the sport fresh, some new ones are useful from time to time). Others, not so many. How many maps near New Haven? Committed orienteers are willing to drive hours to orienteer. Beginners not so much. I see an obvious gradient in event attendance in Colorado, the further from Denver. In Denver, a hundred participants. An hour and a bit away in Nederland, 60-70. Two hours away north of Woodland Park, 40-45. 2.5 hours away near Lake George, 30-35. Lots of population areas could use some closer maps. (For instance, I'm mapping an area seventy minutes drive from Denver, and next is one within Colorado Springs, to help alleviate the shortage of closer maps.)
Apr 20, 2017 1:04 PM # 
JimBaker:
By the way, it's probably worth a separate "mappers for America" thread if there's more to say.
Apr 20, 2017 1:04 PM # 
ndobbs:
@feet, limited access to local maps, yes. How many maps are there within 40 mins of New Haven? or 30 minutes of White Plains? Non-zero, but long-term, one would hope to have one's local orienteering based in a 30-45 minutes radius of home, with the occasional bigger event further away.
Apr 20, 2017 2:21 PM # 
mikeminium:
There are definitely areas with no clubs or new small clubs that need maps. There's definitely a constant demand for new maps for schools and urban parks. And many older existing maps are reaching the point where updating just won't do - a complete remapping is needed.

I like the idea of pursuing H1B visas but agree that it may not be practical if their availability is being cut back even further. The first step toward even considering H1B is probably to create a database of North American mappers. This needs to include geographic availability, and some kind of quality rating. For example, there may be people willing to make maps, but their work quality might only be acceptable for schoolyard maps for school or local use. Others might be capable of top quality work but limited in geographical or seasonal availability.
Apr 20, 2017 3:35 PM # 
iriharding:
H1B seems like a big mess right now (but I'm sure an immigration lawyer (in high demand now) will take our $$$ to work on it with very limited results).

I think Mike's ideas are excellent. A database of North American mappers along with a OUSA template mapping contract and template scope of work document would really help ensure the quality and increase the quantity of new maps. There should be a template for schoolyards and another for full O maps since their needs are different. Mapping contract template could help with scope of work (Lidar contours ?) and also help with standard contract issues (like making sure an employer/employee relationship is NOT established, but rather a subcontractor one , and payment terms (fixed hours or time and material, paid when done?) ) .

A more structured and business like approach will help all the clubs to spend their significant $$$ and get the desired outcome of more good quality maps. OUSA Board should help with that national structure.
Apr 20, 2017 5:45 PM # 
JimBaker:
Is a database of mappers something that the map committee (or an ad hoc group of map gurus) would be interested in creating?

One problem with databases is maintenance. There used to be an excellent database of American maps, and of NEOC maps, but I suspect that both have fallen into disuse and disrepair. They were a great way to keep track of what maps existed...fifty NEOC color maps at one point. This may be one reason for "lack of maps" in some places...maps that actually exist, but people have forgotten about.

Again, a thread with "mappers" in the title is probably worthwhile, so that interested people actually see it. Starting it.
Apr 20, 2017 7:13 PM # 
feet:
@ndobbs: quite, but the mapping tail should not wag the program development dog. The Hamilton, ON crowd didn't start by making a thousand maps, they started by creating a program that got people excited to orienteer. Then they had funding for maps. If you map every forest within 30 minutes of my house, that still won't do any good if there is nobody to put events on in them.

Hence my final comment that it might be different if this is part of a development program and a clearly identified limiting factor for that program. But at that point, I'd think it would be the program itself (like GHO / ARK in Hamilton) that would be employing the mapper, not OUSA.
Apr 20, 2017 9:42 PM # 
JanetT:
There's already a database of mappers, on the OUSA site. Not all are located in the US.

Mark Dominie of central New York should probably be added, but he has plenty of work (word of mouth) and has not requested to be added.

Anyone else who maps in the US and is willing to be added to the list can contact me at the email address in my profile.
Apr 21, 2017 2:36 AM # 
j-man:
Who makes the maps in Hamilton? Are they local?
Apr 21, 2017 2:42 AM # 
j-man:
Assuming that OUSA database is current, which of those mappers would be qualified and available to make a map for a US national championship?
Apr 21, 2017 4:36 AM # 
JimBaker:
Qualified - ask for references/maps made
Available - contact them with the particulars

Currency of the list - I wonder how often mappers have to register with the list? Yearly? Once only?
Apr 21, 2017 7:11 AM # 
haywoodkb:
That list has references to "OCAD 5" and "Windows 95", so I'm guessing the list is at least 15 years old, although it may have some newer additions.
Apr 21, 2017 12:05 PM # 
Hammer:
@jman: Forest maps generally by various international mappers while sprint maps by our Adventure Running X manager, Meghan Rance.
Apr 21, 2017 12:28 PM # 
JanetT:
@haywoodkb ... The references to OCAD 5 and Windows 95 refer to a font, not a mapper. That information came from our O Vendors page and the link is not working for me.

The list of mappers was compiled when we redid the website in 2010. Unless someone on the OUSA board is checking the list it's only updated when people send me new information. JimBaker has asked me to add his info to the list, which I will do today. The list (like the O Vendors list) is provided for information only; no endorsements are made or implied.
Apr 21, 2017 6:24 PM # 
j-man:
Thanks Hammer. Why use international mappers for forest maps?

A broader question for everyone else... and I don't know the answer... who has made the maps for US Championships over the past few years? That may be another way to back into where to find qualified mappers...
Apr 22, 2017 2:04 AM # 
JimBaker:
To PG's original question on this thread, I think that my current club should start an ARK-like program, and also map some areas near its northern cities. My area's maps are a quarter century old in many cases, but mostly in reasonable shape. Minor updating would be nice in a few cases, major updating in one case, but generally there are quite adequate maps here. The interscholastic league seems successful, so maybe an ARK would too, and involve juniors even more deeply in the sport.

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