orienteering 33:00 
I had left to head home, stopped in Northampton for a cup of coffee, discovered an e-box in my pocket, and figured I better just take it back.
Did that. Saw Phil, thought about the fact that I think there were 126 controls to be picked up, and offered to get a few. He gave me a nice cluster close to the road, 11 controls, and it went quickly, no codes to check, no streamers to take down, and my brain was working.
Not much of a contribution, but a little is better than nothing.
My sense is the event went very well. I certainly liked having all the juniors there, added a vibe that was just plain fun. Phil did a huge amount of work with the courses, brilliant. And serious work from Ed, Steve, Alex, Becky, Greg and many others.
I was fortunate to get hooked up by Gord Hunter with the group from South Sumter High School in Florida, 12 kids and 5 adults. I was a little apprehensive about how it would play out, not having any idea of what their skill levels were, plus it has been some time since I did any coaching. There was a little more anxiety than I wished, a little less confidence.
We spent three hours at the model terrain on Friday, luckily starting mid-morning and getting done just as the rain was settling in. Seemed to go very well.
After we were done, and with the weather deteriorating, they headed back to their motel, where Gord spent a bunch of time with them going over old courses at Mt. Tom.
Realize that few of the kids had ever been outside of Florida and none had ever orienteered outside Florida. My expectations were that Saturday was not going to be a happy day. I certainly tried to tamp down expections, stress how hard it was going to be.
And so imagine my surprise when on Satuday all 12 finished, most with very respectable times.
Today was tougher, the rain and the cold (they're from Florida, plus quite a few wear glasses). I think 3 didn't finish. But I was really proud of the whole bunch. And I think they were quite amazed to have managed as well as they did in terrain that was so unlike anything they had ever seen.
There were 5 adults in the group (they drove up). I really enjoyed talking to them too, just a real nice bunch of people.
Gord thanked me afterwards. I said I was the one who was thankful, for a really wonderful experience.
Friday morning before I headed down to the model event I wrote up a few notes on things I hope to cover in our training session. I figured it might help them afterwards to remember what we were trying to do.
Here's what I wrote. It doesn't cover everything we talked about, but it gives an idea of things --
-- How far apart lines are shows how steep a slope is. How many lines there are show how big the slope is. The way the lines curve show the shape of the slope.
-- Closed “circles” show hills. Small hills can have as little as one contour line. Large hills can have many. The lines show the size, and also the shape.
-- Which way is up? Generally, streams flow down reentrants. Where contour lines cross a stream, the “U” in the contour line points uphill.
Using contours to navigate
-- You can use contours as handrails, just as you might use other handrails (the edge of an open area, a power line, a trail). Some examples are a long reentrant, the top of ridge, along the bottom of a slope, going straight up (or straight down) a slope.
-- Look for the big obvious features and navigate using them.
Understanding rock features
-- Generally, boulders must be at least a meter (3 feet) high. A large bolder at least 1.5-2 meters (5-6 feet) high.
-- Generally cliffs must be vertical or nearly vertical and at least 1-1.5 meters high.
-- There will always be boulders and cliffs that are not on the map because they are just a little too small. You have to accept this.
-- When you have to navigate to a rock feature, see how the rock feature sits in the terrain, ie. look at the bigger picture. So if it is near the top of a hill, navigate to the hill, and only then to the rock feature. Just because the control is on a rock feature doesn’t mean that you should ignore everything else on the map, especially the contours.
-- Orienteering at Mt. Tom is difficult. For everyone. Do your best. Try to learn things on Friday so you will do better on Saturday. And then learn things on Saturday so you do even better on Sunday.
-- Use you head. Don’t worry about how fast you are running. It’s OK to walk, it’s OK to stop. Think about navigating, about always knowing where you are and where you are going. Do that and you’ll make out just fine.