Trail (Pickup 7th grade course) 1:40:00  5.3 mi (18:52 / mi)
The meet started well. 90 kids, 45 in the morning, 45 in the afternoon. Some of these Waldorf kids are really good, with a fine attitude. Teams of four to six, mixed between schools. Four schools in attendance.
Best scores were 218, 218 and 206. 22 controls, each worth its number in points. 80 minute course, about 5.5 km, score o, and about 80 m climb. Nine teams in the morning, all done at noon. 8 teams in the afternoon, all done at 2 pm.
One morning team had a young boy on it who said he had seen a snake and been bitten by it on control number 1. I asked to see the bite - no skin broken. He said he thought it was a mole snake. A girl on his team had asked if there were snakes, and I had said no - I hadn't seen any. Within 5 minutes this team is shrieking and blowing whistles and this boy is saying he was bit, but he likes and knows snakes. I told him again to stay away from them. I also advised them to stay on the trails if they are afraid. Then off they went again. Sure enough, a few minutes later they're back, reporting three more snakes sighted and one handled. Soon afterwards, another three "snakes" sighted. My conclusion: active imaginations, and a need for attention, some bravado, and maybe a desire to scare the girls. It's disconcerting, since safety is so important, and I hate the false alarm mentality.
Big drama at the end. The first afternoon team came in - boys - missing one guy. Apparently, he was a good runner and had said he knew what he was doing, so he said he would run ahead on his own. Which he did. But he didn't come back.
I had emphasised safety when I addressed the kids. And the main safety point was to stick together. Each team had one whistle, one map, one compass, one clue sheet, so splitting up would really compromise safety. Even so, after the morning event, some of the kids had switched teams and split up, so I redoubled emphasis in the afternoon, and said again that they MUST stick together.
So, naturally, Connor didn't listen, went off on his own, and got lost. He definitely had the punch card clue sheet, and I don't know if he had the compass and map, or the whistle.
His teammates backtracked to try to find him, but couldn't. Others went off yelling for him, to no avail. Tried the bullhorn. Nothing.
So, at about 2:30 I set off to search for him. Others went to the parking lot in case he had gone there (one of his teammates said he thought he had followed the sewage truck). His teammates said he had left them near the end, which jived with the sewage truck since it was at the end. Despite all the info from the team, I was suspicious that they were witholding something - like they were embarrassed, maybe. My basic suspicion was that they had not seen him since somewhere near the beginning. However, I decided to run the course backwards on the assumption that I would find him near the end.
At the pond, a curious looking helicopter wandered overhead. Seemed to take a long look at me, and then moved on.
For some reason, all the jets in the bay area decided to fly overhead one after the other, so it was actually difficult to hear things - like any response to my calls. Frustrating.
Heard Janet calling near the end of my flat loop, so hustled over to meet her to find out if she had any news from the parking lot. Nope. Told her my plan was to continue going backwards through the course, which meant that the remaining part was the high loop. There's a turn on the high loop which, if Connor had missed it, would put him in a housing development. So I was going to head over there as well. But troubling thing was that all turns were well marked on both sides with orienteering bags, so why would he have missed a turn?
Well, we hustled up the trail. It started to drizzle a bit, but conditions were ok - about 70 degrees. Got near the steep part, heard a truck honk at us. It was the Briones Rangers come to find us. They told us he had been found. By the Helicopter!!!! They said they would have liked to talk to Connor and paddle the guy for disobeying the safety rules. Also said that Connor had a helicopter ride, so he's probably feeling cool. I doubt it. Embarrassed yes. Anyway, I hope the kid learns the lesson.
As for me, I had forgotten one of my basic safety items, which is a walkie talke radio. I had my first aid kit, my S&R plan, my cell phone and its walkie talkie, emergency kit and so on. But the cell doesn't work reliably down low in Briones, so a regular WT is better. Normally I bring them, but this time I missed. I always bring them - even to BAOC meets. This is the only time I missed - so of course, this is the only time I needed them. Murphy is such a prick!
Well, I didn't get to speak to anyone afterwards. Hopefully all is well. I suppose someone must have alerted the rangers at the parking lot - Friday is a normal work day for them. The rangers said the helicopter picked Connor up waaay up on top of the ridge. Which is exactly where Janet and I were headed. If I had chosen to search forwards instead of backwards, I guess I would have found him (assuming he was on top of the ridge). I wish his teammates had been more frank about when he had run off... if they had, I'd have searched forwards (clockwise) and high instead of backwards and low. In retrospect, I wonder if backwards is better than forwards for S&R??
For future safety reviews, emphasise that the controls are all fairly close to each other (obvious from the map, but still worth reiterating). So if you don't find one within say 10 minutes, just go BACK!! If you feel lost, stay at a control! If you can't find the last one, stay where you are so that you are within earshot. But most important of all, stay with your team.
How can we ensure that kids stay with their teams???